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The Berlin Wall, Fifty Years Ago

By jimstaro - Posted on 13 August 2011

While Condemning Wall in Public, U.S. Officials Saw "Long Term Advantage" if Potential Refugees Stayed in East Germany


Three Days Before Wall Went Up, CIA Expected East Germany Would Take "Harsher Measures" to Solve Refugee Crisis

Disturbed By Lack of Warning, JFK Asked Intelligence Advisers to Review CIA Performance

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 354

August 12, 2011 - Fifty years ago, when leaders of the former East Germany (German Democratic Republic) implemented their dramatic decision to seal off East Berlin from the western part of the city, senior Kennedy administration officials publicly condemned them. Nevertheless, those same officials, including Secretary of State Dean Rusk, secretly saw the Wall as potentially contributing to the stability of East Germany and thereby easing the festering crisis over West Berlin. Indeed, U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union Llewellyn Thompson had written that "both we and West Germans consider it to our long-range advantage that potential refugees remain [in] East Germany." This surprising viewpoint from Thompson and Rusk, among others, is one of a number of points of interest in declassified documents posted today by the National Security Archive.

The previously secret documents also reveal new information about one of the remaining unknowns from the period—how well (or poorly) U.S. intelligence agencies carried out their responsibility. In one record, President John F. Kennedy's frustration shows through over the fact that he did not receive adequate advance warning of the East German move.

Some of the documents posted today were released by the CIA through its CREST database at the National Archives, College Park. As a few of them are heavily excised, the National Security Archive has requested further declassification review. Other relevant documents--CIA daily reports to President Kennedy during the Wall crisis--remain classified because of agency insistence that sources and methods are at risk. The Archive has appealed these denials. read more with a wealth of document links>>>

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