On an international press conference, on June 15th 1961, Walter Ulbricht is answering the question of a correspondent of the ‘Frankfurter Rundschau’ by exclaiming: ‘No one has the intention to build a wall!’

Barbed Wires and Road Blocks

In the night from August 12th to 13th 1961, construction workers begin to seal Berlin’s Soviet sector with barbed wire and road blocks under the watchful eyes of the National People’s Army and the Volkspolizei. The street car and subway traffic between both parts of the town is being interrupted. Only 13 border checkpoints remain open for cars and pedestrians.

Conrad Schumann

On the very first day, the young soldier Conrad Schumann takes advantage of an opportunity to defect – this picture goes around the world.

Concrete Elements

On August 15, 1961, East German construction workers erect the very first concrete elements and hollow blocks under the watchful eyes of border guards. During the next three months a wall made of stones and concrete blocks is being erected, the first generation of the wall.

Windows and Entrances

Windows and entrances of the buildings in the Bernauer Straße near the border are being bricked up.

Leaping out of Windows

Residents Ida Siekmann (59), Olga Segler (80), and Bernd Lünser (22) loose their lives when leaping out their windows. On August 24th 1961, first gun shots are fired from the wall – 24-year old Günther Liftin gets killed in his attempt to escape.


Konrad Adenauer appeals to the public to show solidarity with East Germans by placing candles in the windows each Christmas.

HO Markets

As early as 1948, the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) opens the first trading organization markets, so-called "free stores". They were meant to counteract the black market.