1962 - 1964

On the occasion of the fifteenth anniversary of the Berlin Airlift, on June 26th 1963, John F. Kennedy was the first American president to visit Berlin. In his famous speech in front of the Schöneberger town hall he showed his solidarity with the people of West Berlin by claiming: "Ich bin ein Berliner!". In July 1963 the GDR (East Germany) started selling their political prisoners to the BRD (West Germany) for money. Every year East Germany released between 500 and 1500 prisoners into West Germany.

Transit Permit Agreement

On March 22nd 1962, the East German government issues travel permits for West German citizens wanting to enter East Germany. From December 17th 1963 on, the first transit permit agreement enables West Berliners to visit their East German relatives for the first time. 730.000 people are taking advantage of this opportunity.

Hinterland Wall

In June 1962, a second wall, referred to as the hinterland wall, gets erected in order to impede people who are trying to defect. At the same time, the first wall gets fortified further.


Since November 9th 1964 onwards, retirees are permitted to travel once a year to the FDR or West Berlin to visit relatives for up to four weeks.

Border Watchdogs

An important element in securing the borders of East Germany were the approximately 3,000 border watchdogs (mostly German shepherds). Border watchdogs were used as tracking-, guard-, and protection dogs, generally held in kennels parallel to the border signal fence. In case an escapee managed to cross the barrier fence, the defection was usually stopped by one of these aggressively trained border watchdogs.