Helion's Cold War Berlin: An Island City Vol.2

Author/Artists: Andrew Long


Helion  Publishing


$24.95 MSRP from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 96 pages, softcover, over 100 images
ISBN 978-1-914377-10-5

This is the second of two volumes on Berlin during the cold war. The first took us up to the year of the Berlin Wall. This one continues on from there until the fall of the Soviet Union and the fall of the wall. As mentioned in the first volume, the leadership of East Germany felt that they needed to keep a tight rein on the people of East Germany. However, with a fairly porous border, the nation was losing what was needed to help make the country the worker's paradise they had hoped. The people that left were scientists, teachers, technicians and others who felt that life was better in the west.

One of the main places that these folks sought refuge was west Berlin. In order to put an end to this, the East German government decided to put up a wall. This was not a wall meant to keep others out, but one to keep people in.

It was very much a gamble as no one was sure just how the west would react to the wall. Thus some fairly complex planning took place in secret to gather together the men, materials and equipment to build the first wal and in the middle of the night on 12-13 August 1961, East German troops and other workers started stringing barb wire, digging up streets and rail track, installing posts and within a fairly short period of time, had west Berlin fully surrounded. Of course, this reduced the number of people entering the west from the east drastically and in the ensuing days, an actual wall started to be built to replace the barb wire. The wall and surrounds were modified several times over the years and all of this is fully covered. In addition, other border walls are included.

In with this was an order to the border guards to shoot to kill anyone attempting to flee. Houses and businesses next to the new wall were boarded up, citizens evacuated with just a few hours notice and eventually the buildings themselves torn down to provide a 'killing zone' for the border troops. Over time, the wall system became even more and more elaborate.

Within this book, the authors not only go into all the machinations of the east, but also the situation in the west that led up to the decision to build the wall. ln addition there were other crises concerning the wall and the political intrigue that followed. Stories of those who made the crossing after the wall was up and those who didn't are also included.

In all, it is another superb Helion history that looks in depth into this part of the cold war through which many of us lived. I know I can recall the headlines when the wall went up, and so, I'm sure, can some of you. It is a great read that I know you will enjoy and is yet another from this publisher that I can highly recommend.

October 2021

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