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Press Release
October 5, 2011

National Declassification Center and Central Intelligence Agency Mark 50th Anniversary of Berlin Crisis of 1961 with National Archives program
October 27

"A City Torn Apart, Building of the Berlin Wall" conference marks 50th anniversary of crisis

More Information

Washington, DC…On Thursday, October 27, 2011, the National Archives National Declassification Center (NDC), in partnership with the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) Historical Review Program, will host a conference to mark the 50th anniversary of the Berlin Crisis of 1961. The conference is free and open to the public, and will be held from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM in the William G. McGowan Theater of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC.

Newly released declassified documents related to the Berlin Crisis will be made available online and in print for the first time on October 27, in conjunction with the conference. These newly declassified documents include intelligence reports, U.S. Army and NATO contingency plans, memoranda, photographs and maps of the earliest stages of the Berlin Wall, and a contemporary 600-page State Department analysis covering the situation in Berlin from 1958-1962.

Archivist of the United States, David S. Ferriero, and Director of Information Management Services at the CIA, Joseph Lambert, will provide opening remarks. Georgetown University adjunct professor Dr. William R. Smyser will deliver the keynote address. Dr. Smyser, author of Kennedy and the Berlin Wall, served as Assistant to General Lucius Clay, Kennedy’s personal representative in Berlin. Dr. Smyser was the last person to cross the Potsdamer Platz in a car as the Wall was being erected.

Dr. Donald P. Steury, CIA historian, will host a discussion on military, historical, and diplomatic views of the crisis. The panel will include the following: historian at the US Army Center of Military History, Dr. Don Carter; Historian, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), Dr. Gregory W. Pedlow; historian at the George Washington University and the Woodrow Wilson Center, Dr. Hope Harrison; and retired CIA officer Lou Mehrer.

Conference topics include:

  • How the East German Leadership Persuaded the Reluctant Soviets to Build the Berlin Wall;
  • Events and Decisions Leading Up to the Building of the Berlin Wall - The East German Perspective; and
  • The U.S. Military Response to the 1960-62 Berlin Crisis.

See the conference web page [www.archives.gov/research/foreign-policy/cold-war/1961-berlin-crisis/2011-conference.html].

For reservations and more information, e-mail berlin.1961crisis@nara.gov.

The National Archives Building is located on the National Mall at Constitution Ave. and 7th Street, NW, and is fully accessible. Metro: Yellow and Green lines, Archives/Navy Memorial/Penn Quarter station. Attendees should use the Special Events entrance on 7th and Constitution Ave, NW.

Related October 25 film screening at the National Archives at College Park, MD

On Tuesday, October 25, at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., the National Archives at College Park Maryland, located at 8601 Adelphi Road, will show the 1962 NATO-produced film “Background to Berlin” in the auditorium. See directions.

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For press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs Staff at 202-357-5300.

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