The Berlin wall was a symbol of life behind the Iron Curtain for nearly 28 years. It was a rigorously guarded barrier to keep citizens of East Germany under the Communist German Democratic Republic. In The Fall of the Berlin Wall, William F. Buckley Jr. details the events leading to the construction of the Berlin Wall, and the effects the wall and it's demise had on the people of Berlin, the other Eastern Bloc countries, and the rest of the world.
After the second World War, the 1945 Yalta Conference determined the fate of Germany. It was divided into four sectors, as was Berlin, with each sector being ruled by a World War II victor. Great Britain, France, the United States controlling West Germany and West Berlin and the Soviet Union controlling East Germany and East Berlin. The powers were to make policy decisions together. The Soviet Union, however, stopped sending representation to the joint occupation meetings, and in 1949 gave power to the German Democratic Republic. This government became a satellite nation of the Soviet Union. Although he wasn't the actual premier or President of the German Democratic Republic, Walter Ulbricht had the most power due to his strong ties to Soviet leadership.
Apparently, Walter Ulbricht had a plan to divide Germany back in 1952, and in July of 1960 his actions started to appear suspicious. He claimed that a polio epidemic was plaguing West Germany, so travel would have to be restricted between East and West Germany. The day he announced this epidemic, he secretly traveled to Moscow to meet with the leaders of the Warsaw Pact. His main concern was receiving their aid in controlling the refugees from East to West Germany. He revealed his plan for a "secret seal-off matter", a concrete wall dividing East and West Germany, and also East and West Berlin. Khruschev was cautious, but came up with the plan that Ulbricht's troops were to started stringing barbed wire, but if the Allies responded with force, they were to drop back.
The plan went into effect in the early morning hours of August 13, 1961. When President Kennedy learned of the divider, he was upset at the intelligence forces not informing him of any such plan. After finding out that the wall didn't endanger West Germany, he let his secretary off to go to a ball game, and went sailing. West Germany was the only concern of the United States, as Foy Kohler of the State Department said, "After all, the East-Germans have done us a favor. That refugee flow was becoming embarrassing." If America had known that a simple show of force at the wall construction site would have prevented 28 years of death and suffering for East Germans, maybe the reaction would have been different.
On August 22, the East German government issued three new rules. Citizens of West Berlin would have to gain a special permit to enter East Berlin, border crossings were cut down to seven from twelve, and all citizens of West Berlin must stay 100 meters back from the...