...figured that the Cold War story might be of some interest. Always assumed that it had been a Sov decision -- as you know, that's not the kind of action that the client state would have wanted to conduct sans instructions or endorsement.
Historians have long argued over whether East German leader Walter Ulbricht or his Soviet counterpart Nikita Khrushchev was ultimately responsible for the construction of the Berlin Wall. A newly discovered Russian document from August 1961 provides some answers.
For years, historians have been trying to clear this contradiction, and now an answer may be in the offing. It appears in a Soviet document that Matthias Uhl of the German Historical Institute in Moscow has discovered: a previously unknown record of a conversation that took place between the two leaders on Aug. 1, 1961.
By that time, the preparations for building the Wall were well underway, and the initiative apparently came from Khrushchev, as he said himself in the August meeting with his East German counterpart. A short time earlier, according to the document, Khrushchev had sent the Soviet ambassador in East Berlin to Ulbricht in order to "explain to him my idea of taking advantage of the current tensions with the West and laying an iron ring around Berlin." In the conversation, Khrushchev pointed out that "many engineers" had already left East Germany, and that something "had to be done."
Khrushchev wanted to convince the East German population that the wall being built would protect them from Western spies, and he said that the Germans would understand.
But even Khrushchev didn't appear to totally believe his own propaganda. When Ulbricht told him, during the August meeting, that he wanted to bring his economic experts into the loop, Khrushchev advised him otherwise. "You should not explain anything before the introduction of the new border regime," he said. "It would only strengthen the flow of people leaving."
If word got out about the wall construction, the Kremlin director recognized correctly, there could be "traffic jams" on Berlin's access roads. Such forms of traffic obstruction would constitute "a certain demonstration," he said.
Jacked & Hacked Spiegel Online