Stasi wasn't worried about war over Wall: documents

Fri Aug 13, 2010 10:21am EDT
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By Max Chrambach

BERLIN (Reuters Life!) - As the barbed wire of the Berlin Wall began to rise in 1961, East German secret police realized quickly the West would not go to war over the divided city, entrenching the policy of confrontation and significantly shaping Cold War history.

These revelations are chronicled in documents made public by the office in charge of the archives of the Stasi secret police on the 49th anniversary of the Wall's construction on Friday.

"The Americans in West Berlin now need to show what their promises are worth," a Stasi spy wrote on August 13, 1961.

But a day later, the mood in Eastern German intelligence had shifted.

"The Western powers would never risk a war on the grounds of the German Democratic Republic's actions," the Stasi quoted a British source as saying on August 14.

Daniela Muenkel, project leader at the Office of the Federal Commissioner for the Stasi records, told Reuters the documents show how the initial anxiety about how the West would react to the Wall's construction quickly faded.

"These documents don't re-write the history of the Berlin Wall. But they do show us how the Stasi viewed the Wall's construction, which until now we knew little about," said Muenkel, who published excerpts from the archives in Berliner Zeitung newspaper on Friday.

The documents show East German and Soviet intelligence were well-informed about West German politics, giving them a clear advantage in the tense stand-off around Berlin, Muenkel said.   Continued...