Published in 2014, the year of the 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall.
This book is a by-product of the research for a novel about the crisis that became the epicenter of the Cold War. The Day Before the Berlin Wall: Could We Have Stopped It? is the story of one of the American soldiers who worked hard to collect intelligence about East German and Soviet intentions on the eve of the construction of the Berlin Wall in August 1961. It asks the question of why this intelligence was not used, and speculates about what could have happened, if it had been used. That is what makes the novel An Alternate History of Cold War Espionage.
The booklets reproduced in this volume define the historical context of novel. They cover the period 1958--1966, spanning the critical year in which the Wall was built: 1961.
The decision to reproduce these booklets was based on a number of considerations. The CIA Berlin Handbook is not available in print. The copy of the State Department booklet on Berlin at the National Archive is incomplete. The missing pages have been filled in from my own personal archive. The booklets from Berlin Brigade are not to be found on WorldCat, the on-line catalogue of a consortium of libraries, headed by the Library of Congress. Nor are they to be found at the National Archive. Reprinting will make them all available for research libraries to add to their collections.
The second consideration is that—when presented in a single volume— these booklets have a historical value that is greater than the sum of the individual booklets in isolation. The booklets all represent three different perspectives of Berlin: practical, rhetorical, and pragmatic.
The CIA Berlin Handbook is practical. It presents factual data on Berlin, ranging from statistics on the number of East German refugees to the military order of battle for the Group of Soviet Forces, Germany. It lists which railroad bridges on the lines to Berlin are “chambered for demolition,” and presents the statistics on how many refugees have left East Germany since 1949.
The State Department Background Berlin is rhetorical. It presents the legal status of the Four-Power occupation of Berlin in a way that a lawyer would love, replete with original documents of the time, and quotes from Presidents and Secretaries of State. It considers the consequences of “closing the escape hatch” from East Germany, and ponders the effects of West Berlin as a “lighthouse of freedom in a dark totalitarian sea. … [that] demonstrates the material superiorities of a free society which allows and encourages individual initiative.”
Berlin Brigade Special Services Presents Berlin is pragmatic. It presents a guide of how to get on with life in Walled Berlin, ranging from the history of Berlin to where to go shopping and sightseeing. This is the point of view of the Americans who actually lived in Berlin, sharing the fate of those whom it was their impossible duty to defend, because—as the Berlin Handbook says—“the Soviets and East Germans could seize West Berlin at any time.”
Making it easy to compare these perspectives in a single volume is one of the “values added” by this reprint of these booklets. Another is that the State Department and Berlin Brigade booklets create a sense of living history. The differences between pre-Wall and post-Wall editions are presented in-line so that the reader can see how things changed in Berlin between those two points in time.
It is things like this that make it appealing for those interested in the history of Berlin to read these early Berlin-Wall Era booklets in parallel. There is an index to make this easier. No attempt has been made to re-edit the texts. Only blatant typographical errors have been corrected.
Also in this series: Berlin In Early Cold-War Army Booklets: 1946-1958 (2008).
Forthcoming: Berlin in Détente-era Berlin Brigade Booklets (2015).