Couple of questions about Berlin and East Germany

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Jordo, Feb 10, 2012.

Welcome to the Army Rumour Service, ARRSE

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial military website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  1. Pardon me for being a bit thick, but I've got a couple of questions about East Germany and Berlin in the Cold War.

    Referring to this map here:

    Why did so many people risk everything trying to cross the Berlin Wall? Unless I'm missing something wouldn't it have been much easier (relatively) to enter the NATO occupied areas from outside the city? Or were the Soviet checkpoints here just as bad? If so, then how were NATO units in the City supplied, entirely by an air corridor?

    Also, where were the "starting lines" for the respective formations of each side deployed? Along the border between East and West Germany? If so, then this meant that if everything had gone pete tong then the NATO formations in Berlin would have started completely surrounded. Was this actually the case or were there contingencies In place to break through to reinforce Berlin if it all kicked off? I was under the impression that if the Soviets had decided to attack, they'd pretty much steam roll their way to the channel, and the NATO forces' job was to hold out long enough to for us to send Russia some instant sunshine.

    Don't really know much about this though so can anyone recommend any good books about Cold War Europe and the armies of NATO and the WP? I'm off on holiday soon and I fancy some good books to read.
  2. Someone will be along shortly to tell you that the reason people were being shot going over the wall was due to the Communist block not wanting the West to realise just how good a thing Socialism was and didn't want hordes of westies to come and ruin thier workers paradise.
    • Like Like x 2
    • Like Like x 2
  3. I didn't know that, I'd just assumed it cut through the centre of Berlin and the rest of the border was just checkpoints, watchtowers that sort of thing.
  4. Brotherton Lad

    Brotherton Lad LE Reviewer

    The wall went all around West Berlin which was not occupied by NATO, but by US, UK and Fr forces of about a brigade each plus tiny air contingents, eg the RAF had one Chipmunk. All agreed under post war Quadripartite deals.

    The Allied forces in West Berlin were little more than a trip-wire and we understood (in the 80s) that the Sovs would leave West Berlin for the East Germans to capture. I seem to remember that we (the Brits) expected to be able to hold our positions for several days. There was little hope of any break-through to relieve us. Our presence there was more a demonstration of political intent.

    Allied forces in West Berlin were supplied by road, rail and air along authorised corridors through the Sov Occupied Zone (or DDR as it was also known). The Berlin airlift in the late 40s was required when the Sovs closed the land routes.
    • Like Like x 2
  5. There used to be a Close/Medium Recce Regiment in Wolfenbüttel that held a twice yearly exercise called Probe Ex (with the Yanks)to clear the Berlin Corridor from Helmstedt to Berlin.I think they had a snowballs chance in hell of getting through!
  6. As far I as was told by my parents (we were in West Berlin in the '60s), if the Soviets decided to "unify" Berlin into the socialist paradise the other side of the wall, then apparently, they would give 24 hours notice so that all non-local, non-military personnel could leave - it was expected to fall in less than seven days. West Berlin was more of political stance rather than of any real military importance. My dear old mum used to maintain that the saying was "Keep a red flag and bottle of vodka in the sideboard, just in case..."
    • Like Like x 2
  7. Thanks for that, that's what I wanted to know.

    What were your instructions? (I'm assuming you did a tour there?) Just to hold out as long as possible then surrender?
  8. No, it went all round Berlin, and along the entire border of the DDR. They weren't ******* about. East Germans were also shot attempting to cross other Warsaw pact borders with the west.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Brotherton Lad

    Brotherton Lad LE Reviewer

    • Like Like x 1
  10. Brotherton Lad

    Brotherton Lad LE Reviewer

    I did about a year as OC anti-tank Pl. On crash out (practised often in Ex Rocking Horse) the Bn would occupy positions in the Spandau/Wilmersdorf area using the big canals as obstacles. It was difficult to train properly for, we could hardly kick the occupants of the flats and houses we'd be moving into for real, so exercises would often end up in the Grunewald and then we'd go back to barracks. Troops had lots of other duties, guards, border patrols and parades to keep them busy.
  11. Us Cold War Warriors were stood down waaaaay too early. I told 'em about Caya Blanco Del Sur, but did they listen?

    My source on the Todestreifen tells me the troops are massing at the border. Oberfeldwebel Buggzenhofen is firing up the kuebel as we speak.

    I still have my Active Edge kit in the loft, and await the call.
  12. Brotherton Lad

    Brotherton Lad LE Reviewer

    It's all coming together. Brownie points to the first to ID the lorry.

  13. Robur 2002LA?
  14. On the plus side when we used to nip into East Berlin for a few hours our West DM were worth about five times so you could have a good meal for next to nowt. Ive still got a genuine piece of Berlin Wall taken a few weeks after the wall came down.....its genuine I tell you and not a chunk from some ones toilet wall like the Yanks used to buy for 20DM a chunk.