A Cold War Tourist and His Camera: A photographic tour of hot spots in Europe, America, Canada, and Africa during the height of the Cold War.
by Martha Langford and John Langford
View of East Berlin, May 1963
In 1963 there were only a few parts of the city where a proper wall had been built. In many places, east-west streets were simply blocked off by wire, barriers, and devices designed to stop any vehicles. Warren Langford’s and Volkmar Wentzel’s photographs of Bernauer Strasse, to be considered presently, illustrate the most sinister development, the bricking-up of windows and doorways of buildings that were right on the border. In 1963 East Germans were still living and working in some of these buildings. Their homes and offices were systematically emptied of people and their possessions turned into hollow barriers. Later such structures were all knocked down to make room for the ‘death strip,’ part of a system of high concrete slab walls, spotlights, tripwires, crash barriers, booby traps, patrolling guards (the Grepos and Vopos), and their infamous dogs. These nightmarish images of Berlin fuelled beliefs in the irreconcilability of East and West, conditions in the present creating amnesia about the past.

View of East Berlin, May 1963

In 1963 there were only a few parts of the city where a proper wall had been built. In many places, east-west streets were simply blocked off by wire, barriers, and devices designed to stop any vehicles. Warren Langford’s and Volkmar Wentzel’s photographs of Bernauer Strasse, to be considered presently, illustrate the most sinister development, the bricking-up of windows and doorways of buildings that were right on the border. In 1963 East Germans were still living and working in some of these buildings. Their homes and offices were systematically emptied of people and their possessions turned into hollow barriers. Later such structures were all knocked down to make room for the ‘death strip,’ part of a system of high concrete slab walls, spotlights, tripwires, crash barriers, booby traps, patrolling guards (the Grepos and Vopos), and their infamous dogs. These nightmarish images of Berlin fuelled beliefs in the irreconcilability of East and West, conditions in the present creating amnesia about the past.

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