New CWIHP Publication: "Exploiting and Securing the Open Border in Berlin" by Paul Maddrell

Feb 03, 2009

CWIHP is pleased to announce the publication of the latest addition to the CWIHP Working Paper Series, Working Paper No. 58, "Exploiting and Securing the Open Border in Berlin: The Western Secret Services, the Stasi, and the Second Berlin Crisis, 1958-1961," by Paul Maddrell, Aberystwyth University, Great Britain.

Drawing on documents from the East German archives, and especially on documents of the former East German secret police (the Stasi), Paul Maddrell reassesses the goals of the East German state in building the Berlin Wall. Generally, the literature on the East Germans' and Soviets' decision to close the sectoral border in Berlin presents it as a means of maintaining the stability of the GDR regime by stopping the flow of refugees to the West. Maddrell argues, that while this was the primary purpose behind the action, it was not the only one. The open border in Berlin exposed the GDR to massive espionage and subversion and, as the two documents in the appendices show, its closure gave the Communist state greater security.

The closure of the sectoral border in Berlin was the key moment in the history of the MfS' counter-espionage and counter-subversion services, Maddrell argues. The East German police state did not function properly prior to 1961 because East Germans could escape it. Western services could carry out espionage and subversion against the GDR with the impunity given by a safe haven within the borders of the communist state. The East German documents offer insight not only into the mindset of the East German state security forces, but also offer a window into the activities of Western intelligence services at the beginning of the Cold War.

To download the paper, click here or browse the entire CWIHP Working Paper series.

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