On This Day In History: Berlin Opened For One Day – On Dec 20, 1963

On December 20, 1963, two years after the beginning of the construction of the Berlin Wall, 4,000 West Berlin citizens were allowed for the first time to visit their relatives and friends living in East Berlin.

Until this moment, West Berliners were prevented from visiting East Germany and East Berlin. In 1963, negotiations between East and West allowed visits during the Christmas season that year but only for short time and limited number of persons.

Under an agreement signed between both East Germany and West Germany, more than 170,000 passes were issued throughout the subsequent years, granting West Germans access to communist territory. These passes allowed a one-day visit and were restricted to East Berlin.

At the close of the Second World War in 1945, Soviet forces occupied eastern Germany, while the United States and other allied forces took control of the western part of the country.

The wall was built in 1961, initially to stop East Berliners from fleeing to the west, as approximately 20 percent of the East German population had migrated to West Germany.

Throughout the years, it stood as a symbolic boundary representing the political and economical division between East and West, commonly known as the Iron Curtain.

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