National Geographic : 1970 Jan
built a fortress on the spot now known as Marx-Engels-Platz. When Berliners revolted in the 1440's, this ruler-dubbed "Iron Frede rick"-abolished their governing council, cur tailed their privileges, and forced them into subjugation. He also had the city's coat of arms redesigned, placing the Berlin bear on all fours, with the Hohenzollern eagle perched on its back to signify mastery. The crest still shows the bear, but it proudly stands again. On the Marx-Engels-Platz today the East German Army parades in the long shadow of 20 Russian divisions based on German soil, and a new restraint keeps the people of East Berlin in subjugation. "It was a Saturday night, August 12, 1961," my friend Bernd Lucht recalled. "A million people over there in East Berlin went to bed without any idea of what was going to hap- pen. But I will bet that many of them were planning to get out of Communist Germany. More than three million people had fled the Soviet zone up to that time, and the rate was increasing to about 2,000 a day. You simply took a 20-pfennig train ride to the refugee camp at Marienfelde in West Berlin, since freedom of movement had been guaranteed by the protocols governing the city.* "At 2 a.m. on Sunday, tanks and trucks rolled in with East German troops and Peo ple's Police. Train service to the West stopped, stations were sealed, and building of the Wall began. A million people woke up in jail. "But don't forget that West Berlin is a kind of jail, too. We are on a political island deep inside a hostile state, isolated and surrounded *See "Berlin, Island in a Soviet Sea," by Frederick G. Vosburgh, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, November 1951.