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Death at the Berlin Wall$
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Pertti Ahonen

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199546305

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199546305.001.0001

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The East–West clash at its peak

The East–West clash at its peak

(p.38) 2 The East–West clash at its peak
Death at the Berlin Wall

Pertti Ahonen (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter covers the timespan between August–September 1961 and the period around the first anniversary of the Wall's construction in late summer 1962. During this time, the Cold War East–West clash at the Berlin Wall reached its crescendo, provoked in good part by the killing of the best-known Wall victim in the West: Peter Fechter, who died in central Berlin in dramatic circumstances on 17 August 1962. The reactions to his death perpetuated and in some ways intensified the polarized and instrumentalized public discourses about the Wall and its victims, particularly in West Germany and West Berlin. Fechter's death also played a bigger political role in prodding West Berlin's policy-makers to start thinking of new ways to alleviate the human costs of Germany's division, thereby helping to give early impulses for the gradual emergence of East–West détente.

Keywords:   Berlin, Berlin Wall, Germany, GDR, division, escape, Peter Fechter, legitimacy, Willy Brandt, détente, death

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