BBC Unlocks Berlin Wall Archive

bbcAudiences are now be able to re-live one of the defining moments in post-war history as the BBC Archive releases its latest online collection documenting the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall.  The collection reveals the history of the Berlin Wall from its post-war creation to the huge popular uprising that saw it torn down in 1989 and focuses on the impact of the Iron Curtain on the lives of East and West Berliners.  Broadcasts spanning the period from the Soviet Blockade in 1948 to the formal reunification of Germany in 1990, and explores how one city came to represent the political stand-off between East and West during the Cold War will now be available

Published just weeks before the world celebrates the 20th anniversary of the fall of the wall, the collection will enable the public to witness footage not seen in decades and hear first hand accounts of one of the most defining moments in history.  It also explores what the consequences of this were for citizens united by family, employment and friendship but divided by a 27-mile-long fortified concrete and mesh barrier.

Kicking off with a special news broadcast on the hardship endured in West Berlin during the Berlin Blockade in 1949, the archive shows how the combined effort of the Western powers through the Berlin Airlift forced the Soviet Union to back down by delivering 13,000 tons of food daily through 200,000 flights in an operation lasting almost a year. Other historical treasures include:

* Panorama in 1959 as Robert Key hears from young Berliners, a generation facing a crisis that is not of their making

* Peter Woods reporting from Berlin in 1961 whilst witnessing the boundary between East and West being sealed with a concrete wall. He describes the ominous events that have taken place throughout the day, including the closure of an underground station and the movement of some East Berliners across the border. By the end of that night, all access between the two sides of Berlin was closed

* Edward Kennedy’s visit to the city in 1963 revealing the labyrinthine diplomatic implications of having to show his passport to East German officials so that he could visit the communist sector of the city

* Richard Dimbleby reporting live from West Berlin in 1965 on the historic visit there by The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh

* Specials news features from Panorama and Newsnight including an incredible special report from Peter Snow in 1989 as the Berlin Wall starts to be taken apart

* A studio discussion, from East Berlin, about the immediate and long term prospects for the future of Germany is interrupted by reporter Olenka Frenkiel who brings in a piece of the wall in a historic television moment

* Finally, from 1990, the collection brings viewers two reports as Martin Bell witnesses the celebrations overnight outside the Reichstag, while Ben Brown experiences a calmer city the morning after. Philip Hayton speaks live to veteran reporter Charles Wheeler as he stood at the Brandenburg Gate to consider the cultural differences between East and West Berliners.

This latest online collection has been released as part of the BBC’s plans to open up parts of its extensive archive dating back to 1922.  This is the latest in a series to be released online which explore the cultural and political developments that shaped the 20 century and is avalaible at

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About Charlotte J

Graduate, journalist, blogger and follower of all things media.