As early as May 1952, the GDR Council of Ministers had decided to close the GDR’s border to the Federal Republic of Germany and to prohibit movement within five kilometers of it. More than ten thousand people who lived in this area were forced to move.
The GDR state and party leadership also closed the border to West Berlin. Most of the transport connections to the surrounding countryside were shut down. The West Berlin exclave of Steinstücken, for example, could no longer be reached without hindrance.
As part of these measures, all telephone lines between East and West Berlin and between the GDR and West Berlin were severed. West Berliners who wanted to enter the GDR had to apply for permission. The geographical division of the country followed its political division.
When it sealed off the border to West Berlin after 13 August 1961, the GDR leadership restricted travel between the Federal Republic of Germany and West Berlin to specific “transit routes” for transport by road, rail, and ship. “Air corridors” were designated for air traffic.
As a result, checkpoints were also set up on the “outer ring” of the Berlin Wall to control traffic from and to West Berlin. Travelers – and West Berliners with special permits – could also enter the GDR via the border crossings.