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Nixon Makes Surprise Visit to East Berlin

July 24, 1963 - Richard M. Nixon made a surprise two-hour trip into East Berlin tonight. It was the second trip of the day into the Communist sector for the former Vice President and his wife, Pat. On the first trip, they were accompanied by about 20 carloads of Western newsmen and five carloads of Communist agents. (Pictured below, Mr. Nixon shows his papers to an East German officer for entry.) But on his second visit, only an official from the U.S. diplomatic mission in West Berlin, a Nixon traveling companion from California, and a Western correspondent went along. Nixon had said: “I want to go back over without my Communist guides and try to get an idea of what life is really like there.” Soon after Nixon’s small party entered East Berlin the second time, a man in his fifties asked where they were from. “We are from the United States,” Nixon answered while the correspondent interpreted. “Our only hope lies in you Americans,” the man replied. Apparently, he did not recognize Nixon. An approaching East German policeman ended the conversation. The Nixon party then went to a small government-owned nightclub. Soon after sitting down, patrons began coming over to shake hands with the former Vice President of the United States. “Don’t you ever forget that we’re not all Red here,” one club patron told him. Nixon was visibly moved. The Nixon party spent about an hour at the club. At their exit, a woman grabbed Mrs. Nixon’s hand and kissed it, saying, “Pray for us.” A screech of brakes announced the arrival of two East German security agents. Then a cab pulled up, and the driver told Nixon he would take him back to the border crossing point. On the advice of the U.S. official with them, the Nixons decided to return to West Berlin. Later, Mr. Nixon called East Berlin “the most tightly controlled police state in the world,” adding: “I never saw in Moscow, Warsaw, Budapest, or Siberia anything to approach it.”


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