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Rockefeller Visits East Berlin

Sept. 29, 1963 - Governor Nelson Rockefeller (R-N.Y.) had to tell the East German Communists today how much money he had in his wallet. A customs officer popped this question as the Governor went through formalities at a border checkpoint before touring East Berlin. “Just give me round numbers,” the young East German said seriously while members of Rockefeller’s entourage and American newsmen chuckled in the background. “Six hundred dollars,” Rockefeller replied, and the customs man dutifully marked it on the declaration form. The Governor’s wife, Margaretta, declared $150. “Where do you live in the United States?” the East German asked. “Albany, New York,” Rockefeller replied, grinning broadly. The Governor, who arrived in West Berlin Sunday morning for a one-day visit, was accompanied to East Berlin by diplomats from the U.S mission. Once the car carrying the Governor and his wife went through the steel barriers, three carloads of East German secret police attached themselves to the motorcade, which at one point totaled 16 cars. Upon his return to West Berlin, Rockefeller said: “It was like coming out of a prison — a prison in which 17 million people are kept. I was impressed by the desolate dejection of the city and of the people. You see maybe one car every three blocks and almost no people.” Rockefeller and his party toured the Berlin wall and stopped at Bernauerstrasse, where the Reds bricked up windows of houses on their side of the street to prevent escapes. “If the Communists really want to relax world tension,” Rockefeller said, “all they have to do is take this wall down and let there be self-determination of the East Germans.”


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