Foreign Affairs

A City Divided: Life and Death in the Shadow of the Wall

On Tuesday, January 14, 2014, the National Archives National Declassification Center (NDC), in partnership with the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) Historical Review Program, will host a free symposium to tell the story of the people of Berlin and their struggle for freedom.

The symposium will highlight newly published and released declassified documents that reveal East and West Berliners' struggle for life and death in the shadow of the wall. The documents detail many aspects of their lives, focusing on the resolve of the human spirit for freedom and equality.

With his iconic speech on June 26, 1963, President John F. Kennedy united the citizens of Berlin with the United States by stating that he too was a Berliner. Twenty-four years later, President Ronald Reagan declared in Berlin that "I do not come here to lament. For I find in Berlin a message of hope, even in the shadow of this wall, a message of triumph."

For this project we have released 11,000 pages of newly declassified documents on various topics and activities on Berlin from 1962 to 1986—the years between these two famous speeches by American Presidents. Attendees of the January 14 symposium will receive a free publication and DVD compilation of 1,324 documents, selected from both NARA and CIA collections. The booklet and DVD can also be accessed online through links at the bottom of this page. An additional 1,140 documents will be posted online and will be accessible through the National Archives Catalog.

The full document release is available for research at the National Archives at College Park, MD, located at 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD. Research hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Sundays and Federal Holidays).


  • National Declassification Center - Sheryl Shenberger
  • Archivist of the United States - David S. Ferriero
  • Director, Information Management Services, CIA - Joseph Lambert
  • National Declassification Center - Neil Carmichael
  • Associate Professor at the George Washington University and Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center - Dr. Hope M. Harrison
  • Director, History & Public Policy Program and Cold War International History Project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars - Dr. Christian F. Ostermann
  • Central Intelligence Agency - Dr. Donald P. Steury

For more information:

Please email all inquiries to


"A City Divided, Life & Death in the Shadow of the Wall", Conference Publication (23 MB)

Selected Records Relating to Divided Berlin at the National Archives, a finding aid

Flight to the West, a NATO photo essay by James R. Florent (1961)

The Wall Remained, Essay by Donald P. Steury

Online Collection from our Conference DVD

A City Divided Life & Death in the Shadow of the Wall is a document collection put together for the conference, now rescheduled for January 14, 2014. It is a multi-media Flash presentation showcasing photos, audio, and video materials from:

  • the Declassification Center and the Historical Collections at the National Archives and Records Administration
  • the Information Review and Release Divisions of the Central Intelligence Agency's Office of Information Services

This online collection contains over 500 documents and over 12,000 pages of materials. It is only a small part of the greater collection located at the National Archives and Records Administration in College Park, Maryland. The documents included are in PDF format.

View the document collection