World

When the Berlin Wall first opened

Updated 6:42 AM ET, Thu January 2, 2014
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Two and a half years after it was constructed, the Berlin Wall was temporarily opened during the Christmas season in 1963. From December 20 to January 5, 1964, an agreement between East and West Germany allowed West Berliners to obtain one-day passes to visit relatives in East Berlin. Ian Berry/Magnum Photos
Thousands of people line up December 19, 1963, to apply for passage into East Berlin. An estimated 2 million residents of West Berlin applied for holiday passes to East Berlin, and about half were able to receive one. ap
A Western zone officer, in front of the border crossing at Chausseestrasse, carries a box with the first passes. To be granted a pass, only those with close relatives in East Berlin, such as parents, children, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, were eligible. Mondadori Portfolio/Everett Collection
Cars pass into East Berlin on Christmas Day in 1963. George Menager / Paris Match via Getty Images
The opening brought joyous reunions for separated families. More than 500,000 people were said to have entered East Berlin by midnight December 31. Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images
A West Berlin policeman stops traffic at an crossing point on January 5, 1964. It was the last day West Berliners could visit East Berlin with a permit, although similar holiday openings would take place during the 1960s. Edwin Reichert/ap