Berlin was conquered by the Red Army in late April and early May 1945. The houses with bullet-holes on Helwig-Wilson's pictures, which bear witness to the heavy house-to-house fighting of 1945, can, in some cases, still be seen today. The Soviet occupation of Berlin brought to an end National Socialist rule and the Second World War in Europe: Adolf Hitler committed suicide on 30th April 1945, and the German army supreme command signed the declaration of unconditional surrender on 7th May.
In the preceding year, the Allied powers had already agreed upon dividing the German capital into occupation zones – in the same way that the country as a whole was to be divided. Originally, three zones had been planned: an American, a British and a Soviet zone. In the summer of 1945, France joined the Allied agreements, and four zones had to be created.

At that time, Berlin consisted of 20 districts, some of which had only recently (1920) Vergrößert Bild 1 + Bildunterschrift und Kommentare ceased to be independent municipalities and been formally integrated into the German capital.
According to the London protocol of 12th September 1944, the Eastern districts (the names of which were: Prenzlauer Berg, Pankow, Mitte, Weißensee, Friedrichshain, Lichtenberg, Treptow and Köpenick) were to make up the Soviet Zone. According to the supplementary agreement of November 1944, the North-Western part of Berlin was to become the British zone and the South-Western part the American zone. Vergrößert Bild 2 + Bildunterschrift und Kommentare In July 1945, a further supplementary agreement created the French zone from part of the planned British zone. The individual districts finally making up the Western Zones were: Wedding and Reinickendorf (French), Tiergarten, Charlottenburg, Spandau and Wilmersdorf (British), Zehlendorf, Steglitz, Schöneberg, Kreuzberg, Neukölln and Tempelhof (American).

However, the creation of Allied sectors did not necessarily imply the division of Berlin as a city - this happened only gradually, in the course of the Cold War.
Vergrößert Bild 3 + Bildunterschrift und Kommentare The Allied Control Council had been set up to ensure that the occupying powers cooperated with each other. However, from March 1948 onward, the Soviet side refused to take part in the Council meetings. Six months later, the city council, the members of which had been freely elected in the whole of Berlin in 1946, was split. The split came about after Communist demonstrators attacked members of parliament from the Western sectors and denied them access to the building, which was situated in the Soviet Zone. The police turned a blind eye. After this incident, most of the members moved to West Berlin to the town hall of the district Schöneberg ("Schöneberger Rathaus" - that's where John F. Kennedy, years later, made his famous speech). Only the members of the "Socialist Unity Party" (which was to become the ruling party of East Germany) remained in the East, and founded their own city council here. Both councils claimed to be the true and democratic goverment of Berlin; but it was only in the West that free elections were held after the split. In the same year, a monetary reform had been carried out in West Germany and West Berlin. In protest against this, the Soviet army blocked the major access routes to West Berlin. To secure the provision of the population of West Berlin with food, coal etc., the Western Allies in turn organized the famous "air lift" until the Soviet blockade was lifted in 1949.
These events, which historians call "the First Berlin Crisis", had deepened the division Vergrößert Bild 4 + Bildunterschrift und Kommentare of the city into East and West even before two German states were founded in the following year: the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) - commonly called "West Germany" - on 23rd May 1949, and the German Democratic Republic (GDR) - commonly called "East Germany" - on 7th October 1949. East Berlin became the capital of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), while Bonn, on the river Rhein, became the capital of the FRG.

Vergrößert Bild 5 + Bildunterschrift und Kommentare While it became increasingly difficult to cross the border between the two Germanies (and between West Berlin and the GDR), the sectorial borders within Berlin remained more or less open, since Berlin never legally lost its Four-Power status. Vergrößert Bild 6 + Bildunterschrift und Kommentare On 17th June 1953, workers went on strike in the East - the only large-scale rise against Communist rule in East Germany for more than 36 years to come. The two weeks after its suppression were the first time when access to West Berlin was completely blocked for East Berliners. However, this measure was soon lifted, leaving people with the impression that any attempts to seal off West Berlin would not last – a belief which many clung to in the first weeks of the "Wall" in August 1961. After 1953, hundreds of thousands of Easterners continued to use Berlin as the easiest escape route to the West. According to East German propagandists, these people had been systematically "wooed away" by Western espionage agencies. Although Western business companies did launch campaigns to win qualified personnel from the East, such propaganda was merely grotesque given the scale of the mass escapes.
Meanwhile, the two parts of Berlin grew apart from each other. The widely different political systems resulted in different living conditions – the discrepancy in living standards between East and West was particularly evident. On top of this, the urban infrastructure was severed bit by bit. Water, power supply and refuse collection were separated. From 1953 onwards, bus and tram lines ended at the borders. Telephone lines were disconnected.

Vergrößert Bild 7 + Bildunterschrift und Kommentare However, the citizens of both parts of Berlin had direct contact with each other in all kinds of ways, Vergrößert Bild 8 + Bildunterschrift und Kommentare until the "Iron Curtain through Europe" (Churchill) became a concrete wall in 1961. The city trains ("S-Bahn") and the underground ("U-Bahn") continued to cross the sectorial borders. West Berliners went to the lakes in the East for recreation; and as many as 50,000 East Berliners (a statistic from 1961) went to the West to work or study. Many East Berliners occasionally went to the West for shopping, cinema etc. The inhabitants of the rest of the GDR, too, saw Berlin as the easiest chance for them to visit the West. Although, in 1952, the number of crossing points between the Soviet and the Western zones was cut back from 277 to about 80, East-West transit was still quite easy until 1961. Checkpoints were signposted and manned, but people crossing were only spot-checked, particularly those carrying suspiciously large amounts of luggage.

The pictures shown in this section were selected from the many photographs Helwig-Wilson took of the sectorial borders. The aim of the selection is to show the variety of images he captured: everyday scenes in the inner city, well-known landmarks of Berlin, deserted border landscapes on the outskirts of the city. Vergrößert Bild 10+ Bildunterschrift und Kommentare Vergrößert Bild 9 + Bildunterschrift und Kommentare