BY far the most visible and redoubtable monument to the cold war remains the 840-mile barricade of barbed wire, minefields, watchtowers and armed police that has constituted the frontier between divided Germany for two decades. In spite of the political détente that is expected to arise from the recent state treaty signed by the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic, East German authorities are reinforcing the deadly barrier. In recent months, for example, workmen have been methodically replacing the barbed wire fences with new gratings; their mesh is too fine to climb.

Such grim improvements in the barrier are...

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