There are reams of academic studies of the Cold War, but I found these to be particularly accessible and immediate in detail:
Agee, Joel. Twelve Years: An American Boyhood in East Germany. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1975.
Cates, Curtis. The Ides of August: The Berlin Wall Crisis 1961. New York: M. Evans and Company, Inc., 1978.
Donner, Jorn. Report from Berlin. Translated by Albin T. Anderson. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1961.
Gilmore, George H., Sr. A Cold War Soldier: A Memoir of Service in West Berlin and Elsewhere. Self-published: July 2005
Kempe, Frederick. Berlin 1961: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth. New York: Berkley Press, 2011.
Lowe, Yoshika Lofti, and Trisha A. Lindsey, editors. Cold War Memories: A Retrospective on Living in Berlin. Middletown, DE: Brats Overseas Books, 2014.
Taylor, Frederick. The Berlin Wall: A World Divided, 1961–1989. New York: Harper Perennial, 2007.
Bainbridge, John. “Die Mauer: the Early Days of the Berlin Wall.” The New Yorker, October 19, 1962.
American Experience: JFK. PBS, American Experience Films, 2013.
The Jazz Ambassadors. BBC, Normal Life Pictures, Antelope South Ltd, 13 Productions LLC, 2018.
The Cold War. CNN and BBC-2, 1998.
BRATS: Our Journey Home. Brats Without Borders, 2005.
Line of Separation (Tannbach). ZDF miniseries, 2015. Available on PBS Passport (in German)
(Opening in eastern Germany at the very end of WWII, this series shows both the chaos and fear of those final days and the arrival and the brutal retribution/plundering of the Soviets. It was all handled delicately, though, the worst moments happening off camera. I found this series particularly poignant, and it helped me understand why some Germans would have welcomed Soviet-style communism at first, but come to grieve the splitting of their families and world. This review is good insight: wgbh.org/programs/2020/01/29/review-line-of-separation-on-pbs-an-elegant-if-uneven-portrayal-of-daily-life-in-germany-after-wwii )
FEATURE FILMS (PG-13)
I particularly recommend these first four films, especially for students:
Stop Train 349. Allied Artists Pictures, 1963.
(This film depicted a factual escape attempt in 1961 by an East German climbing into the window of a stopped “Duty Train.” For more on the real life incident see: jstor.org/stable/26388154 )
Night People. 20th Century Fox, 1954.
(This film opens with a young American soldier being nabbed on the street by the Stasi and is a bone-chilling, authentic portrait of the harrowing world of Berlin in the 1950s. See this original review: hollywoodreporter.com/movies/movie-news/night-people-review-1954-movie-1188143/ )
The Man Between. United Artists, 1953.
(Another film done at the time of the Cold War’s stand-off in Berlin, this depiction of the espionage and intrigues in the divided city is spot-on. bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/news-bfi/features/five-reasons-man-between-carol-reed-james-mason
Berlin Tunnel 21. CBS-TV Movie, 1981.
(Based on a novel by Donald Lindquist, the TV movie compellingly portrays the day the Wall went up and then the kind of tunneling brave souls did to escape)
Funeral in Berlin. Paramount Pictures, 1966.
Balloon. Distrib Films, 2020. (in German)
Labyrinth of Lies. Claussen Wöbke Putz Filmproduktion, 2015. (in German)
Bridge of Spies. DreamWorks Pictures, 2016.