berlin wall failed escape attempts

Within the inner security zone, the Schutzstreifen, a further 743 people (15%) were arrested by the border guards. The Wall had just been constructed for three days. They were able to escape detection by being concealed under the carcasses of slaughtered and stuffed pigs being transported to the West. The West German authorities established a "Central Recording Office" to record details of deaths on the border, with the ultimate aim of prosecuting the offenders. As this exposed Lange to severe punishment by his superiors for disobeying the order to shoot, Lange made his own escape ten minutes later. Those caught in the act were often tried for espionage as well and given proportionately harsher sentences. Horst Klein said he ‘couldn’t live any longer without the smell of the circus’ to newspapers in the city at the time and in December 1962 he made his brave escape over the wall. But his new West Berlin ID card cannot help him on 13 August 1961 when he finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. The jump was not so difficult then.” A journalist captured Schumann’s leap and he became a hero to the free world, but in the East he was a traitor. Berlin Wall History: Escape attempts to the West. It is not known how many people died on the inner German border or who they were, as East Germany treated such information as a closely guarded secret. One notable exception was Helmut Kleinert, a 23-year-old from Quedlinburg in Saxony-Anhalt who was machine-gunned to death on 1 August 1963 as he and his 22-year-old pregnant wife attempted to cross the border near Hohegeiß in the Harz mountains. Others committed suicide, while a few were able to find wives and work on the eastern side of the border. One of the most spectacular was the balloon escape in September 1979 of eight people from two families in a home-made hot-air balloon. Other escapees relied more on physical strength and endurance. [17] Soviet soldiers also sometimes escaped across the border, though this was very rare. Four stone memorials were erected in East Berlin to mark their deaths. ... [W]orkers throughout Germany will demand punishment for those who today leave the German Democratic Republic, the strong bastion of the fight for peace, to serve the deadly enemy of the German people, the imperialists and militarists. On 13 October 1961, Westfälische Rundschau journalist Kurt Lichtenstein was shot on the border near the village of Zicherie after he attempted to speak with East German farm workers. Ultimately, in August 1971, the memorial was replaced by a stone set 150 metres (490 ft) away and out of sight of the border. Soldiers patrolled the barrier, and they were ordered to shoot anyone who tried to escape. West Germans such as Michael Gartenschläger and Kurt Lichtenstein were commemorated with signs and memorials, some of which were supported by the government. [19] A number of Allied military personnel, including British, French, West German, and United States troops, also defected. Months before the Wall goes up he flees to the West and goes into hiding. The imposition of collective agriculture and the crushing of the 1953 East German uprising prompted thousands to flee to the West, as did further coercive economic restructuring in 1960. Schumann suffered from depression and was found hanging from a tree in the woods. Some escapees were shot by the border guards, while others were killed by mines and booby-traps. After the border was fortified and the Berlin Wall was constructed, the number of illegal border crossings fell drastically. As stated in our thesis, ". An escapee in 1987 used meat hooks to scale the border fences,[12] while in 1971 a doctor swam 45 kilometres (28 mi) across the Baltic Sea from Rostock almost to the Danish island of Lolland, before he was picked up by a West German yacht. The numbers fell further as the border defenses were improved over the subsequent decades. [13] Another escapee used an air mattress to escape across the Baltic in 1987. After a failed first attempt, the two families finally soared over the Wall on Sep. 16, 1979, landing after 30 minutes in a blackberry bush on West German soil. The Berlin Wall was erected in 1961 with the purpose of preventing any emigration and defection from East Germany to West Germany and in it’s lifetime saw approximately 5,000 people attempt escapes over, or under it. He helped more than 30 people escape this way before being caught in March 1976 when border police inspected his car and found his own sister and her boyfriend in the trunk. ("Halt! Find out more about how we use your information in our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. The fate of such defectors varied considerably. There is a memorial plaque on the site to commemorate the escape and the death of Schultz. The construction of the Berlin Wall that year reduced the number of escapees by 75% to around 2,300 per annum for the rest of the decade. Berlin was also divided up into four sectors between the USA, the UK, France, and the Soviet Union. [3] Those who helped escapees were not Fluchthelfer ("escape helpers"), the Western term, but Menschenhändler ("human traffickers"). The three brothers were reunited for the first time in a decade. The border guards who died on the frontier were, however, portrayed as "martyrs" by the East German regime. You can change your choices at any time by visiting Your Privacy Controls. Some were sent straight to labour camps on charges of espionage. His death aroused condemnation across the political spectrum in West Germany; he was a former parliamentary representative of the German Communist Party. [25], The border guards were under considerable pressure to obey the Schießbefehl. Some were simple as just scaling the wall but as the wall became more complex, people became more creative with escapes. Those who let themselves be recruited objectively serve West German Reaction and militarism, whether they know it or not. In 1946, one year after the end of the World War II the Soviet Military administration begun to safeguard the demarcation lines of the Soviet sectors to the West. The area was raked with gravel to easily see the footprints, it had no cover, was booby-trapped with tripwires, and it gave a clear view to the watch guards, who were told to shoot on sight. Construction of the wall was commenced by the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany) on 13 August 1961.The Wall cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany, including East Berlin. He was then hit by friendly fire from another guard and fatally wounded. He broke both of his arms as a result, but was free to perform again. Another group built a hot air balloon from scraps of cloth and flew over the Wall. [3], Attempts to flee across the border were carefully studied and recorded by the East German authorities to identify possible weak points. General Heinz Hoffmann, the GDR Minister of Defence, declared in August 1966 that "anyone who does not respect our border will feel the bullet." [9] Those who helped escapees were also subject to punishment, facing prison terms or deportation to internal exile in faraway towns. Information about your device and internet connection, including your IP address, Browsing and search activity while using Verizon Media websites and apps. When he reached the West German side, Lange found that his rifle had been sabotaged by his NCO to prevent him firing in the first place. Two families made a fearless attempt to escape via hot air balloon. Corghi was a member of the Italian Communist Party, which denounced the killing. And another man faced death by a soldier and barbed wire. After 1989 the memorials were vandalised, neglected and ultimately removed. In 1961, 8,507 people fled across the border, most of them through West Berlin. Escape attempts were severely punished by the East German state. It became something of a shrine with piles of flowers and wreaths deposited by visitors. When the Second World War was finally over, Germany was divided up into four occupation zones among the Allied forces. Ingo had escaped East Berlin in 1974 and Holger in 1983, Ingo fled through fences and minefields before floating across the Elbe river on an air matters and Holger used a zip line he created to get to West Berlin. The East German regime strongly objected and erected a watchtower nearby, from which threats and communist propaganda were broadcast across the border. While the Wall was up, it was estimated that about 5,000 people made it safely across. If the individual was further away or on the Western side of the border fence the guard was authorised to shoot without warning. West Germany bought his freedom four years later and he was released on October 2nd, 1980. Here are 8 of the craziest escape attempts. 1. Stehenbleiben, oder ich schieße!"). His family wrote letters to him telling him to come back, but it was dictated by the Stasi. By the time the Berlin Wall fell, to much celebration, in November 1989 almost 200 people had died around the wall, or along the death strip in Berlin. When his body was buried it was described merely as an "unknown body fished out of the water". However, escapees were never more than a small minority of the total number of emigrants from East Germany. 89 people (39% of escapees) managed to cross both the minefields and the border fence, but just 12 people (6% of the total) succeeded in getting past the SM-70s.[4]. In 1974, Erich Honecker, as Chairman of the National Defense Council of East Germany, ordered: "Firearms are to be ruthlessly used in the event of attempts to break through the border, and the comrades who have successfully used their firearms are to be commended. The episode severely embarrassed the East German government and produced an unusual apology. killed or injured – by landmines and 43 people (0.9%) by SM-70 directional mines on the border fence. This relates to our thesis because many a people have tried to escape, but it usually ended in death, prison, or both. Border guards who attempted to escape were treated much more harshly and were on average imprisoned for five years. Other escape attempts happened through Hungary and Yugoslavia, or across the Baltic Sea. Strict border regulations meant that if your family member died trying to escape across the wall, you weren’t even allowed to attend their funeral. The study highlighted the effectiveness of the SM-70 as a means of stopping people getting across the fence. To help us tell more stories, and to surface more amazing photography, please consider becoming a Timeline member. [15] An unusual mass escape occurred in September 1964 when 14 East Germans, including eleven children, were smuggled across the border in a refrigerated truck.

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