List of deaths at the Berlin Wall

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One of many memorials to those who died at the Berlin Wall Gedenktafel Ebertstr ggu 25 (Tierg) Maueropfer.JPG
One of many memorials to those who died at the Berlin Wall

There were numerous deaths at the Berlin Wall, which stood as a barrier between West Berlin and East Berlin from 13 August 1961 until 9 November 1989. Before the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961, 3.5 million East Germans circumvented Eastern Bloc emigration restrictions, many by crossing over the border from East Berlin into West Berlin. From there they could then travel to West Germany and other Western European countries. Between 1961 and 1989, the Wall prevented almost all such emigration. [1]

Contents

The state-funded Centre for Contemporary History (ZZF) in Potsdam has confirmed that "... at least 140 people were killed at the Berlin Wall or died under circumstances directly connected with the GDR border regime", [2] including people attempting to escape, border guards, and innocent parties. However, researchers at the Checkpoint Charlie Museum have estimated the death toll to be significantly higher. [3]

Unbekannten Fluchtling Memorial, Berlin 1962 Unknown Refugee Memorial- Berlin 1962.jpg
Unbekannten Fluchtling Memorial, Berlin 1962

Escape attempts claimed the lives of many, from a child as young as one to an 80-year-old woman, and many died because of the accidental or illegal actions of the guards. In numerous legal cases throughout the 1990s, several border guards, along with political officials responsible for the defence policies, were found guilty of manslaughter and served probation or were jailed for their role in the Berlin Wall deaths.

Historical background

Wreath laying at the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall in 1986. Officials lay wreaths to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Berlin Wall in August, 1986.jpg
Wreath laying at the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall in 1986.
Wreaths at the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall in 1986. BERLINWALL25TH.jpg
Wreaths at the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall in 1986.

After World War II, Berlin had been divided into four sectors controlled by the Allies: the US, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and France. The sector borders inside the city could in general be used freely for passage out of the German Democratic Republic, even after the border between the Federal Republic of Germany and the GDR had been continually closed off, starting in 1952. The outer border of West Berlin, which was also the border between West-Berlin and the GDR, had also been closed down in 1952. During the night of 12 to 13 August 1961 the National People's Army, the German Border Police, the Volkspolizei and the Combat Groups of the Working Class locked down all passages between the Soviet sector and the three West sectors; construction of border protection facilities began.

During the first years border fortifications inside the city mostly consisted of brick walls with a top made of barbed wire. Clay bricks and concrete slabs were used for construction. Further obstacles of barbed wire and upstate walls delimitated the East and at some places, like Bernauer Straße, bricked-up buildings formed the boundary line. The buildings were situated on East-Berlin territory, whereas the pavement in front of the houses belonged to West-Berlin. In many places safety installations of West-Berlin's outer ring consisted of metal fences and barbed wire barriers. Technologically advanced upgrading took place later on and only in 1975 L-shaped concrete segments that were known from the fall of the Wall were added.

Identifying the death toll

Monument to the Berlin Wall with part of the concrete wall in the background Berlin Wall Monument (East view).jpg
Monument to the Berlin Wall with part of the concrete wall in the background
A section of the Berlin Wall in 1986 Berlinermauer.jpg
A section of the Berlin Wall in 1986

Identifying deaths specifically attributable to the Berlin Wall is not straightforward. Although East Germans were aware of deaths on the Wall from West German media broadcasts which they were able to receive, reliable information was closely held by the East German authorities. A number of different West German institutions kept their own records. These included the West Berlin police, the Central Registry of State Judicial Administration in Salzgitter (which tracked all border fatalities) and the Arbeitsgruppe 13 August (Working Group 13 August), a West Berlin association. Within the jurisdiction of the West-Berlin police, the State Security Department was responsible for the registration of known incidents. The records distinguish between individuals who died at the outer border of West-Berlin (80 incidents), unclear incidents (with 5 possible wall victims) and border guards who were shot. The Central Registry of State Judicial Administrations in Salzgitter, was also given a mandate to collect evidence of actual or attempted murder in the GDR. In 1991, it published the "Salzgitter-Report" with the names of 78 victims. However, since the Registration Agency had no access to the GDR archives, the data was regarded as incomplete. [4] Both agencies mainly listed incidents that could have been observed from West-Berlin or had been reported by fugitives or border patrols who left the GDR.

After the fall of the Wall, criminal investigations into border killings were launched by the Investigating Agency for Governmental and Party Crimes (ZERV) and the Berlin public prosecutor's office. [5] Each of these institutions used different criteria to count deaths. In 2000, the ZERV compared data from the central registration office in Salzgitter with findings in GDR archives and made a total of 122 cases of targeted killing by GDR state organs at the border to West-Berlin. This list was a pre-inquiry for the prosecution departments of Berlin and Neuruppin, which in turn gave attention to legal processing. [6] The Salzgitter registry recorded incidents in which "suspicion of a criminal act was justified", while the Arbeitsgruppe 13 August, which also manages the house at Checkpoint Charlie and is run by the artist Alexandra Hildebrandt, widow of the founder Rainer Hildebrandt, counted "all victims who died in connection with flight and/or the border regime", including deaths by accidents or drowning, or deaths of border soldiers and policemen in suicides or firearms accidents. This gave them the figure of 235 deaths compared to the significantly lower number of 78 according to the Salzgitter registry. [7]

The results, which are described as "temporary" by the working group, are regularly presented at press conferences on 13 August. [8] The list is consistently revised with new cases being included and old ones abandoned. The Checkpoint Charlie Museum gives the number at 245 deaths, though this includes suicides by border guards and bodies found in the water even when there was no obvious link to them being an escapee. They also state that the first person to die at the Wall was in fact an East German officer who committed suicide. [9]

In 2005, the Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer (Centre for Contemporary History and the Berlin Wall Memorial Site and Documentation Centre) established a research project to definitively "establish the number and identities of the individuals who died at the Berlin Wall between 1961 and 1989 and to document their lives and deaths through historical and biographical research". The project was funded by the Federal Agency for Civic Education, Deutschlandradio and the Federal Commissioner of Culture and Media. [10] The results were published on the website www.chronik-der-mauer.de and in a book titled "Todesopfer an der Berliner Mauer" (2009). The project outlines the victims' biographies, the causes of death and the sources that were used. At the time, no reliable or official information was available about the number of fatalities at the Wall. The project found that 136 people had died, [11] [12] using the criteria of "either an attempted escape or a temporal and spatial link between the death and the border regime". Not all had died immediately – one fatality occurred years later – and not all were caused by acts of violence. After reviewing 575 deaths, the project team found that at least 140 people died in shootings, were killed in accidents or committed suicide after failing to cross the Wall. [13]

Criteria

Every investigation committee had its own criteria of which cases could be counted as wall victims. The ZERV investigations focused on a working legal guilt, while the ZZF and the Arbeitsgemeinschaft 13. August developed their own criteria that went beyond purely legal guilt. The ZZF criteria required the victim to have a background for the attempted escape or to have both a temporal and a spatial connection to the border regime. Five groups were developed from the examined cases:

The definition coined by the Arbeitsgruppe 13. August reaches further. It includes border guards that committed suicide and cold cases involving bodies found in boundary waters.

However, a thorough investigation of all natural cases of death has not been completed yet. One third of all files from the police of transport are gone, entire annual reports of the 1970s are missing. Analyzing the daily records of border guards and to examine activities in areas that had been under surveillance might have presented an alternative but could not be realized because of financial issues. [15] Another 16 cases of drowning could not definitively be connected to the Wall. Many other travellers from East and West Germany and Czechoslovakia died immediately before, during or after passing through checkpoints in Berlin, with a published figure of 251 deaths: most were the result of cardiac arrest. [13]

Controversy about the number of casualties

The exact number of casualties is unknown. There are different numbers that each derive from different investigations that used different definitions of what a victim in this case should be. Therefore, the numbers are hardly comparable. On top of that, some results are published infrequently or investigations were ceased with a provisional number. There is also a publicly held controversy between two groups regarding the number of victims. The opponents are the Arbeitsgemeinschaft 13. August and the ZZF. The former's numbers are higher, as they include, according to ZZF's Hans-Hermann Hertle, victims with an unclear or unsure connection to the border regime. After the ZZF published its interim results in August 2006, Alexandra Hildebrandt of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft has accused them of withholding numbers to invoke a more positive picture of East Germany. She argues that the ZZF project was funded by a coalition of social democrats and leftists. [16] In 2008 the Arbeitsgemeinschaft claimed that since 1961 222 people had died because of the Berlin Wall. Hertle doubted these numbers, as they evidently included some survivors. As of 2006, 36 survivors were listed as deceased because of the Wall, and some victims were mentioned more than once. [16] Because of these shortcomings, he assessed the list as an "extensive record of suspected cases" that "failed to set up a scientifically verifiable standard". [5] Berlin's Governing Mayor Klaus Wowereit commented on the dispute with the words "Every single dead was one too many." [17] In 2009, Hildebrandt reported of 245 dead caused by the Wall. According to her research, the first Wall victim was a suicidal GDR officer and not Ida Siekmann, as Hildebrandt also included border guards that committed suicide and cold cases of bodies found in boundary waters in her list. Another difference in Hertle's and Hildebrandt's list can be explained by the fact that Hertle had additional access to incomplete files from transport police. Therefore, their accounts vary in regard to the people that died of natural causes during border controls. Hurtle argues with a total of 251 of such cases, while Hildebrandt only compiled 38 of these cases. [9]

Information on the dead can be found mainly in the administrative and military archives of West and East Germany. However, the records of Stasi, which were administered by the Stasi federal commissioner, are not completely accessible. Some parts, especially from the later years, were destroyed when the ministry was disbanded, some are not yet sifted. Additionally, due to the Stasi records law, many records can only be looked at in the form of anonymized excerpts. An amendment from 2007 allows direct access to research projects, provided certain conditions are met. The East German Border Troop records are kept at the Bundeswehr archive, as the border troops were part of the East German National People Army. According to Hertle, when border troop, Stasi and the records from Western authorities are evaluated, one has to take into account the "values, interests and constraints of the record-keeping authorities and, by extension, of the respective power relations." The families of the victims can be another source, but were often fed with false information and therefore can only seldom answer questions regarding the events themselves.

First and last deaths

When Berlin was a divided city, the Berlin Wall ran along Bernauer Straße. The street itself belonged to the French sector of West Berlin and the East German authorities declared that the windows and doors that led out onto Bernauer Straße should be bricked up. In the early morning of 22 August 1961, Ida Siekmann was the first of 98 people to die while attempting to escape. She was living on the fourth floor of number 48 (third floor, 3te Stock, by German standards), threw bedding and some possessions down onto the street, and jumped out of the window of her apartment. [18] [19] [20] She fell on the sidewalk and was severely injured, dying shortly afterwards on her way to the Lazarus Hospital. [18] [21]

In February 1989, Chris Gueffroy was the last person shot trying to escape East Germany; he was not, however, the last to die escaping. On 8 March 1989, Winfried Freudenberg became the last person to die in an attempt to escape from East Germany to West Berlin. Freudenberg fell from a hot-air balloon while trying to fly over the Berlin Wall. [22] [23]

Causes and periods of deaths

Berlin Wall Berlin Wall.svg
Berlin Wall
East German border guards retrieving the body of Gunter Litfin from the River Spree 2010-03-20-mauer-berlin-by-RalfR-09.jpg
East German border guards retrieving the body of Günter Litfin from the River Spree

The Berlin Wall, like the much longer inner German border between East and West Germany, was designed with two purposes in mind: to obstruct would-be border-crossers and to enable border guards to detect and stop illegal border crossings. In its final form, the 156 km (97 mi) wall consisted of inner and outer concrete walls separated by a "death strip" [13] some 15 m (49 ft) to 150 m (490 ft) wide. It was guarded by around 11,500 Grenztruppen, the Border Troops of the German Democratic Republic who were authorised to use any means necessary, including firearms, to prevent border breaches. The shooting orders, or Schießbefehl , issued to the border guards instructed that people attempting to cross the Wall were criminals, and that the use of deadly force was required to deal with them: "Do not hesitate to use your firearm, not even when the border is breached in the company of women and children, which is a tactic the traitors have often used". [24] Some guards have since claimed that the motto at the time was "a dead refugee is better than an escaped one". [25] At first, wounded or shot refugees were left out in the open until they were removed, so that people from West Berlin and the western press could see them as well. After the reactions to the public death of Peter Fechter, border guards were ordered to move any casualties out of West Berlin's field of view. Negative reporting was sought to be prevented. Because of this, border guards often pulled people down into the car-moat that was part of the whole border security system. In some cases, the removal of the body was done only after nightfall.

The principal cause of death was shooting. Of the 140 fatalities, 99 (70.7%) were shot dead, not only escapees but also individuals on either side who were not attempting to escape, and East German border guards killed on duty. 101 of the fatalities were attempted border-crossers, of which all but three were East Germans (the exceptions were Franciszek Piesik and Czesław Kukuczka, Polish citizens, and Vladimir Ivanovich Odinzov, a Soviet soldier). 68 of them were killed in shootings. Another 30 people died as a result of shootings or fatal accidents sustained while in the vicinity of the Wall but not trying to cross it. Eight East German border soldiers were killed on duty by escapees, escape helpers, fellow soldiers, or the West Berlin police. Three people committed suicide after escape attempts failed. [13]

About half of those who lost their lives on the Wall were killed in the first five years after it was originally installed. Death rates fell from then on, and took a particularly dramatic downturn after 1976. Nearly 86% of the Wall's victims, 120 people, died between 1961 and 1975; between 1976 and 1989 only 19 died. Several factors account for this reduction. The Wall became even more impregnable owing to technical improvements carried out in the mid-1970s and more restrictions were put on the area adjoining the Wall, making it more difficult to reach in the first place. The signing of the Helsinki Accords in 1975 led to new opportunities to cross the border legally, resulting in a rise in emigration applications and a corresponding fall in escape attempts. [13]

Deaths by year

1960s
Year  Number of deaths
1960
0
1961
12
1962
22
1963
10
1964
10
1965
12
1966
12
1967
2
1968
7
1969
3
1970s
Year  Number of deaths
1970
9
1971
4
1972
4
1973
5
1974
4
1975
4
1976
0
1977
2
1978
0
1979
1
1980s
Year  Number of deaths
1980
2
1981
4
1982
1
1983
1
1984
1
1985
0
1986
4
1987
1
1988
0
1989
3

Locations, demographics and motivations of the victims

Map showing the location of the Berlin Wall and the legal crossing points in use from 1963 Berlin-wall-map en.svg
Map showing the location of the Berlin Wall and the legal crossing points in use from 1963

Around two-thirds of the victims were killed in inner Berlin, accounting for 93 of the 140. Berlin-Mitte and Treptow were the inner-city districts with the most fatalities; nearly half of the 64 escapees who died on the sector border lost their lives in those two districts. The remaining third died on the city's outskirts where the suburbs of West Berlin intersected with towns and villages in East Germany. [13] Several victims, including most of the children, drowned in the Spree or the Havel.

Most of those who died (comprising 78% of the fugitive victims) were young men aged between 16 and 30. Married men accounted for 20% of the deaths while only 8 (6%) were women. Nine children younger than 16 years old died, whereas 94 victims were aged between 21 and 30. [14] The overwhelming majority came from East Berlin and the surrounding area. [13]

Their motives for escaping evolved over time. Those who fled in the years shortly after the Wall was built had experienced the formerly open border first-hand and often had relatives in the West or had traveled there. By contrast, later escapees had grown up with the closed border, desired greater freedom and were dissatisfied with conditions in East Germany. Their attempts to escape were often triggered by specific events such as a wish to avoid conscription, repression by the authorities or the refusal of a request to emigrate. Many escapees had previously clashed with the state authorities and had been imprisoned for political offenses, often related to earlier unsuccessful escape attempts. [13]

Deaths by population demographic

Age
RangeNumber of deaths
80+
1
70–79
0
60–69
3
50–59
2
40–49
7
30–39
18
20–29
76
10–19
26
0–9
6
Unknown
1
Sex
 Number of deaths
Male
132
Female   
8

East German responses to deaths

The use of lethal force on the Berlin Wall was an integral part of the East German state's policy towards its border system. Nonetheless, the East German government was well aware that border killings had undesirable consequences. The West German, US, British and French authorities protested killings when they occurred and the international reputation of East Germany was damaged as a result. It also undermined the East German government's support at home. [26]

The Stasi, East Germany's secret police, adopted a policy of concealing killings as much as possible. In the case of the November 1986 shooting of Michael Bittner at the Wall, a Stasi report commented: "The political sensitivity of the state border to Berlin (West) made it necessary to conceal the incident. Rumours about the incident had to be prevented from circulating, with information passing to West Berlin or the FRG [West Germany]." The Stasi took charge of "corpse cases" and those injured while trying to cross the border, who were transported to hospitals run by the Stasi or the police where they would recuperate before being transferred to Stasi prisons. The Stasi also took sole responsibility for the disposal of the dead and their possessions. Bodies were not returned to relatives but were cremated, usually at the crematorium at Baumschulenweg. Occasionally the cost of the cremations was covered by the victims themselves using money taken from their pockets. [26]

Stasi officers posing as policemen would inform the relatives, though not before trying to obtain "valuable pieces of information on the border violation". Deaths would be stated as being due to "a border provocation of his own causing", "a fatal accident of his own causing" or "drowning in a border waterway". Every border death was investigated in detail to identify how the attempt had been made, whether there were any vulnerabilities in the border system that needed to be remedied and whether anyone else had been involved. If necessary, the family, relatives, friends, colleagues and neighbours were put under surveillance. The reports produced following such cases were sent to the relevant member of the East German Politburo for consideration. [26]

East German memorial to border guards killed at the Berlin Wall, August 1986. It was demolished following the fall of the Wall. Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1986-0813-027, Berlin, Pioniere vor einer Gedenkstatte.jpg
East German memorial to border guards killed at the Berlin Wall, August 1986. It was demolished following the fall of the Wall.

The one exception to the general rule of concealment and obfuscation was that of border guards who died on duty. Most were killed either deliberately or accidentally by escapees or escape helpers. The dead guards were hailed by East German government propaganda as heroes, but West German public opinion was divided about the morality of killing border guards. Some took the view that escapees were entitled to use force in the course of crossing the border, but (as in one case tried in a West Berlin court) others saw the guard's life as taking priority over an escapee's freedom. [13]

In those cases they did not manage to conceal, however, the GDR's media was subject to stringent controls by the Stasi as well as the Socialist Unity Party of Germany, using Neues Deutschland , the GDR's second largest daily newspaper, as their zentralorgan . Through its own television station, the GDR government controlled the content shown in television broadcasting as well. The GDR border troops' actions were being portrayed as legitimate border defense and the people who were killed while trying to escape were defamed both in official statements as well as in reports of the state-controlled media. In 1962, East German journalist Karl-Eduard von Schnitzler commented on the death of Peter Fechter in the television program Der schwarze Kanal : "The life of every single one of our brave boys in uniform is worth more than the life of a lawbreaker to us. Staying away from the border, you can save yourself blood, tears and screams." [27] SED newspaper Neues Deutschland claimed Fechter was driven into suicide by "front city bandits" as well as accusing him of being homosexual. [28] [29] In similar fashion, Günter Litfin was falsely depicted as being a homosexual, a prostitute as well as a criminal. In 1966, the Berliner Zeitung depicted Eduard Wroblewski as antisocial and being wanted as a Foreign Legionnaire for serious crimes in the district of Halle. [30] These cases were exemplary of representatives of the press constructing false allegations in order to defame killed escapees.

West German responses to deaths

In cases of death, the Abgeordnetenhaus of Berlin and Mayor issued statements of indignation concerning the deceased, the Wall and the situation in the GDR. In some cases, the Senate of Western Berlin asked the respective American, British or French authorities to lodge a protest at the Soviet site. Up until the late sixties, terms like Wall of Shame (German: "Schandmauer" or "Mauer der Schande") were used by politicians from Western Berlin to denominate the wall. [31] Speaking to the press, representatives also used misrepresented incidents as examples and depicted GDR state organs as responsible. After Rudolf Müller had shot the border guard Reinhold Huhn and fled west through a self-made tunnel, Egon Bahr, speaker of the Senate at that time, announced he had only thrown him an "uppercut". [32] The western press also adopted this misstatement and used the heading "trigger-happy Vopos (colloquial German term for "Volkspolizei", the East German People's Police) killed own post." [32] In other cases, the press published stories using drastic language to accuse the Wall as well as the people in charge. After Günter Litfins' death, the "B.Z."-tabloid wrote: "Ulbricht's manhunters became murderers!" The Frankfurter Allgemeine commented on the "brutal cold-bloodedness" of the guards. [33]

The cases that were known in West Berlin provoked demonstrations among the population. Members of the Senate inspected the crime scenes and spoke to the press as well as public audiences. Various groups, and also individuals, launched protest campaigns against the Wall and the shootings. The fact that Peter Fechter bled to death in plain view of the public without anybody being able to help him led to spontaneous mass demonstrations, which in turn resulted in riots in the following night. West Berlin policemen and US soldiers prevented a storming of the Berlin Wall. [34] Buses bringing Soviet soldiers to the Tiergarten where they were to guard the Soviet War Memorial were pelted with stones by protesters. [35] The incident also led to anti-American protests, which were condemned by Willy Brandt. [36] In the ensuing time, loudspeaker cars were sporadically set up at the Berlin Wall, urging the GDR border guards not to shoot at refugees and warning them of possible consequences. [34] As a result of the shootings, West German groups lodged complaints with the UN Commission on Human Rights. The non-partisan Kuratorium Unteilbares Deutschland (Committee for an Indivisible Germany) sold protest placards and lapel pins in all of West Germany against the border regime and its consequences. Initially, West Berlin's regulatory authorities gave fugitives covering fire if they were being fired at by GDR border guards. This resulted in at least one lethal incident on 23 May 1962, when the border guard Peter Göring was shot dead by a West Berlin policeman while firing 44 times at a fleeing boy. [37]

In 1991 Berlin's public prosecution department rendered this incident assistance in emergency and self-defence in consequence of the police officer stating that he felt his life being threatened. [30] In many cases West Berliner rescuers were not able to reach wounded persons because they were either on GDR territory or in East Berlin. They had no authorization to set foot into this territory, so that a trespassing would have been life-endangering for the rescue workers. The four children Çetin Mert, Cengaver Katrancı, Siegfried Kroboth and Giuseppe Savoca, who fell into the Spree at the Gröben riverside between the years 1972 and 1975, could not be rescued even though West Berlin rescue forces arrived quickly on site. [38] In April 1983 the transit passenger Rudolf Burkert died of a heart attack during an interrogation at the border checkpoint Derwitz. During a subsequent autopsy in West Germany several external injuries were detected, so that an external forceful impact could not be ruled out as the cause of death. This lethal incident resulted not only in negative press reports but also led to an intervention by Helmut Kohl and Franz Josef Strauss. For the imminent public-sector loans they imposed on the GDR the condition to conduct humane border controls. Two further deaths of West Germans in transit traffic, shortly after Burkert's death, set off demonstrations against the GDR regime and a broad media discussion. [39] In the period that followed inspections decreased in transit traffic.

Western Allies' responses to deaths

After cases of death became public, the Western Allies lodged a protest at the Soviet government. [40] In many known cases, the Western Allies did not react to requests for help. In the case of Peter Fechter, local US soldiers stated that they were not allowed to cross the border and enter East Berlin, although this was permitted to Allied military personnel when uniforms are worn. Major General Albert Watson, Town Major at that time, thus contacted his superiors in the White House, without receiving clear orders. Watson said: "This is a case for which I don't have any imperatives." [41] President Kennedy was concerned over this issue and dispatched Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy to the Town Major to call for preventative measures against such incidents. Bundy, who already resided in Berlin for a pre-scheduled visit in 1962, informed Willy Brandt about the President's intention to back him up on this issue. [36] He however clarified to Brandt and Adenauer, that US support ends at the wall, as there will be no efforts to dislodge it. [42] Ten days after Fechter's death, Konrad Adenauer contacted the French President Charles de Gaulle, to send a letter to Nikita Khrushchev through him. De Gaulle offered his cooperation. [40] Under the involvement of Willy Brandt, the four City Commanders reached an agreement concerning military ambulances from the western allies, which were now allowed to pick up injured persons from the border zone, to bring them to hospitals in East Berlin. [36]

Many of those involved in the killings at the Berlin Wall were investigated in a number of legal proceedings. Trials investigated border guards and senior political officials for their responsibility for the killings, some of which were believed to be unlawful.

Members of the National Defence Council, the political group responsible for the policies regarding the Berlin Wall, and the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) were brought to court in the 1990s. In 1997 Egon Krenz, who had in 1989 become the last Communist leader of East Germany, was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison for the manslaughter of four Germans who were shot while attempting to cross the Berlin Wall. Other men to be given jail sentences include the Defence Minister at the time, Heinz Kessler, his deputy Fritz Streletz, Günter Schabowski and Günther Kleiber. [43]

In November 2009 an interview with Kessler showed that he believed the Wall should never have been removed:

I deplore the fact that East Germans were shot while trying to flee westward, but the Berlin Wall served a useful purpose. It contributed to a polarisation between the two blocs, but it also gave a certain stability to their relationship. While the Wall was standing, there was peace. Today there's hardly a place that isn't in flames. Were you ever in East Germany? It was a wonderful country! [44]

Two other key members of the National Defence Council, chairman Erich Honecker and Stasi leader Erich Mielke, were also investigated. However, during the trial both men were seriously ill and the court controversially decided to drop the cases. [43] Honecker died in 1994 and Mielke, who had served some time in jail for the 1931 murder of two police captains, died in 2000.

Many guards were themselves investigated for their actions, with the final case closing on 12 February 2004. In some of the cases there was insufficient evidence to identify which guard had fired the fatal shot and thus no prosecution could be made. Others were sentenced to probation for their role in the shootings. [25] Only the guard who shot Walter Kittel was charged for manslaughter and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Numerous guards were the same ones who had been awarded a Medal for Exemplary Border Service or other award for the killing. [45] [46] [47] [48]

Deaths

Memorial to Ida Siekmann Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F013004-0001, Berlin, Staatsbesuch Prasident von Zypern.jpg
Memorial to Ida Siekmann
Memorial to Gunter Litfin Gedenkstein Guenter Litfin.jpg
Memorial to Günter Litfin
Memorial to Olga Segler Gedenktafel Olga Segler.jpg
Memorial to Olga Segler
Memorial to Bernd Lunser Gedenktafel Bernd Lunser.jpg
Memorial to Bernd Lünser
Memorial to Dieter Wohlfahrt Mauertotendenkmal Dieter Wohlfahrt in Staaken Tafel.jpg
Memorial to Dieter Wohlfahrt
Newspaper story about Peter Goring 2010-03-20-mauer-berlin-by-RalfR-08.jpg
Newspaper story about Peter Göring
Peter Fechter Peter Fechter.jpg
Peter Fechter
Egon Schultz Bundesarchiv Bild 183-C1005-0010-001, DDR-Grenzsoldat Egon Schultz.jpg
Egon Schultz
Memorial to Heinz Sokolowski Berliner Mauer, Gedenkkreuze Ebertstrasse 05.jpg
Memorial to Heinz Sokolowski
Memorial to Willi Marzahn Gedenktafel Konigsweg 326 (Wann) Willi Marzahn.jpg
Memorial to Willi Marzahn
Memorial to Karl-Heinz Kube Gedenktafel Berlepschstr (Zehl) Karl-Heinz Kube.jpg
Memorial to Karl-Heinz Kube
Rolf Henniger Bundesarchiv Bild 183-G1121-0028-001, Getoteter Grenzsoldat Rolf Henninger.jpg
Rolf Henniger
Memorial to Buckhard Niering Berlin Wall victims monument.jpg
Memorial to Buckhard Niering
Dietmar Schwietzer Dietmar Schwietzer.jpg
Dietmar Schwietzer
Memorial to Chris Gueffroy Chris Gueffroy.jpg
Memorial to Chris Gueffroy

The Centre for Contemporary History and the Berlin Wall Memorial Site and Documentation Centre identified 136 people who died at the Berlin Wall. They detailed the event surrounding each death, stating where possible the role of the person. This is listed here as:

Note: Some deaths occurred days or even years after the event at the Berlin Wall, with the victims later dying in hospital.

No.NameDate of birthDate of deathAgeRoleEvent details
1 Ida Siekmann
[18] [19] [20] [21]
23 August 190222 August 196158EscapeeDied from internal injuries after jumping out of the window of her apartment at Bernauer Straße 48.
2 Günter Litfin
[49]
19 January 193724 August 196124EscapeeShot in Humboldt Harbour
3Roland Hoff
[50]
19 March 193429 August 196127EscapeeShot in the Teltow Canal
4 Rudolf Urban
[51]
6 June 191417 September 196147EscapeeFell while climbing out of the window of his apartment at Bernauer Straße 1; died of pneumonia in the Lazarus hospital a
5 Olga Segler
[52]
31 July 188126 September 196180EscapeeJumped from her home at Bernauer Straße 34 and died a day later from internal injuries
6Bernd Lünser
[53]
11 March 19394 October 196122EscapeeFell from the roof at Bernauer Straße 44 while fighting with GDR border patrol
7Udo Düllick
[54]
8 March 19365 October 196125EscapeeDrowned in the Spree
8Werner Probst
[55]
18 June 193614 October 196125EscapeeShot in the Spree
9Lothar Lehmann
[56]
28 January 194226 November 196119EscapeeDrowned in the Havel
10Dieter Wohlfahrt
[57]
27 May 19419 December 196120EscapeeShot while helping others escape
11Ingo Krüger
[58]
31 January 194010 December 196121EscapeeDrowned in the Spree – defective diving equipment
12Georg Feldhahn
[59]
12 August 194119 December 196120No intentionDrowned in the Spree after desertion; body found on 11 March 1962
13 Dorit Schmiel
[60]
25 April 194119 February 196220EscapeeShot at Wilhelmsruher Damm at the sector border between Berlin-Pankow and Berlin-Reinickendorf
14Heinz Jercha
[61]
1 July 193727 March 196224Helper of escapeesShot at Heidelberger Strasse 75 at the sector border between Berlin-Treptow and Berlin-Neukölln
15Philipp Held
[62]
2 May 1942April 196219EscapeeDrowned in the Spree on or after 8 April; body found on 22 April
16 Klaus Brueske
[63]
14 September 193818 April 196223EscapeeSuffocated b
17Peter Böhme
[64]
17 August 194218 April 196219EscapeeShot in a firefight
18Jörgen Schmidtchen
[65]
28 June 194118 April 196220GuardShot by escapee Peter Bohme at Gleisdreieck Griebnitzsee on the outer ring between Potsdam-Babelsberg and Berlin-Zehlendorf
19Horst Frank
[66]
7 May 194229 April 196219EscapeeShot at the "Schönholz" garden settlement at the sector border between Berlin-Pankow and Berlin-Reinickendorf
20Peter Göring
[13] [67]
28 December 194023 May 196221GuardShot; stray bullet from West Berlin police
21Lutz Haberlandt
[68]
29 April 193827 May 196224EscapeeShot while attempting to escape at the sector border south of the Sandkrug Bridge, near the Charité on Alexander's shore
22Axel Hannemann
[69]
27 April 19455 June 196217EscapeeShot in the Spree
23 Erna Kelm
[70]
21 July 190811 June 196253EscapeeDrowned in the Havel
24Wolfgang Glöde
[71]
1 February 194911 June 196213No intentionShot accidentally by a guard showing him his AK-47
25Reinhold Huhn
[72]
8 March 194218 June 196220GuardShot by escapees
26Siegfried Noffke
[73]
9 December 193928 June 196222EscapeeShot as an escape helper at the sector border between the districts Mitte and Kreuzberg at Heinrich-Heine-Straße 49, after the local escape tunnel had been betrayed; died on the way to the East Berlin hospital
27 Peter Fechter
[74]
14 January 194417 August 196218EscapeeShot while attempting to escape in Berlin-Mitte, Zimmerstraße; bled in the death strip before a large West Berlin crowd
28Hans-Dieter Wesa
[75]
10 January 194323 August 196219EscapeeShot at the sector border in Gesundbrunnen at S-Bahn station Bornholmer Straße, while trying to escape; shot from close range when lying on the ground
29Ernst Mundt
[76]
2 December 19214 September 196240EscapeeShot while attempting to escape at the sector border at Sophienfriedhof, Bernauer Ecke Bergstraße
30Günter Seling
[77]
28 April 194030 September 196222GuardBorder guardsman killed on-duty; shot dead by a comrade on the southwestern outer ring, either because of an accidental firing of his weapon or because Seling was misidentified as a GDR refugee
31Anton Walzer
[78]
27 April 19028 October 196260EscapeeShot while trying to escape at the sector border in the Spree near the Oberbaumbrücke
32Horst Plischke
[79]
12 July 193219 November 196230EscapeeDrowned in the Spree; body found on 10 March 1963
33Otfried Reck
[80]
14 December 194427 November 196217EscapeeShot while fleeing border soldiers, who were pursuing him and his friend Gerd P. following their failed escape attempt; died three hours later in hospital
34Günter Wiedenhöft
[81]
14 February 19425 December 196220EscapeeDrowned
35Hans Räwel
[82]
11 December 19421 January 196320EscapeeShot in the Spree
36 Horst Kutscher
[83]
5 July 193115 January 196331EscapeeShot
37Peter Kreitlow
[84]
15 January 194324 January 196320EscapeeShot by Soviet troops
38Wolf-Olaf Muszynski
[85]
1 February 1947February 1963/ March 196316EscapeeDrowned in the Spree
39Peter Mädler
[48]
10 July 194326 April 196319EscapeeShot in the Teltow Canal
40Siegfried Widera
[86]
12 February 19418 September 196322GuardBludgeoned with a metal rod on 23 August 1963
41Klaus Schröter
[87]
21 February 19404 November 196323EscapeeDrowned in the Spree after being shot
42Dietmar Schulz
[88]
21 October 193925 November 196324EscapeeHit by a train
43Dieter Berger
[89]
27 October 193913 December 196324No intentionShot while drunkenly climbing the fence
44Paul Schultz
[90]
2 October 194525 December 196318EscapeeShot
45Walter Hayn
[91]
31 January 193927 February 196425EscapeeShot
46Adolf Philipp
[92]
13 August 19435 May 196420No intentionShot after threatening the border guards with a gun
47Walter Heike
[93]
20 September 193422 June 196429EscapeeShot
48Norbert Wolscht
[94]
27 October 194328 July 196420EscapeeDrowned in the Havel
49Rainer Gneiser
[95]
10 November 194428 July 196419EscapeeDrowned in the Havel
50 Hildegard Trabant
[96]
12 June 192718 August 196437EscapeeShot while running away from the wall after a failed escape attempt
51Wernhard Mispelhorn
[97]
10 November 194520 August 196418EscapeeShot on 18 August 1964
52 Egon Schultz
[98]
4 January 19435 October 196421GuardShot accidentally in a firefight
53Hans-Joachim Wolf
[99]
8 August 194426 November 196420EscapeeShot
54Joachim Mehr
[100]
3 April 19453 December 196419EscapeeShot
55Unidentified man
[101]
Unknown19 January 1965UnknownEscapeeDrowned in the Spree
56Christian Buttkus
[102]
21 February 19444 March 196521EscapeeShot
57Ulrich Krzemien
[103]
13 September 194025 March 196524West-East-CrossingEscaped 1962, drowned in the Spree while crossing to East Berlin
58Hans-Peter Hauptmann
[104]
20 March 19393 May 196526No intentionShot on 25 April 1965 during an argument with border guards
59Hermann Döbler
[105]
28 October 192215 June 196542No intentionShot after unintentionally piloting his boat too close to the border along the Teltow Canal
60Klaus Kratzel
[106]
3 March 19408 August 196525EscapeeHit by a train
61Klaus Garten
[107]
19 July 194118 August 196524EscapeeShot
62Walter Kittel
[108]
21 May 194218 October 196523EscapeeShot after surrendering c
63Heinz Cyrus
[109]
5 June 193611 November 196529EscapeeFell from the fourth floor of a building he had fled to
64 Heinz Sokolowski
[110]
17 December 191725 November 196547EscapeeShot
65Erich Kühn
[111]
27 February 19033 December 196562Escapee Peritonitis after being shot
66Heinz Schöneberger
[112]
7 June 193826 December 196527EscapeeShot
67Dieter Brandes
[113]
23 October 194611 January 196619EscapeeCirculatory failure after being shot on 9 June 1965
68Willi Block
[114]
5 June 19347 February 196631EscapeeShot
69Lothar Schleusener
[115]
14 January 195314 March 196613EscapeeShot
70Jörg Hartmann
[116]
27 October 195514 March 196610EscapeeShot
71Willi Marzahn
[117]
3 June 194419 March 196621EscapeeShot in a firefight at the boundary around Kohlhasenbrück/Steinstücken.
72Eberhard Schulz
[118]
11 March 194630 March 196620EscapeeShot between Kleinmachnow and Königs Wusterhausen while attempting to escape; friend and co-refugee Dieter K. was arrested
73Michael Kollender d
[46]
19 February 194525 April 196621EscapeeShot by the NVA soldiers after desertion attempt at the sector border in Johannisthal at the Teltowkanal; the shooters were acquitted by the reunified Germany, because desertion was a crime under the East German military law
74Paul Stretz
[119]
28 February 193529 April 196631No intentionShot while bathing in the Berlin-Spandau Ship Canal; had been drinking earlier in the evening
75Eduard Wroblewski
[120]
3 March 193326 July 196633EscapeeShot while trying to escape (under influence of alcohol) at the outer ring in Mahlow on the border to Lichtenrade near the former S-Bahn dam; he had managed to escape for the first time in 1952, but after nine months returned to the GDR
76Heinz Schmidt
[47]
26 October 191929 August 196646No intentionShot while bathing in the Berlin-Spandau Ship Canal
77Andreas Senk
[121]
196013 September 19666No intentionDrowned in the Spree e
78Karl-Heinz Kube
[122]
10 April 194916 December 196617EscapeeShot while trying to escape in Kleinmachnow near the Teltower harbor; the co-refugee was arrested
79Max Sahmland
[123]
28 March 192927 January 196737EscapeeShot; body discovered on 8 March 1967 after the boundary in Teltowkanal at Berlin-Rudow, which is located near to Kanalstraße in Höhe der Firma Eternit.
80Franciszek Piesik
[124]
23 November 194217 October 196724Escapee (Polish citizen)Drowned
81Elke Weckeiser
[125]
31 October 194518 February 196822EscapeeShot on 18 February 1968 at Reichstag
82Dieter Weckeiser
[125]
15 February 194319 February 196825EscapeeShot on 18 February 1968 while attempting to escape with Elke Weckeiser on the sector border opposite the Reichstag building near the Kronprinzenbrücke; died on 19 February 1968; had voluntarily entered the GDR with his first wife in 1962
83Herbert Mende
[126]
9 February 193910 March 196829No intentionShot on 7 July 1962 by the Potsdam Police near is the Glienicke Bridge f ; died 10 March 1968 from injuries sustained during shooting
84Bernd Lehmann
[127]
31 July 194928 May 196818EscapeeDrowned in the Spree
85Siegfried Krug
[128]
22 July 19396 July 196828No intentionLived in West Germany and gained legal entry to East Berlin; shot while marching into the border zone and refusing to stop
86Horst Körner
[129]
12 July 194715 November 196821EscapeeShot at Klein-Glienicke/Schlosspark Babelsberg
87Rolf Henniger
[130]
30 November 194115 November 196826GuardShot by escapee Horst Körner at Klein-Glienicke/Schlosspark Babelsberg
88Johannes Lange
[131]
17 December 19409 April 196928EscapeeShot near Adalbertstraße/Leuschnerdamm
89Klaus-Jürgen Kluge
[132]
25 July 194813 September 196921EscapeeShot near Helmut-Just-Brücke
90Leo Lis
[133]
10 May 192420 September 196945EscapeeShot near Nordbahnhof
91Eckhard Wehage
[134]
8 July 194810 March 197021EscapeeCommitted suicide after a failed attempt to flee the hijacking of an Interflug aircraft from East to West Berlin with his wife. g
92Christel Wehage
[134]
15 December 194610 March 197023EscapeeCommitted suicide after a failed attempt to flee the hijacking of an Interflug aircraft from East to West Berlin with her husband. g
93Heinz Müller
[135]
16 May 194319 June 197027No intentionWest German shot after having been arrested for unknown reasons from the West German side of the barrier at the sector border in Berlin-Friedrichshain near the Schilling Bridge
94Willi Born
[136]
19 July 19507 July 197019EscapeeSuicide during failed escape attempt after he was found by border guards
95Friedhelm Ehrlich
[137]
11 July 19502 August 197020No intentionA drunk Ehrlich entered the sector border area near the Leipziger Straße / Staerkstrasse at the outer ring in Glienicke / Nordbahn (circle Oranienburg) and whistled loudly. He was detained by guards and forced to lie face down in street. Ehrlich is then reported to have sat up and stretched his hand toward his hip pocket as though reaching for a weapon. He was shot by soldier; the bullet hit the main artery in Ehrlich's left thigh.

First aid was not provided; Ehrlich died at the People's Police Hospital from exsanguination; Flight intent unclear

96Gerald Thiem
[138]
6 September 19287 August 197041UnclearFor reasons unknown, he attempted to cross from West Berlin to East Berlin; was shot on the sector border between Neukölln and Treptow, Kiefholzstraße / Höhe Puderstraße, and died on the way to the East Berlin hospital
97Helmut Kliem
[139]
2 June 193913 November 197031No intentionAccidentally approached the entrance to the border grounds on the outer ring in Falkensee, district Falkenhöh, near Pestalozzistraße; and was shot while retreating on his motorcycle; his passenger (also his brother) was injured but not charged with illegal border crossing
98Zock Hans-Joachim
[140]
26 January 1940November 197030EscapeeDrowned between 14 and 17 November 1970 in the Spree
99 Christian-Peter Friese
[141]
5 August 194825 December 197022EscapeeShot while trying to escape at the sector border in Treptow, in the area Köllnische Heide / Dammweg
100Rolf-Dieter Kabelitz
[142]
23 June 195130 January 197119EscapeeDiscovered upon entering the border area on the outer ring between Bergfelde (circle Oranienburg) and Reinickendorf on 7 January and pursued by soldiers; shot in pelvis and thigh; was transported to hospital, but began to suffer from a spreading internal infection with bouts of fever and delirium; died on 30 January from pneumonia; Intentional escape likely, but contested in interrogations at the hospital.
101Wolfgang Hoffmann
[143]
1 September 194215 July 197128West-east-crossingEscaped 1961; arrested at a border crossing point while asking for legal entry to East Berlin, where he then jumped out of a police station window
102Werner Kühl
[144]
10 January 194924 July 197122West-east-crossingWhile attempting to secretly cross the border from West Berlin to East Berlin with a friend — presumably for the purpose of settling in the GDR — shot dead at the sector border in Treptow near the bridge Britzer Allee / Baumschulenweg; Friend was captured in the East and expelled to the West on 30 August
103Dieter Beilig
[145]
5 September 19412 October 197130West-east-crossingShot while trying to escape through a window after being arrested at Berlin-Mitte, in Brandenburg Gate.
104Horst Kullack
[146]
20 November 194821 January 197223EscapeeShot on 1 January 1972 at Lichtenrade
105Manfred Weylandt
[147]
12 July 194214 February 197229EscapeeDrowned in the Spree after being shot
106Klaus Schulze
[148]
13 October 19527 March 197219EscapeeShot at Pestalozzistraße in Falkensee
107 Cengaver Katrancı
[149]
196430 October 19728No intentionDrowned in the Spree e
108Holger H.
[150]
197122 January 19731EscapeeSuffocation h
109Volker Frommann
[151]
23 April 19445 March 197329EscapeeJumped from a train on 1 March 1973
110Horst Einsiedel
[152]
8 February 194015 March 197333EscapeeShot in the boundary area of Pankow
111Manfred Gertzki
[153]
17 May 194227 April 197330EscapeeShot/drowned in the Spree
112Siegfried Kroboth
[154]
196814 May 19735No intentionDrowned in the Spree e
113Burkhard Niering
[155]
1 September 19505 January 197423EscapeeShot while trying to cross Checkpoint Charlie with a hostage
114 Czesław Kukuczka
[156]
23 July 193529 March 197439Escapee (Polish citizen)Shot while attempting to flee East Berlin via the Friedrichstrasse train station.
115Johannes Sprenger
[157]
3 December 190510 May 197468Suicide i Shot while entering the sector border area in Berlin-Altglienicke, near Hornkleepfad, between Treptow and Neukölln. The intention to flee is unlikely, as the retiree was allowed to tour West Germany legally and had already done so twice. He had health problems due to lung cancer (but he was not aware of the exact diagnosis). Because of this and his farewell words to his wife, the GDR and, after reunification also the Berlin district court during the "Mauerschützenprozesse", assumed suicide.
116Giuseppe Savoca
[158]
22 April 196815 June 19746No intentionDrowned in the Spree at Kreuzberg, West Berlin e
117Herbert Halli
[159]
24 November 19533 April 197521EscapeeShot at the boundary border of Berlin-Mitte, Zimmer/Otto-Grotewohl-Straße.
118Çetin Mert
[160]
11 May 197011 May 19755No intentionDrowned in the Spree at Kreuzberg, West Berlin e
119Herbert Kiebler
[161]
24 March 195227 June 197523EscapeeShot in Außenring in Mahlow, around the boundary of Lichtenrade, western part of the Fernstraße 96.
120Lothar Hennig
[162]
30 June 19545 November 197521No intentionShot near to the border while running home
121Dietmar Schwietzer
[163]
21 February 195816 February 197718EscapeeShot in Schönwalde, Berliner Allee
122Henri Weise
[164]
13 July 1954May 197722EscapeeDrowned in the Spree; body found on 27 July 1977
123Vladimir Odinzov
[165]
19602 February 197918Escapee (Soviet soldier)Shot on the village road in Seeburg at the outer ring between Seeburg (Kreis Potsdam) and Berlin-Spandau
124Ulrich Steinhauer
[166]
13 March 19564 November 198024GuardShot by a deserting colleague at Schönwalde/Kreis Nauen
125 Marienetta Jirkowsky
[167]
25 August 196222 November 198018EscapeeShot in Hohen Neuendorf, near the Invalidensiedlung/Florastraße; Two co-refugees managed to escape
126Grohganz Peter
[168]
25 September 194810 December 1980/ 9 February 198133EscapeeShot in Premnitz
127Johannes Muschol
[169]
31 May 194916 March 198131West-east-crossingMentally disturbed, shot while crossing the wall from West Berlin to East Berlin
128Hans-Jürgen Starrost
[170]
24 June 195416 April 198126EscapeeShot in Teltow-Sigridshorst
129Thomas Taubmann
[171]
22 July 195512 December 198126EscapeeTried to escape by train; jumped from train and crashed against wall, after which he was likely run over by the train
130Lothar Fritz Freie
[172]
8 February 19556 June 198227No intentionComing from West Berlin, shot while nightly wandering around in a confusing terrain at the border
131Silvio Proksch
[173]
3 March 196225 December 198321EscapeeShot at the sector border in Pankow am Bürgerpark near the Leonhard-Frank-Strasse during a spontaneous escape attempt under considerable influence of alcohol
132Michael Schmidt
[174]
20 October 19641 December 198420EscapeeShot in Pankow/Wollankstraße
133Rainer Liebeke
[175]
11 September 19513 September 198634EscapeeDrowned in the Sacrower See
134Manfred Mäder
[176]
23 August 194821 November 198638EscapeeShot alongside René Groß in Treptow
135René Groß
[177]
1 May 196421 November 198622EscapeeShot alongside Manfred Mäder in Treptow
136Michael Bittner
[178]
31 August 196124 November 198625EscapeeShot in Glienicke/Nordbahn
137Lutz Schmidt
[179]
8 July 196212 February 198724EscapeeShot in Treptow
138Ingolf Diederichs
[180]
13 April 196413 January 198924EscapeeJumped from a train at Bösebrücke/Grenzübergangsstelle Bornholmer Straße
139 Chris Gueffroy
[23] [181]
21 June 19685 February 198920EscapeeShot in Britz
140 Winfried Freudenberg
[22] [23]
29 August 19568 March 198932EscapeeBalloon crash

Commemoration

There has been commemoration of the victims both before and after the German reunification. There are various memorial sites and memorial services. There are also streets and squares that have been named after the dead.

Memorial sites

Remains of the Wall, part of the Berlin Wall Memorial, on the corner between Bernauerstrasse and Bergstrasse, seen from the east (2015). The grass covers what used to be the "death strip". The rusted monument in the centre of the picture displays the names and photographs of the victims. The grey building in the background is also part of the memorial site. Mur de Berlin Bergstrasse 2015.JPG
Remains of the Wall, part of the Berlin Wall Memorial, on the corner between Bernauerstraße and Bergstraße, seen from the east (2015). The grass covers what used to be the "death strip". The rusted monument in the centre of the picture displays the names and photographs of the victims. The grey building in the background is also part of the memorial site.

In remembrance of the victims there have been erected numerous memorial sites, funded by private initiatives and public bodies on the orders of the Berlin boroughs, the Berlin House of Representatives or the federal government, which are placed over various places in Berlin. The oldest date back to the days when the Wall was still standing. They include monuments, crucifixes and memorial stones, and were visited by foreign politicians during state visits. Together with the border installations, there were also some memorial sites that were removed when the Wall fell. Sites for fallen border guards were especially affected by this. Until the tenth anniversary of the building of the Wall, for every victim the private Berliner Bürger-Verein ("Berlin Citizen Association") placed a white wooden cross at the scene of the event. They were aided in their effort by the senate of West-Berlin. On 13 August 1971, the memorial site Weiße Kreuze ("White Crosses") was inaugurated on the east side of the Reichstag building.

On a fence in front of the wall, there were memorial crosses with the names and date of death on them. [182] However, since the government moved to Berlin, the white crosses had to be relocated in 1995 from the eastern side of the Reichstag. The new location is on the west side of the building at a fence of the Tiergarten. 2003, Wolfgang Thierse inaugurated a new memorial designed by Jan Wehberg with the same name as the one on Reichstagufer. On seven both-sided inscribed crosses are the names of the 13 deaths. Another memorial of the Civil Association was in Bernauer Straße. [183] Other victims are remembered through commemorative plates embedded in sidewalks and other installations which are nearby their death spot. In October 2004, the Working Group 13 August built the Freedom Memorial at Checkpoint Charlie. It reminds people of the victims of the Berlin Wall and the inner German border with 1067 crosses. The memorial had to be removed after about half a year because the landowners terminated the lease with the working group. [184]

With the help of other artists, performance artist Ben Wagin founded The Parliament of Trees in the former death strip on the east side of the Spree River, opposite the Reichstag. 258 names of victims of the Wall are listed on granite slabs. Some listed as "unknown man" or "unknown woman" are merely identified with a date of death. The collection, which was created in 1990, contains people who were later not considered to be victims of the Wall. Black and white painted segments of the Wall stand in the background. The memorial needed to be minimized for the construction of the Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus. In 2005, a further memorial was opened in the basement of the Bundestag building. They used wall segments of the former Parliament of Trees. In 1998, the Republic of Germany and the state of Berlin established the Berlin Wall Memorial on Bernauer Straße and declared it as a national memorial. The memorial harks back to a draft drawn up by the architects Kohlhoff & Kohlhoff. Later, it was extended and today it includes the Berlin Wall Documentation Center, a visiting center, the Chapel of Reconciliation, the Window of Remembrance with portraits of those who lost their lives on the grounds of the Berlin Wall, and a 60-meter-long section of the former border installations which is enclosed by steel walls at both ends. The northern wall bears the inscription:"In memory of the city's division from 13. August 1961 to 9. November 1989 and in commemoration of the victims of the communist reign of violence". In remembrance of the Building of the Berlin Wall's 50th anniversary the foundation "Berliner Mauer" erected 29 steles, which commemorate the victims, along the former border between West Germany and the GDR. Apart from the 3,6 meters large, orange pillars, several signs inform about the wall victims. A planned stele for Lothar Hennig in Sacrow was not built for the time being, because Henning is viewed skeptically as a result of his actions for the MfS as a former IM. [185]

Commemoration services

Several organizations – for a large part associations or private initiatives – have been carrying out annual commemoration services in Berlin ever since the first casualties occurred. These services are usually held on the anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall; they were partially supported by West Berlin's district offices or by the senate minutes. As a result of this, the "Hour of Silence" was introduced for silent prayers on every 13 August between 20 and 21 o'clock. Ever since 13 August 1990, the Federal State of Berlin commemorates the deaths. This ceremony takes place every year at the "Peter-Fechter-Kreuz" in the Zimmerstraße near Checkpoint Charlie. [186] Besides these, there are also many commemoration services and protests against the Berlin Wall at other locations in Germany and abroad on 13 August. [187] An annual commemoration service of the fall of the Berlin Wall takes place on 9 November each year at Eureka College in Illinois, United States, the alma mater of President Ronald Reagan. [188]

Footnotes

^a Rudolf Urban and his wife both tried to climb out from a window at their home of Bernauer Straße 1 on 19 August 1961 while trying to escape but fell to the ground and were injured. They both went to hospital with their injuries.
^b Tried to break through the border crossing in a truck filled with sand and gravel; he was shot several times and suffocated in the sand that entered the cab after the truck crashed.
^c Had surrendered when he was shot; the border guard responsible was found guilty of murder in 1992.
^d National People's Army soldier who had deserted
e ^1 ^2 ^3 ^4 ^5 In these five cases the guards were accused of obstructing the rescue of those who were drowning.
^f After an evening of dancing on 7 July 1962 Mende was escorted to a guard house for not having sufficient identification. Believing the matter over, he ran towards the bus home and was shot. He died nearly six years later.
g ^1 ^2 Married couple Eckhardt and Christel committed suicide after a failed plane hijacking.
^h Was hiding with his parents in the crates in the back of a truck crossing the border when he began to cry. His mother held his mouth and he died of suffocation.
^i Ruled as a suicide by a court in Berlin, Sprenger was shot as he approached a watchtower. He had been diagnosed with lung cancer and had told his wife that he would return in a coffin.

See also

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Wolfgang Engels is a former civilian employee of the East German National People's Army, employed as a car mechanic and driver, who in 1963 used a stolen BTR-152 armoured personnel carrier to escape to West Germany by breaking through the Berlin Wall.

Ida Siekmann

Ida Siekmann was a German nurse who became the first known person to die at the Berlin Wall, only nine days after the beginning of its construction.

Heinz Sokolowski East German political prisoner

Heinz Sokolowski was a German man who became the sixty-fourth known person to die at the Berlin Wall. Sokolowski, a former political prisoner, was shot and killed by East German border troops while attempting to cross the Berlin Wall near to the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag building.

Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer Berlin Wall Memorial built in 1998

The Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer commemorates the division of Berlin by the Berlin Wall and the deaths that occurred there. The monument was created in 1998 by the Federal Republic of Germany and the Federal State of Berlin. It is located on Bernauer Straße at the corner of Ackerstraße and includes a Chapel of Reconciliation, the Berlin Wall Documentation Centre, a 60-metre (200 ft) section of the former border, a window of remembrance and a visitor center.

Cengaver Katrancı was a Turkish boy, who lived in West Berlin, in district of Kreuzberg. He drowned in the river Spree, which at the time and in this place was a border between East and West Berlin. In view of the circumstances surrounding the accident Cengaver Katrancı is one of the youngest victims of the Berlin Wall’s existence.

Hildegard Trabant

Hildegard Johanna Maria Trabant was an East German woman who became the fiftieth known person to die at the Berlin Wall. Trabant was shot and killed by East German border guards during a crossing attempt, one of only eight women victims of the Berlin Wall, and was the only escapee victim known to have a record of loyalty toward the East German regime.

Erna Kelm Died at the Berlin wall

Erna Kelm was a German woman who became the twenty-third known person to die at the Berlin Wall. Kelm tried to cross the border by swimming across the Havel river, but drowned during the attempt. Kelm was one of only eight women victims, and at the age of 53, was one of the oldest victims of the Berlin Wall.

Dorit Schmiel German seamstress died at the Berlin wall

Dorit Schmiel was a German seamstress who became the thirteenth known person to die at the Berlin Wall. Schmiel was fatally shot by East German border guards while attempting to escape from East Berlin to West Berlin with a group of friends, including her fiancé. Schmiel was one of only eight women to die at the Berlin Wall, and at 20 years-old was the second youngest woman victim.

Klaus Brueske was a German truck driver who became the sixteenth person to die at the Berlin Wall. Brueske died in an attempt to break through the Heinrich-Heine-Straße border crossing in a truck, and was the first Berlin Wall victim to die from suffocation.

Udo Düllick was one of the first to die at the Berlin wall. He drowned while fleeing in the Spree river between Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg near the Oberbaumbrücke in Berlin, Germany.

Olga Segler Both one of the earliest and the oldest victims of the Berlin Wall

Olga Segler was a German woman who died of injuries as a result of crossing the Berlin Wall.

Dieter Wohlfarth

Dieter Wohlfahrt was an escape helper and the first non-German and non West Berlin resident to die at the Berlin Wall.

Rudolf Urban (Berlin Wall victim) German man Berlin Wall victim

Rudolf Urban was a German man who died as a result of injuries sustained while crossing the Berlin Wall.

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