Sign at the Inner German borderForty six years ago today, the East German Stalinist regime began fortifying the border across Germany. They built one of the most infamous borders ever: the Berlin Wall. During the 28 years that followed, an estimated 260 people were killed in attempts to cross into West Germany. The Stalinists always denied that the regime gave explicit orders to shoot these people, but a newly discovered document proves that the Stasi, the secret police, had numerous agents among the border guards and these Stasi agents had unequivocal orders to shoot to kill:

Do not hesitate to use your guns even if women or children are involved in the border penetration, as the traitors are known to use these situations.

Translated from Der Spiegel, quoting from Dienstanweisung vom 1. Oktober 1973.

Apparently the Stasi agents had orders to prevent defections from the border patrol, and they were to shoot anyone who tried to cross into West Germany illegally. Egon Krenz, the last ruler of the GDR, has vehemently denied the existence of the Schießbefehl – at least as an order to shoot to kill. The question about the Schießbefehl is pretty important, because the existence of such an order to kill refugees, moves the responsibility for the killing of defectors from East Germany up the ranks. Otherwise, the responsibility for these acts lies squarely on the shoulders of the border guards who pulled the trigger, and who were later prosecuted in the Mauerschützen-Prozesse.

Comments are closed.