Behind the wall: how Berlin lived in two parts
Attempts to cross the Berlin Wall were more than 50 thousand, only a tenth became successful. They fled for various reasons - the reunion of families and lovers, the search for a better life. About the most unusual cases - in the second part of the Sputnik radio wall Berlin special project.
The Berlin Wall lasted almost 30 years. The Death Strip, a fortification system on the east side, was equipped with spikes, barbed wire, electric wires and spotlights. The wall was guarded by the police and the army, anti-tank hedgehogs were put up in case of an armed clash and a trench was dug.
The first victim of the Cold War is a woman who jumped out of the window of a house on the border. This happened a week after the wall was built, and two days later the border guards used weapons. The young man, Gunter Litfin, lived in the eastern part, and studied and worked in the western part. He could not move in time due to the death of his father, later decided to cross the border and was shot.
Ulrich Hayden, correspondent for der Freitag, recalls: “It was possible to go only along a certain road and stop only at certain gas stations. I could freely visit the eastern part of Berlin, but I had to return by evening.”
Neither the wall nor the armed guards could stop the Germans wishing to cross the border in search of a better life. Equipped caches in cars, built aircraft, dug tunnels under the wall. 57 people crossed the western side through the most famous 140 meters long dig.
Another wonderful digging: 11 old men - most of them over 70 - dug in just two weeks a 32-meter tunnel with a width of one and a half meters and a height of almost two. The tunnel started from the chicken coop of 82-year-old Max.
There was also a circus acrobat Horst Klein, who climbed over the wall through high-voltage wires. Two families from the German Democratic Republic manufactured a balloon in the strictest secrecy and launched it in a field near Berlin. The flight was successful - four adults and two children ended up in Germany.
The refugees were not only one way. There were also defectors from west to east. West Berliners could get to the east legally, but there were also those who climbed the wall - 410 people tried to cross this barrier from the western territory.
The reasons were different: love, family, nostalgia for the past in the GDR or just for fun. The most difficult thing was for those who had once fled from East Berlin, and then began to miss family and friends. In the GDR, such fugitives were declared persona non grata. The Austrian correspondent and author of the books, Ewald König, was in camps for defectors from East Germany. He recalls that "it was a difficult and very emotional sight."
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