Children drowning in the Berlin Wall: Cengaver, Çetin, Giuseppe ...
"At 12:50, a firefighter from West Berlin was seen at the border crossing point in Oberbaumbrücke. He spoke to the official at the crossing point and said that he wanted to assign his divers because a child fell into water. This request was denied through the official."
Çetin, one of the three sons of the Düzceli Mert family, was drowned on his fifth birthday, as mentioned in the report of May 12, 1975 of the East German secret service Stasi.
In the headline of the Bild Newspaper, it was titled "The area that is forbidden to rescue: The child was drowned in Spree" & nbsp; and on the inner pages he said "Can we save the child?
Berliner Zeitung newspaper, on the other hand, was announcing the news with the headline "My brother! My brother is dead" with a photo showing the people trying to cheer Yalçın, the brother of Çetin Mert, crying at the scene.
The device, which is about two meters long, exhibited in the Berlin Wall Museum today, also remains from those days. It says "Wasserunfall - Water accident".
After Çetin's death, with the agreement reached between the East and West German governments in 1976, 20 of these devices were placed in various places of the Spree River passing through the middle of Berlin.
The wall divided not only the city but the world into communist and capitalist hemispheres, and it was one of the nerve endings of the Cold War between the USSR and the US.
The West German administration preferred not to put any obstacles on the west side of the river so that those who could swim from the East could easily climb up the coast.
After the deaths, where the East German government owned the entire Spree River, wire was first drawn to the west side of the river, and then devices were placed.
But at a time when the tension reached its peak in the Cold War, five children had to fall and drown in the river in order for two hostile governments to come together and compromise.
The device also had instructions in Turkish. Because these tragic deaths took place in the region where the Spree River passes through the Kreuzberg district called "Little Istanbul", where immigrant workers live.
Two or more of the five children who died near the Oberbaum Bridge, from about 1966 to 1975, were German, two Turkish and one Italian immigrant workers. Andreas Senk, 6 years old, Cengâver Katrancı, 8 years old, Giuseppe Savoca, 6 years old, Siegfried Kroboth, 5 years old, and finally Çetin Mert, 5 years old on May 11, 1975.
When feeding the swans, trying to catch the escaping ball, trying to fish, when they lost their balance while playing, they fell into the water, pushing the friend next to him for a joke.
Dr. Potsdam Leibniz Contemporary History Center. Hanno Hochmuth "There was no obstacle. The river was the children's playground in Kreuzberg. The bank of the river was one of West Berlin's most abandoned places. In the 1970s, nobody was interested in it, and it was an attractive place to play for children." says.
But in other conditions, if they were elsewhere, these children would get a little wet, a little cold, and return home. But for them, it was the end of their life.
Eyewitnesses or West German emergency teams who wanted to save the children asked for permission from the East German boats or guard towers patrolling each time.
But on the East German side, it took hours for the bureaucracy wheels to operate and allow intervention, and only the lifeless bodies of children could be removed from the water.
They were taken to East Berlin because they were deemed to have died on the territory of East Germany, and while the families were experiencing the pain of losing their children, they also tried to take the funeral of their children. Cengâver was buried in Ankara and Çetin was buried in Düzce.
In fact, negotiations to establish an emergency procedure between the two sides began in 1972 with the death of Cengâver. But this lasted for years, and there was no result until Çetin's death on the 11th of May 1975, the day of his fifth birthday.
"The first years of the 1970s were a period of new negotiations, new reconciliations. For example, West Berliners' visit to the East was facilitated. The two German states accepted each other's existence in some respects. Money issues, transit, how to send West German garbage to the East "It was more important to politicians from both sides. They didn't care. So, once again, once again, once again, a total of five boys should have lived until they drowned in exactly the same place."
Hochmuth, who said that the five children who died should be considered together with a total of 140 victims of the wall, states that the fact that the wall is so deadly is existential for the communist East German regime;
"From the East German perspective, these kids' terrible destinies were just a waste. So they didn't care much, because the wall had to be deadly to find its true meaning."
One week after Çetin's drowning, hundreds of people attended the riverside protest organized by Turkish associations and non-governmental organizations.
In our research in the Stasi archives, we found documents where photographs of the action were taken from across the river, information about the participants and slogans, details of the banners were recorded.
In one of the intelligence reports, father Ramiz Mert was also present with an anti-East German banner. "The father of the child, who was drowned in the past days, was sitting on a banner with the label" DDR- prevented a rescue-Murder "in the first Ford Transit brand vehicle at the show." he called.
But about 45 years ago, the deaths that resonated in Berlin seemed to have been lost from social memory. There are those who personally witnessed the first generation of migrant workers have either passed away or retired, had made a definite return to Turkey.
Researchers from the Technical University of Berlin Gülşah staple status "People had other troubles. There was unemployment. 'Are we going back to Turkey, are we going back?' "Everyone was busy with their own problems. In order for it to be in memory, everyone's situation should be a little better. You don't have time for such matters among everyday problems such as business boy, livelihood." he explains.
As seen in the photo taken immediately after Çetin's death, his elder brother Yalçın Mert still lives in Berlin. Yalçın Mert, who had a stroke a few years ago, did not want to talk about his brother's death.
However, thanks to Yalçın Mert, Çetin Mert's name still lives in the new generation of the family in Berlin. Yalçın Mert named the name of his brother to his son who was born in 1980 at the request of their mother Münevver Mert.
Çetin said that the tragedy was not spoken in the family and learned what happened when he was 16, when he read the newspaper clipping he found at home and asked his father.
Çetin, Cengâver and three other young children fell on the River Spree. But they drowned in a bureaucratic black hole, not in the waters of the river, where they could be easily rescued. It is possible to see the photographs of the children in the monument now dedicated to all victims of the wall.
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