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East German Shoot-to-Kill Order Is Found - New York Times

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Soviet cogitations: 3508
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Jun 2005, 23:39
Politburo
Post 13 Aug 2007, 13:07
East German Shoot-to-Kill Order Is Found

By JUDY DEMPSEY
Published: August 13, 2007

BERLIN, Aug. 12 — Seventeen years after German reunification, archivists have found the first written proof that East German border guards had been ordered to shoot to kill anyone trying to escape to West Germany, including women and children.

The seven-page order, dated Oct. 1, 1973, was discovered last week in the regional archive office in the eastern German city of Magdeburg. Though unsigned, it shows that the Ministry for State Security, known as the Stasi, had told guards that they must “stop or liquidate” anyone trying to cross the border.

“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,” the document said.

The revelations, which stunned politicians here across the political spectrum, were made public just days before the 46th anniversary on Monday of the building of the Berlin Wall, which divided the city and became the symbol of the cold war. The wall was toppled on Nov. 9, 1989, and paved the way for the reunification of the city and the two Germanys.

The number of East Germans who successfully crossed the border is unknown. According to historians, about 2,800 border guards crossed the border from 1961 to 1989. The Center for Contemporary Historical Research in Potsdam, near Berlin, said 270 to 780 people trying to flee were killed by border guards.

According to the document, the orders were issued to a special Stasi unit. The unit had been attached to the regular East German border guards in the Magdeburg region, which bordered West Germany. The Stasi unit was charged with preventing border guards from fleeing to the West with their families.

Politicians from eastern Germany said Sunday that they had no doubt that the document was authentic. But some were skeptical that it would lead to prosecutions. Wolfgang Thierse, a legislator in the German Parliament, and a leading Social Democrat from eastern Berlin, said the document carried no names, so it would be difficult to initiate trials.

Former East German Communist Party leaders and senior functionaries have repeatedly denied that the Stasi, one of the largest and most pervasive of the secret police organizations in the former Communist Eastern Europe, had given shoot-to-kill orders. But on Sunday, Marianne Birthler, director of the government office that manages the Stasi files, said the document offered firm evidence that the top leadership had expected that anyone trying to flee would be killed.

“The document is so important because the political leaders of the time continue to deny there was an order to shoot,” Ms. Birthler told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, the leading conservative newspaper.

Egon Krenz, the last Communist leader of East Germany, denied that there had been any such orders. “There was no order to kill, or as they call it, an order to shoot to kill,” he said in an interview to be published Monday in Bild Zeitung, a mass-circulation daily newspaper. “I don’t know this from files. I know this from my own experience. Such an order would have contradicted East German law.”

Mr. Krenz served four years of a six-and-a-half-year prison sentence for manslaughter related to deaths of East Germans trying to cross the Berlin Wall.

Ronald Pofalla, general secretary of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Party, told the newspaper BZ in Berlin, “On the eve of the anniversary of the construction of the wall, it is a lesson to all of those who want to let the barbarity of the Communist regime be consigned to the annals of history.”

Thomas Steg, a spokesman for the government, said, “The federal government will continue to support the efforts to address the working of the East German Communist dictatorship.”

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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Apr 2007, 14:32
Pioneer
Post 13 Aug 2007, 13:32
It's a forgery. I find it a bit odd that they should find such "orders" in a time when nostalgia and longing for the DDR is at an all-time high. They want to do ANYTHING to discredit the DDR, which even the NPD said was the far better of the two Germanys.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Jun 2005, 23:39
Politburo
Post 13 Aug 2007, 13:53
Yes, and the fact it was unsigned adds to my suspicions.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 21 Dec 2004, 23:53
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Philosophized
Post 13 Aug 2007, 16:59
I actually didn't think it was news... does anyone have a link to the document? I'd like to read over it.
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"By what standard of morality can the violence used by a slave to break his chains be considered the same as the violence of a slave master?" - Walter Rodney
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 08 Aug 2007, 07:00
Pioneer
Post 13 Aug 2007, 21:38
It could be legitimate in that since it was unsigned it was nothing more then an over enthusiastic member of Stasi who came up with it. Hence why it would be unsigned but as Comrade Red October said its a little convenient to find this when the average German is missing the DDR.
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