This page includes graphic photos of injured and deceased people.
In my mind, the DDR (East Germany) was little more than a 17 million person Soviet war prison. It existed for over 40 years. The first picture below shows a typical fortification layout, circa 1975-80, along the (former) East-West German border, in the Harz Mountains, perhaps.
The next 2 photos show close ups of the devious automatic firing device, "SM 70" (Splittermine Modell 1970). They are shown mounted on metal trellis fences. The SM-70s were dismantled sometime during the 1980s at the insistence of the West German government.
This next photo shows the trigger-wires for the SM 70s. The photo was taken from the East German side.
This next photo shows the deployed SM 70 devices as seen from the west, looking east. Notice they are again positioned at different heights.
Below is a victim of the SM 70s. Also shown are some SM 70 fragments. Click here to see more on the victims of the SM 70 device (in German, of course).
Next, we have the victim of a conventional firearm wielded by a border guard with orders - from Erich Honecker himself - to shoot to kill all those who would escape his socialist prison. Below that, we see the aftermath of someone who stepped on a land mine while trying to flee East Germany. I imagine that he was screaming in pain - begging for help, but was just ignored by the "border troops" as he lay there bleeding to death. I noticed, too, that both his hands were full of dirt, which makes me think that he tried grabbing and squeezing handfuls of dirt in order to cope with the intense pain he must have felt from his missing foot, while dying. Remember now, he was once somebody's "little Karl-Heinz".
From the above photos, the assumed identity "H. Genau" was perhaps to remind himself that he must be very careful in doing what he was about to try. You see, "genau" is the German word for "exact" or "exactly"! Perhaps his assumed first name was Hoch, meaning "high" or "highly". And below we have the unfortunate land mine victim's face.
Below is the cover of my source for the black and white pictures found on this page.
Finally, the astute reader has determined by now, that almost all of the above DDR stamps were for a "transit" across the "East German Occupation Territory". Only the 1979 stamps at the top are associated with an actual DDR visit by me - an afternoon in East Berlin, on foot, via Checkpoint Charlie. The rest of the stamps show me just crossing the DDR to get to Poland and back in 1981, '83 and '85. The picture below is from my third and most recent trip to Poland, mid-August 1985.
Well, after seeing all of that sadness, you deserve a break! Here's a webpage by "Der Spiegel" (in German, of course), which tells of numerous successful escapes from the DDR. I guarantee you at least one smile!
English readers who don't want to hassle with the translation machine may wish to look here for some interesting background information, or here for a historical time line of the Berlin Wall.
On the Other Hand...
There were many people actually allowed to leave the DDR - and still others were deported! Probably the criminals and other "undesirables". I found it cool to find Nina Hagen and her mother mentioned here! They went through the process of leaving the DDR legally in 1976-77, and were then both identified as actresses!