East German death strip exodus 'still traumatic'

East German death strip exodus 'still traumatic'
Photo: DPA

People who were forced to move to make way for the East German border death strip 60 years ago should be compensated as many are still traumatised, the head of a memorial commemorating the division of Germany says.


Sascha Möbius was speaking on Saturday's 60th anniversary of the day when the East German (GDR) government started reinforcing the border between what would become east and west Germany - and forcing those in the way to move.

On May 26, 1952, in a “blitz” action, the GDR government started forcing people out of their homes in what would become the border area.

The government started to shore up the border and created a no-man’s land between the east German side and the complex of walls and fences which eventually sealed off the country.

The border zone was five kilometres wide and extended to the entire 1,394 kilometre border, Die Welt newspaper wrote on Saturday. Watch towers, wired fences and a 500-metre wide protective strip often seeded with landmines that could only be accessed during the day and with special permission were erected.

This made it impossible for east Germans to cross to the west along the border with the latter.

It was still possible to escape through Berlin, as the underground ran through the city, but this option was eliminated with the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961.

Many of the more than 8,000 people deported remain traumatized, Möbius told the MDR broadcaster, calling for them to be offered a pension in recognition of that.

DAPD/The Local/mw


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