Stasi Ordered to Shoot First

Defectors stood little chance at Berlin Wall
By Heather McPherson,  Newser User
Posted Aug 12, 2007 3:08 PM CDT
WEST GERMANY. West Berlin. 1983. Brandenburg Gate. (NYC44360)   (Magnum Photos)
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(Newser) – During the Cold War, East German border police were ordered to shoot all attempted defectors, a newly discovered Stasi document confirms. “Do not hesitate with the use of a firearm, including when the border breakouts involve women and children, which the traitors have already frequently taken advantage of,” the 1973 order commands.

The order represents the most robust proof of the Stasi’s shoot-to-kill policy, the BBC reports, contradicting both official policy and statements by former GDR leaders, who continue to deny it. A victims’ organization recently claimed that at least 1,245 East Germans were killed trying to escape the country, half of them after the 1961 construction of the Berlin Wall.