Peter Fechter memorial

  • Peter Fechter Mahnmal

On 17 August 1962, Peter Fechter was shot and killed by GDR border guards attempting to flee over the Berlin Wall into the West. While his colleague managed to escape, the soldiers left the young construction worker seriously injured without medical care at the foot of the Wall in what was called the death strip. Only after a good 50 minutes was he rescued by GDR border guards and taken to a hospital, where he then died. The Peter Fechter memorial commemorates the inhumane death of the then 18-year-old and the Wall as the epitome of lack of freedom and oppression.

Memorial for victims of the Wall

The atmosphere on the inner-German border in Berlin was tense for the entire summer of 1962 and barely a week went by without bloody incidents. The people of West Berlin were increasingly unwilling to accept what was happening at the Wall. On 13 August 1962, the first anniversary of the Wall, they revolted against the division of the city and the acts of violence against border refugees. A few days later, on 17 August, the murder of Peter Fechter aroused horror and mourning amongst the people. On the same day, West Berlin citizens lay wreaths and flowers in Zimmerstraße and erected the memorial site with a wooden cross, which has been preserved to this day. Every year on 13 August, residents and politicians still commemorate the victims who lost their lives at the Wall. Between 1949 and 1989, a total of 960 people died on the inner-German border.

... he only wanted freedom

Peter Fechter was not the first death at the Wall, but he was the first to die so publicly. The dramatic circumstances of his death were documented on film. They made him the world's best-known victim of the Wall, whose desire for freedom was punished with death. Numerous eyewitnesses on both sides of the Wall were unable to provide help. Even the Allies, stationed only a hundred metres away at Checkpoint Charlie, did not dare to enter East Berlin. Due to the tense political situation, they feared triggering a military conflict. The East Berlin border police were also not allowed to enter the border strip without permission. Only after 50 minutes was the seriously injured Peter Fechter taken to a hospital, where he died shortly afterwards. The wooden cross, erected in memory of Peter Fechter, was replaced in 1999 by a stela with the inscription"... he only wanted freedom".

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