Researchers hike East German deaths estimate

11th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Authorities in communist East Germany were responsible for the deaths of 1,393 people between 1961 and its demise in 1989, 46 more than previously thought, researchers said Wednesday.

The new list published by the Checkpoint Charlie Museum, covering the period of the Berlin Wall, "is by no means complete" and is still a "working draft," it said in a statement.

The new list includes Klaus Kuehne, shot by border guards in 1962 whilst attempting to swim across a river to West Germany. His fate was not known until now.

Another is Karl-Heinz I., an officer in the East German army, who committed suicide just a few hours before the construction of the Berlin Wall began in 1961.

"I am no longer able to fulfil my tasks. I am too weak to do so. May my wife forgive me. It is better this way.'," the museum cited a suicide note found in his pocket as saying.

The repressive communist country, which also locked up political prisoners and where Chancellor Angela Merkel grew up, effectively collapsed in November 1989 when the Berlin Wall was torn down in a peaceful revolution.

Unification with West Germany took place the following year.

The total number of deaths is disputed and may never be known, with official figures and some historians putting the number of people killed much lower, partly because of stricter criteria.

© 2010 AFP

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