Second Stasi shoot-to-kill order found
15 August 2007, BERLIN (AP) -- A second written order by East Germany's Stasi to shoot people fleeing the communist country has emerged from the secret police's voluminous archives, the government agency that keeps the files said.
15 August 2007
BERLIN (AP) -- A second written order by East Germany's Stasi to shoot people fleeing the communist country has emerged from the secret police's voluminous archives, the government agency that keeps the files said.
The find -- at a branch of the archive in the eastern city of Chemnitz -- came after an identically worded order was published over the weekend, triggering an investigation into whether the new criminal proceedings could be launched.
Official East German border regulations said use of a firearm was to be considered an "extreme measure in the use of force," but the document widely published Saturday -- an Oct. 1, 1973 order to a Stasi border unit whose task was to prevent soldiers deserting -- was much less reserved.
"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 order said.
The second copy of the order, unlike the first one, was signed by a company commander, the Stasi archives agency said in a statement. It did not identify the commander or give the date of the order -- but the signature might make it easier to open legal proceedings.
The Stasi's "Einsatzkompanie" unit existed from 1968 to 1985 and had 70 members who were infiltrated into East Germany's national army.
The unusually explicit order initially was greeted as a new find last weekend, but it then emerged that copies surfaced a decade or more ago without attracting widespread attention.
Hundreds of former East German border guards and officials have been convicted for shootings at Germany's heavily fortified Cold War border.
Most received suspended sentences, although a few former leaders went to jail, and the issue has largely faded from public debate in recent years.
Subject: German news