Peter Fetcher

Peter Fechter


At midday on 17 August, 1962, Peter Fechter and Helmut Kulbeik, two teenage citizens of the GDR, jumped from a ground floor window on Zimmerstraße, Berlin, into ‘the death strip’ – an area of no-mans land leading up to the Berlin wall. As they reached the wall, ignoring orders from the GDR guards to halt, they were fired upon, with a total of twenty one shots. Helmut made it over the wall to safety but Peter was hit a number of times in the back and abdomen.

Seriously wounded, he lay a few yards short of the wall shouting for help. Hundreds of citizens of West Berlin gathered, shouting demands at the GDR guards and American soldiers to help Peter, though they did nothing. The bystanders were prevented at gunpoint from assisting him but TIME reported that a U.S. soldiers received specific orders to stand firm and do nothing. First aid kits were thrown over the wall but were of no use to Peter. After fifty minutes of calling for help, his calls fell silent.

He is carried away by East German border guards who shot him down and supposedly taken to a hospital where he died shortly after arrival. (Some claim he was already dead when GDR guards removed the body from the death strip. In March 1997, two former East German guards faced manslaughter charges for Fechter’s death and sentenced to 20 month’s imprisonment on probation. 





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