Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Together with his friend Christian Gaudian, Gueffroy attempted on the night of February 5–6, 1989 to escape from East Berlin to West Berlin, along the Britz district canal. The two believed that the Schießbefehl, the standing order to shoot anyone who attempted to cross the wall, had been lifted. Climbing the last metal lattice fence, the two were discovered and came under fire from the NVA border troops. Gueffroy was hit in the chest by ten shots and died in the border strip. Gaudian, badly but not fatally injured, was arrested and was condemned May 24, 1989 to an imprisonment of three years by the Pankow district court for attempted illegal border-crossing of the first degree ("versuchten ungesetzlichen Grenzübertritts im schweren Fall").
The four border guards involved at first obtained an honorary award (Leistungsabzeichen der Grenztruppen) from the chief of the Grenzkommandos Mitte border guards, Erich Wöllner, and a prize of 150 DM each. However, after the reunification of East and West Germany they were prosecuted by Berlin regional court. Two of them were released in January 1992, one got a suspended sentence. The latter, Ingo Heinrich , who was responsible for the mortal shot in the heart, was at first condemned to three and a half years of jail. In an appeal to the Bundesgerichtshof (high court of justice) in 1994 the verdict was lowered to a suspended sentence of two years.
In 2000, two SED functionaries, Siegfried Lorenz and Hans-Joachim Böhme , were tried for the death of Gueffroy and two other young men, but acquitted as the judge could find no evidence that they might have been able to lift the shoot-to-kill order. The case was retried on 7 August 2004, however, and this time the two men were found guilty and given suspended sentences of 15 months each. The judge explained that the short sentences were due to the length of time since the events. This was the last case concerning deaths on the border of the GDR.
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