The Victims at the Berlin Wall, 1961-1989
Completed Research Project by the Centre for Contemporary History, Potsdam, and the Berlin Wall Foundation
Hans-Hermann Hertle (Centre for Contemporary History, Potsdam) / Maria Nooke (Berlin Wall Foundation)
Udo Baron, Christine Brecht and Martin Ahrends, Lydia Dollmann
Magdalena Dźwigał, Filip Gańczak, Nora Prüfer
Funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media (BKM) 2005 - 2009/2011
Between 1961 and 1989, at least 140 people were killed at the Berlin Wall or died under circumstances directly connected with the East German border regime. This number includes 101 escapees who were shot dead, suffered fatal accidents or committed suicide during an attempt to cross the border, 30 individuals from East and West Germany and one Soviet soldier who were either shot or had a fatal accident with no intention of escaping, and eight further victims comprising GDR border soldiers killed in service by military deserters, fellow soldiers, an escapee, an escape agent and a West Berlin police officer.
In addition, at least 251 people from East and West died before, during or after controls at Berlin border crossings while travelling. The information presented here does not include the unknown number of people who died from grief and despair caused by the effects the building of the Wall had on their individual living situations.
This is the current status of the joint project carried out by the Berlin Wall Foundation and the Centre for Contemporary History, Potsdam (ZZF) with the financial backing of the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media (BKM). The project continued to investigate further suspected cases even after the end of project funding in 2009.
Besides determining the number and identities of the individuals who died at the Berlin Wall between 1961 and 1989, the main objective of the project was to document their lives and deaths through historical and biographical research. The portraits of 140 victims at the Berlin Wall (as of August 2017) were published on the joint website ‘Chronicle of the Wall’ of the Federal Agency for Civic Education/Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, Deutschlandradio and the ZZF, as well as on the homepage of the Berlin Wall Foundation.
Earlier results of the project (at the time still 136 victims) had been published in German (2009) and in English (2011) in print publications:
Hans-Hermann Hertle/Maria Nooke u.a., Die Todesopfer an der Berliner Mauer 1961-1989. Ein biographisches Handbuch, hg. vom Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung Potsdam und der Stiftung Berliner Mauer, 2. Aufl., Berlin 2009.
Hans-Hermann Hertle/Maria Nooke (eds.), The Victims at the Berlin Wall, 1961–1989. A Biographical Handbook, published by Centre for Contemporary History Potsdam and Berlin Wall Foundation, Berlin 2011.
An updated report on the project results can be found here in German and English:
Hans-Hermann Hertle/Maria Nooke, Die Todesopfer an der Berliner Mauer 1961-1989. Ergebnisse eines Forschungsprojektes des ZZF Potsdam und der Stiftung Berliner Mauer, Version 4.0, Potsdam/Berlin, August 2017.
Hans-Hermann Hertle/Maria Nooke, The Victims at the Berlin Wall, 1961-1989. Findings of a Research Project by the Centre for Contemporary History Potsdam and the Berlin Wall Foundation, Version 4.0, Potsdam/Berlin, August 2017.