What does it proof?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007 at 4:34 | Posted in Germany, Human rights | Leave a comment

There has been much media buzz these last days in Germany and elsewhere about a certain document said to be unsurfaced recently. As it turns out, the document, also referred to as shooting order, was discovered and even referred to in official files as early as 10 years ago.

Is this such a ground breaking piece of news? Does it proof something? Does it provide any information that was not known before? I do not think so.

Everybody knows that a large number of people trying to escape from East Germany where being killed by both members of STASI and regular boarder guards. It is a reasonable assumption that the boarder guards and special agents did not act on their own, they must have had an order to shoot. It would be plausible to believe that no order existed if the shootings had been isolated cases but the mere large number of them is circumstantial proof that killing refugees was a part of the system sanctioned by the government.

So what do we have here? SpOn International quotes the 7 page document as follows:

“It is your duty to use your combat … skills in such a way as to overcome the cunning of the border breacher, to challenge or liquidate him in order to thwart the planned border breach,” says the order dated October 1, 1973. “Don’t hesitate to use your weapon even when border breaches happen with women and children, which traitors have often exploited in the past.”

The document is dated but unsigned. We do not know who drafted it, nor do we know for certain who authorized it. Not a single incident of shooting has so far been proven to have taken place under authority placed on special agents by that particular document.

My conclusion is that while shading some additional light on the communist terror in former East Germany, this document (which was conveniantly published in connection with the 46th anniversary of the Berlin Wall) does not tell us what we did not already know. Neither does it proof guilt or innocence of anybody and it can certainly not be used as evidence at trials unless its origins can be verified.

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