Photo Gallery Berlin Wall 'Shoot to Kill' Order Found

A newly found document provides evidence that East German border guards had a standing order to kill people -- men, women and children -- trying to cross the Berlin Wall.
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Aug. 13, 2007 marks the 46th anniversary of the construction of the Berlin Wall. The Wall -- officially known in the East during the Cold War as the "Anti-Fascist Protection Barrier" -- started out in 1961 as a hastily-laid barbed wire boundary, which was soon replaced with concrete bricks and wire.

Foto: DDP
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The Wall had a much less menacing aspect in its early days, as attested here by two Berlin mothers waving to their children in the Wall's first month.

Foto: DDP
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In time, however, the Wall would become much more than just a wall. Instead, two walls would run around West Berlin with a moat-like area in between.

Foto: AP
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Known as the "death strip," the area between the walls included guard towers, barbed-wire fences, anti-vehicle trenches and guard dogs.

Foto: AP
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Border guards stand atop the Berlin Wall, just days before it would come down in 1989. East Germany's ex-leaders have always denied having ordered soldiers to shoot people trying to flee across the Wall.

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A written order has recently been discovered showing that guards were ordered to open fire on people attempting to escape -- and even on children. Times had changed when this photo was taken in 1989, after border restrictions had been relaxed; Here the guards are helping the child get on the wall.

Foto: DDP
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The orders in the command are clear and brutal: "It is your duty to use your combat ... skills in such a way as to overcome the cunning of the border breacher... Don't hestitate to use your weapon even when border breaches happen with women and children."

Foto: AFP
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It is unclear whether the discovery will lead to a re-opening of past cases or if there'll be a criminal investigation into who issued the October 1973 order.

Foto: AP
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At various point in the city, there are markers to those who died. These crosses lie just a stone's throw from the Reichstag, the German parliament building.

Foto: AP
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A portrait of a US soldier peers through crosses erected at a memorial at Berlin's Checkpoint Charlie dedicated to the roughly 1,100 people who lost their lives trying to cross the Wall.

Foto: AFP
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Only a few short stretches of the Wall remain. Here a tourist photographs one preserved stretch on Bernauer Strasse.

Foto: AP
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Though physically gone for the most part, memories of the Wall linger strongly in the minds of those who lived under the regime that erected it. Here a former resident of East Germany stands by the Berlin Wall memorial on Bernauer Strasse.

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Here, young Russian volunteers search for remains of a church which once stood in the so-called "death strip." The Church of the Reconciliation was dynamited by the East German authorities in 1985, allegedly for security reasons.

Foto: DDP
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The Wall's victims are still remembered. Here, memorial "death notices" are laid and decorated with roses on Aug. 13, 2007, the 46th anniversary of the wall's erection.

Foto: DPA
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East Germany's last leader, Egon Krenz, continues to deny the existence of the "shoot to kill" order. This week he stated: "There was no kill order or firing order... Such an order would have been in breach of the law of the GDR."

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