1961: First man shot dead escaping East Berlin

Gunter Litfin

Eleven days after the border wall went up in 1961, East German citizen Günter Litfin was shot dead in an escape attempt near the main railway station.

He was the first person to be killed by shooting at the Berlin Wall.

As a tribute, his brother Jurgen Litfin restored an old East German watch tower in memory of Gunter – which still attracts visitors to this day.

Even now in his 80’s, Jurgen’s eyes well up as he describes how Gunter was cut down by machine-gun fire as he tried to swim to freedom – he says his family found out about the incident on West German television.

Jurgen also tells the story of how the family was forced by the infamous Stasi to say that Gunter had been involved in an accident – he says his – his brother wasn’t a troublemaker – just a modest tailor that wanted freedom.