The investigative department of the Institute of National Remembrance informed about the decision of the District Court in Poznań regarding the issuance of the European Arrest Warrant against Manfred N. A German citizen was an operational officer of the Security Service of the GDR. He is suspected of the murder of a Pole who tried to get to West Berlin.
The Main Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation informed PAP about the case. On Wednesday, information on this subject was also posted on the website of the Institute of National Remembrance. The proceedings in this case, initiated ex officio by the IPN prosecutor, are conducted by the Branch Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation in Poznań.
The former Stasi officer is suspected that on March 29, 1974, at the Friedrichstrasse railway border crossing in East Berlin, he was acting to prevent the crossing of the state border between the GDR and West Berlin, according to PAP prosecutor Robert Janicki from the Central Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Nation Polish – he fired a firearm in the back of a Polish citizen Czesław K. Thus, he caused severe injuries to his internal organs and death.
– On the critical day, Czesław K. appeared at the building of the Polish embassy in East Berlin, where, pretending to be in possession of an explosive and threatening to use it, he tried to obtain permission to move to West Berlin. An officer of the SB – a resident of Department I of the Ministry of Internal Affairs at the Polish embassy notified the security service of the GDR, where a decision was made to “neutralize a Polish citizen outside the building of the Polish People’s Republic embassy”. Stasi officers assumed that Czesław K. would not leave the GDR, and to prevent this it might be necessary to use firearms, which the resident of Department I of the Ministry of Internal Affairs at the Polish embassy was informed of, the IPN prosecutor said.
In order to create the appearance of actions aimed at fulfilling the victim’s request, on the same day, the Stasi officers came to the Polish embassy in East Berlin, where they issued the documents necessary to cross the border with West Berlin, and then, together with Czesław K., left the Polish embassy, then driving in the car in side of the border crossing located at the station at Friedrichstrasse.
“At the border crossing, after arranging a ‘check-in’, Czesław K. was allowed to go towards West Berlin. When Czesław K. was heading towards the subway tunnel, an unattended Stasi officer, Manfred N., fired a firearm from a distance of about two meters. The seriously injured Czesław K. was then taken to hospital, where he died as a result of his injuries, “the Institute’s investigative department reported.
After the incident, the Stasi officers prepared a report on “foiling the terrorist attack”, in which they stated that Czesław K. during the briefing unexpectedly took a firearm from his coat pocket and directed it towards, among others, uniformed border guards. At that time, one of the officers, in order to protect the life and health of the people at risk, shot the attacker with a service weapon.
– This description was edited in such a way as to justify the use of a firearm and killing the victim – emphasized the prosecutor of the Institute of National Remembrance.
During talks conducted immediately after the event by representatives of the People’s Republic of Poland and the GDR, the Polish side insisted on adopting a scenario according to which Czesław K.’s death was to occur as a result of suicide, and the body was found decaying in a forest near Berlin, which would “avoid any questions” in Poland .
“The GDR authorities, for procedural reasons, did not agree to such a solution, presenting the case in official documents as ‘eliminating the attacker who was threatening with a weapon.’ Stasi officers who participated in this ‘suppression of a terrorist attack’ were then awarded high state decorations. from firearms to Czesław K. was awarded the Bronze Order of Merit in Fighting for the People and the Fatherland with the justification that he ‘neutralized the terrorist using firearms’, and his superiors emphasized in their official opinions that he was always proving his loyalty to the party and state leaders, and when making the decision is driven by a class struggle “- stated in the communiqué of the IPN’s investigative department.
A trap set
In the opinion of the Branch Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation in Poznań, the findings of the investigation “unquestionably indicate that Czesław K. was set a trap by the East German security service, assuming in advance that he would be prevented from leaving East Berlin, even at the cost of his life.”
– The perpetrator deceptively fired the fatal shot at the victim’s back, without warning, in a way that allowed him to predict his death and in a situation where the victim did not pose any threat. Czesław K. did not have an explosive, he was shot treacherously when he was leaving the area of East Berlin, and in order to make his actions legitimate, the East German authorities used a hoax to pretend that he had a firearm, which he allegedly threatened the border guards. The actions of the Stasi officers were therefore aimed at preventing Czesław K. from crossing the border at all costs, in violation of elementary human rights and in the name of the implementation of the political assumptions of the totalitarian state, assessed the prosecutor of the Institute of National Remembrance. – This act was in fact an execution carried out without a court sentence – emphasized Robert Janicki.
The symbol of the iron curtain
In the communist East Germany – as the investigation department of the Institute of National Remembrance reminds – securing the state border was one of the most important, if not the most important political problem. In order to stop the wave of refugees heading to the West, the Berlin Wall was erected in 1961 and security measures along the border between the two German states were strengthened with enormous efforts. The wall has become a symbol of the Iron Curtain separating Central and Eastern Europe from the West.
“The introduced border regime was one of the most formalized and strictest in the world” – emphasized the Institute of National Remembrance, noting that those who tried to cross the border illegally were treated as opponents who should be captured or killed at all costs, and orders to shoot refugees were a constant element regime from 1947 until the fall of the Berlin Wall. “The number of reported victims of this practice varies depending on the sources, from around 300 to over 900 killed,” he concluded, adding that the communist government’s “border security” grossly violated human rights.
– The concept which prohibits crossing the border above the right to life grossly and fundamentally violated the elementary principles of justice and human rights protected by international law – added the prosecutor of the Institute of National Remembrance.
Main photo source: Leszek Szymański / PAP