Escape tunnels, death, and the commemoration of the GDR's hero-victims
The central event explored in this chapter is the large-scale tunnel escape from East to West Berlin in early October 1964 that claimed the life of the GDR border guard Egon Schultz. Extrapolating from this incident, the chapter continues, in part, to examine the ways in which the GDR constructed and maintained its public narratives of the hero-victims of the socialist frontier (the theme of the preceding chapter). The chapter also examines a closely related East German process that lacked a direct Western equivalent: the systematic, government-run long-term commemoration of these hero-victims that was maintained consistently through a wide variety of means. In addition, the chapter uses public reactions to the October 1964 tunnel escape and its consequences, particularly in the West, to highlight the gradual rise of a new political phenomenon that was to be of fundamental significance for divided Berlin: East–West détente.
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