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3 - The "Wall" system

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  Description of a "modern border "

The impassible boundaryAn East German wanting to flee the country had to scale a whole succession of different obstacles a full list of which is given below :

  • A concrete wall (Hinterlandmauer), smooth and light-coloured, around 3.5 metres (11'6") high ; in places instead of this wall there would be a 3 to 4 metre (10-13') high wire-mesh fence, sometimes fitted with an electric warning device ;
  • " Stalin's grass ", i.e. steel stakes planted in the ground ;
  • A tightly meshed fence 2 metres (6'6") high ;
  • An acoustic or optic alarm cable ;
  • Wire entanglements ;
  • A bunker ;
  • A rail on which ran long leads for the guard dogs ;
  • A strip of land 6 to 15 metres (20-50') wide, covered with sand so as to leave the footprints of any fugitives ; sometimes mines were buried underneath ;
  • An anti-vehicle ditch 3 to 5 metres (10-16') deep ;
  • Street lamps 5 metres (16') high ;
  • A tarmacked strip 3 to 4 metres (10-13') wide covered by armed patrols in Trabants specially fitted to move noiselessly ;
  • 2 metre (6'6") high electric fence that when touched set off a sound or optical alarm ;
  • A strip of open land ;

A second concrete wall, with a greyish-white facing against which a fugitive’s silhouette stood out clearly. Using a technique developed by agricultural engineers for siloes, the wall was made up of concrete slabs 3.50 to 4.20 metres (11'6"-13'9") high and 15 centimetres (6") thick, set into the ground, keyed in with each other, each one weighing 2.6 tonnes, capable of withstanding the impact of heavy vehicles, and capped with an asbestos cement tube designed to prevent escapees from getting a hold by hand or with a grapnel.

 

The concrete wall
The concrete Wall

Wire entanglements
Wire entanglements

The second concrete wal
The second concrete wall

 

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