You are here: Home | The Berlin Wall | Fatalities | 1972

KLAUS SCHULZE

Klaus Schulze
Klaus Schulze was born on October 13, 1953 in Falkensee, which borders West Berlin. He had tried unsuccessfully to flee to West Berlin when he was 14 years old, but charges were not made against him since he was still a minor at the time.[1] The difficult circumstances under which he was raised may have been the reason for his escape attempt. Klaus Schulze attended the Geschwister-Scholl Schule, a school in Falkenhöh, from 1960 to 1968, but he fell behind in his school work. He later quit his vocational training as a cattle breeder and eked out a living as an unskilled worker.[2] He had no professional aspirations in the area where he grew up. He spent most of his time with a clique of young people his own age that the Stasi considered “a bunch of loafers” and a “negative group of teenagers.”[3] This group was typical of many young people in East Germany at this time who wanted many things, but did not want to live like their parents did. The kids in these groups thought having a steady job was square.

But in East Germany anyone without a “steady job” was bound to get into trouble with the state. After Klaus Schulze and his friend Dieter Krause quit their jobs at the state-owned Hennigsdorf steel mill in the summer of 1971 and had not worked for three weeks, they were reprimanded by the Falkenssee city council and encouraged to find work immediately. This was their last chance to “remain upright citizens and engage in decent work,” they were told.[4] On March 5, 1972 Klaus Schulze was again reprimanded for “absenteeism.”[5] A year had passed since the East German authorities had threatened to commit him and Dieter Krause to a re-education work camp and hence they were both eager to leave East Germany as soon as possible.[6]

They had a friend whose property in nearby Falkenhöh was situated right on the border. The two young men had taken a look at the border area there once during the day and once at night and then began preparing their flight. They realized that the border strip was probably visible from a watchtower about 300 meters away, but recognized that the overgrown vegetation would provide cover and that a light in the control strip was out.[7]

In the late afternoon of March 7, 1972, Klaus Schulze and Dieter Krause stopped by a number of bars in Falkensee. At about 10 p.m. they headed for Falkenhöh. After crossing a number of properties located near the border they reached the interior wire mesh security fence that bordered on their friend’s plot. He was not present at the time and was not informed about their escape plan. They found a 2.7-meter-long ladder in the shed. They pushed it through the bent fence before entering the border grounds. They were able to get over the signal fence with the ladder, but without realizing it, they had set off an alarm. Klaus Schulze, running behind one end of the ladder in a crouched position, stumbled over a trip wire. Dieter Krause was the first to reach the last fence, a 2.5-meter-high stretch metal fence set on an adjoining steep concrete slope, and placed the ladder on it. The head guard began firing his gun continuously; the other guard joined in the shooting shortly after this. Dieter Krause managed to get over the last fence amid a hail of bullets.[8] Klaus Schulze, who had fallen behind after he tripped, was hit by a bullet in his chest that shattered his major artery and lung.[9]

In the spring of 1991 Klaus Schulze’s siblings requested that the Berlin justice minister investigate the death of their brother.[10] In the fall of 1994 the investigation led to charges being filed against the two guards. The case against the head guard was ultimately dismissed due to his permanent inability to stand trial. The second gunman on trial claimed that he had intentionally shot over the ladder. He was acquitted in early 1997 because the Potsdam district court was unable to prove either an intention to kill or his involvement in joint manslaughter.[11]

Klaus Schulze’s sister was summoned by the authorities to an interrogation the day after her brother died. She was informed only that her brother had died under “dishonorable” circumstances.[12] Three days after the events of March 7, 1972, a state public prosecutor and member of the East German secret police informed Klaus Schulze’s parents that their son had “died in a fatal, self-inflicted accident during an attempted border breach.”[13] They were pressured into agreeing to a cremation. Their son’s personal possessions were returned to them against a receipt: “One pair of black men’s loafers.”[14] Stasi informants were also assigned to keep an eye on the family. Their mail was read so that “any possible negative reactions” that emerged could be suppressed.[15]

An urn containing the ashes of Klaus Schulze was buried in the cemetery in Falkensee on April 3, 1972.[16] The teenagers in Falkensee were not informed of the funeral’s date: They had wanted to use his funeral to organize a demonstration against the order to shoot fugitives at the border.[17]

[Martin Ahrends/Udo Baron/Hans-Hermann Hertle]


----
[1] See “Bericht des MfS/HA IX/4 über ein Vorkommnis im Bereich des 34. Grenzregimentes im Raum Falkensee/Ortsteil Falkenhöh, 9.3.1972,” in: BStU, MfS, HA IX Nr. 1038, Bl. 159–163, here Bl. 161.
[2] On this and the following, see “Abschlussbericht des MfS/KD Nauen zur VAO „Leiter“, 13.6.1973,” in: BStU, Ast. Potsdam, AU 777/73, Bd. 2, Bl. 41–52, here Bl. 46.
[3] “Sachstandsbericht des MfS/KD Nauen zum OVA „Leiter“, 30.8.1972,” in: BStU, Ast. Potsdam, AU 777/73, Bd. 2, Bl. 5.
[4] “Schreiben des Rates der Stadt Falkensee/Abt. Inneres an den VEB Quarzschmelze, 12.8.1971,” in: StA Neuruppin Az. 61 Js 39/94 (vormals StA Berlin, Az. 27 Js 134/90), Sonderheft, Bl. 33.
[5] See “Abschlussbericht des MfS/KD Nauen zur VAO „Leiter“, 13.6.1973,” in: BStU, Ast. Potsdam, AU 777/73, Bd. 2, Bl. 44.
[6] See “MfS-Vernehmungsprotokoll des Beschuldigten Dieter K., 5.5.1974,” in: BStU, Ast. Potsdam, AU 485/75, STA 1645, Bd. 1, Bl. 45–46. After his arrest in 1974, in his “explanation of the crime” Dieter Krause stated that his reasons for fleeing were both personal and political. Some of them can be deemed typical of his generation: Ongoing difficulties with his step-father; problems at his workplace, where he was misused as a gofer; rejection of the obligatory military service in the NVA, “since I could never shoot at a person;”; eagerness for a better life in West Berlin or West Germany; wanting to be closer to his biological father, who lived in West Berlin. (“Dieter Krause, Stellungnahme zur Straftat, Potsdam, 31.7.1974,” in: Ibid., Bl. 93).
[7] See ibid., Bl. 46–47.
[8] See ibid., Bl. 47–48. Dieter Krause had a difficult time gaining a foothold in the West. Two years after his escape to West Berlin, he was overwhelmed by the desire to see his mother again; he had not developed close or regular contact to his father and his second wife. On May 4, 1974, with the intention of “testing out” a one-day visit to East Berlin, he was arrested by the Stasi at the Friedrichstrasse station border crossing. The Nauen district court convicted him on September 19, 1974 of “fleeing the republic” and sentenced him to three years and six months in prison. The Federal Republic of Germany paid for his release in 1975. After that he continued to travel frequently from West Berlin to East Berlin, where he fell in love with 24-year-old Marlis Varschen in November 1975. He visited her no fewer than 240 times in East Berlin in 1976. They became engaged in the middle of the year. Officially, West Berliners were only permitted to enter East Germany on 30 days of the year, but at this time the East German authorities were apparently not strictly enforcing this rule. In August 1976 Marlis Varschen submitted to the Pankow city district council a request to marry Dieter Krause and move her residency to West Berlin. Suddenly, in December 1976, the East German authorities imposed an entry and transit ban on Dieter Krause. The couple was separated but managed to meet a few times in Poland until Dieter Krause was sent back and a short time later his fiancée’s identification card was retracted. Dieter Krause appealed to the East German Ministry of the Interior and the chancellor of West Germany – but it did not look like help would come in the near future. The couple could not bear being separated. In later February 1977 he managed to attain a transit visa for East Germany using a visa for Poland issued by the Polish military mission in West Berlin. He exited the train in East Berlin and sought out his fiancée. The couple was distraught and saw no way out of their dilemma. Together they committed suicide. Marlis Varschen was five months pregnant and left behind an 8-year-old son from her first marriage. See the television program “Kennzeichen D,” ZDF, 22.3.1977, typoscript in: BStU, MfS, HA IX Nr. 15591, Bl. 184–188; “Bericht des MfS/HA IX/7 über den Stand der Untersuchungen zum Selbstmord der DDR-Bürgerin Varschen, Marlis, und des Bürgers von Berlin (West) Krause, Dieter, Berlin, 14.3.1977,” in: BStU, MfS, AS 420/80, Bd. 1, Bl. 266–272.
[9] See “Bericht des MfS/HA IX/4 über ein Vorkommnis im Bereich des 34. Grenzregimentes im Raum Falkensee/Ortsteil Falkenhöh, 9.3.1972,” in: BStU, MfS, HA IX Nr. 1038, Bl. 159–160; “Obduktionsgutachten des Instituts für Gerichtliche Medizin der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin zu Klaus Schulze, Potsdam, 9.3.1972,” in: BStU, Ast. Potsdam, AP 1113/76, Bl. 18–19.
[10] See “Schreiben des Bruders von Klaus Schulze an die Berliner Justizsenatorin Jutta Limbach, 21.4.1991,” in: StA Neuruppin, Az. 61 Js 39/94 (vormals StA Berlin, Az. 27 Js 134/90), Bd. 1, Bl. 82–84.
[11] “Urteil des Landgerichts Potsdam vom 5.2.1997,” in: StA Neuruppin, Az. 61 Js 39/94 (vormals StA Berlin, Az. 27 Js 134/90), Bd.1, Bl. 373.
[12] See “Schreiben des Bruders von Klaus Schulze an die Berliner Justizsenatorin Jutta Limbach, 21.4.1991,” in: StA Neuruppin, Az. 61 Js 39/94 (vormals StA Berlin, Az. 27 Js 134/90), Bd. 1, Bl. 83.
[13] “Statement” forced from Klaus Schulze’s parents by the Stasi, Potsdam, 10.3.1972, in: BStU, Ast. Potsdam, AP 1113/76, Bl. 40.
[14] Ibid.
[15] “Bericht des MfS/HA IX/4 über ein Vorkommnis im Bereich des 34. Grenzregimentes im Raum Falkensee/Ortsteil Falkenhöh, 9.3.1972,” in: BStU, MfS, HA IX Nr. 1038, Bl. 163.
[16] See “Grabstellen-Ausweis für Klaus Schulze,” in: StA Neuruppin Az. 61 Js 39/94 (vormals StA Berlin, Az. 27 Js 134/90), Bd. 1, Bl. 87.
[17] See “Bericht des MfS/KD Nauen zum Vorkommnis an der Staatsgrenze am 7.3.1972 und die dazu bemerkten Diskussionen, 8.4.1972,” in: BStU, Ast. Potsdam, AU 777/73, Bd. 2, Bl. 155.