Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Today in 1961: Defection of Conrad Schuman

I remember seeing this photo when I was a kid, just when I was learning what the Berlin Wall was. I saw that tangle of barbed wire and I remember thinking, "that's not a wall."

I remember listening to the news, watching the TV, and seeing the big color images in the International Herald Tribune when the Berlin Wall was being dismantled - just a few years after having learned what it was.

About a month ago, Iconic Photos wrote up a short article about the above photo, taken on August 15, 1961:

August 15 1961. It was two days after East Germany sealed off its border with the Berlin Wall. The 19-year old Hans Conrad Schumann was guarding the construction of Berlin Wall, then in its third day of construction, at the corner of Ruppinerstraße and Bernauerstraße.

At that stage of construction, the Berlin Wall was only a low barbed wire fence. For hours, the nervous young non-commissioned officer paced back and forth, his Kalashnikov slung over his shoulder, smoking one cigarette after another. Around 4 p.m., as the people on the western side shouted Komm rüber! (“come over”), Schumann jumped the barbed wire and was driven away at high speeds by an awaiting West Berlin police car.
The site also discusses some photographic points, pieced together from interviews with the photographer, Peter Leibing, and also discuss what happened with Conrad Schuman afterward. They also post the original, uncropped, photo.

Head on over to Iconic Photos to see more.

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