Bockleben, Prague – On 13 August, on the day of the anniversary of construction of the Berlin Wall, the German Union of the Associations of the Victims of Communist Tyranny (UOKG) together with other initiatives (Green Belt) unveiled another new memorial to the victims of the Iron Curtain.
Almost 40 years ago, on 15 October 1978, 20-year-old former GDR citizen Rainer Burgis tried to escape to the West near Mechau-Ritzleben. He was killed by a lethal directional antipersonnel mine (Selbstschussautomaten SM 70) of the Eastern German Border Guards. The new memorial is built from original 4.5 metres long concrete pillars which protected the inner German border against refugees.
The Platform of European Memory and Conscience welcomes our member organisation initiative led by Mr Michael M. Schulz (UOKG).
Since 2016 the Platform has launched a broader initiative which brought together, for the first time, two large pan-European non-governmental organisations dealing with the legacy of 20th century totalitarian rule – one focusing on historical research, commemoration and education, the other dealing with nature protection and development of soft tourism. The interests of both networks – the Platform of European Memory and Conscience and the European Green Belt Initiative – merge along the former Iron Curtain, the deadly barrier which divided Europe in the 20th century. The conferences discussed future cooperation among the two organisations in preserving the warning lesson of the violent division of the continent. The goal is to plan the construction of a string of decentralised memorials to the thousands of civilian refugees who met their death while trying to escape from oppression and totalitarianism to freedom and democracy. These memorials, sites of European conscience, would become an integral part of the soft tourism concepts aimed at promoting the preservation of the unique natural ecosystems and habitats along the former East-West divide in Europe.
In 2016 the Platform inaugurated a memorial dedicated to Hartmut Tautz in the Slovak capital Bratislava.
Photo by Helga Rässler