Not many people know who Chris Gueffroy was, but we thought somebody should mention the last person to be shot and to die at the Berlin Wall with all the Berlin Wall celebrations.
Chris Gueffroy was the last person to be shot and killed while escaping to West Berlin across the Berlin Wall between Treptow and Neukölln.
In an area where you can only find factory and transport companies and, occasionally, a Lenin statue. There, you can find the Chris Gueffroy memorial. But, when he tried to cross the Berlin Wall, that area was completely different from what it is now, like most of Berlin.
But who was Chris Gueffroy?
Chris Gueffroy was born in Pasewalk on June 21st, 1968. He moved to Berlin with his mother and brother when he was five years old. While growing up, he attended the youth sports school SC Dynamo Berlin where he trained in gymnastics. After school, he worked as a waiter at the hotel at the Berlin-Schönefeld Airport. There, he had discussions with his superiors about the political situation of the GDR and his desire to leave the country.
At the end of 1988, he learned that he was drafted to serve in the National Peoples Army, and he decided it was time to leave. Chris Gueffroy got together with his friend Christian Gaudian, and on the night of February 5th, 1989, they decided it was time to leave the GDR.
They chose this day because they thought the Schießbefehl, the standing order to shoot anyone who attempted to cross the wall, had been lifted. But it wasn’t. If they tried to go over the wall, they could be shot.
And that was precisely what happened.
On February 5th, 1989, they went to the East and West Berlin border. They managed to go through all the barriers until the last metal lattice fence, where the two were discovered and came under fire from the NVA border troops.
Chris Gueffroy was hit in the chest twice and died in the border strip. Christian Gaudian was severely injured and ended up being arrested. In May 1989, he was imprisoned for three years for attempted illegal border crossing of the first degree. In September 1989, he was released on bail and was transferred to West Berlin in October of the same year.
If he only knew that everything would change a few months later.
Today the area around where he died is where people go cycling on the Berlin Wall Trail. When we were there, it was a beautiful autumn Sunday, and it was filled with bikes and people walking.
There were even boats on the canal. Something completely different from when Chris Gueffroy tried to jump a wall for more freedom.
A little over a month after Chris Gueffroy’s death, Winfried Freudenberg died in an improvised balloon aircraft crash by which he crossed the border into West Berlin on March 8, 1989.
He was the last person to die crossing the Berlin Wall.
Chris Gueffroy was the last person to be killed by using firearms at the Berlin Wall, and his memorial can be visited next to the street that carries his name between Neukölln and Treptow.
The monument is easy to find, and you can easily follow the smell of coffee from a nearby factory. You can see it in the pictures here.
A Memorial to Chris Gueffroy – The last victim of the Berlin Wall
KGA Holunderbusch 48, 12437 Berlin