Leap into FreedomAfter three months' training in Dresdenhe was posted to harbed non-commissioned officers' college in Potsdamafter which he volunteered for service in Berlin. At that time and place, the wall was only a single coil of concertina wire. Schumann tren 75 over the barbed wire while dropping his PPSh submachine gun and was east german soldier jumping barbed wire driven away from the scene by the West Berlin police. West German photographer Peter Leibing photographed Schumann's escape. His east german soldier jumping barbed wire has since become an iconic image of the Cold War era and featured at the beginning geerman the Disney film Night Crossing. The scene, including Schumann's preparations, has also been filmed on mm film from the same perspective. Schumann was yerman permitted to travel from West Berlin to the main territory of West Germanywhere he settled in Bavaria.
When the East German soldier jumped over the barbed wire to West Germany in
Germany had been divided into four occupation zones in the aftermath of World War II, each administered by an allied nation: France, Britain, the U. The Soviet zone completely encircled the capital of Berlin, which was further divided among the four powers. The portion of the city controlled by France, Britain and the U. East Germans fled the new regime in droves, increasingly through West Berlin, with 2, escaping each day by August To stem the bleeding of economic power and educated professionals, East Germany rapidly sealed the border with barbed wire barriers, which would later be fortified into the Berlin Wall.
Two days after the erection of the barriers, year-old East German police officer Conrad Schumann was assigned to guard a section at the corner of Bernauer Strasse and Ruppiner Strasse. There, he nervously paced back and forth, smoking cigarettes and occasionally pushing down the two-foot-high coil of barbed wire. His behavior drew the attention of press photographers covering the border including year-old Peter Leibing, who watched Schumann for more than an hour.
With the other guards distracted by a gathering crowd, Schumann swapped out his loaded submachine gun for an unloaded and thus lighter one. A cameraman recorded a 16mm film of the jump. Leibing captured a single frame of Schumann soaring over the barbed wire, legs outstretched and head down in determination. Over 2, more would follow his example in the coming decades. Twenty years after his jump, Schumann stands before the iconic photo by Peter Leibing.
Though his moment of daring won him a degree of freedom, Schumann became lonely and isolated, only able to communicate with his family through letters — which were monitored and dictated by the East German secret police, who wanted to lure him back for punishment.
When the Berlin Wall finally fell, Schumann was able to reunite with his family and friends, but was shunned by some for his desertion. In , without leaving a note, he walked into the woods near his home and hanged himself. He never earned a cent from the photo. A sculpture based on Leibing's photo of Schumann is unveiled in Berlin to celebrate the 20th anniversary of reunification. At midnight on Aug. My nerves were at a breaking point.
I was very afraid. I took off, jumped, and into the car… in three, four seconds, it was all over. He settled in Bavaria, started a family and worked on an Audi assembly line for 27 years. A desperate effort to save children from the Holocaust. The old-school lumberjacks who felled giant trees with axes. Antique mourning jewelry contained the hair of the deceased.
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