General Heinz Kessler was responsible for the former East German shoot-to-kill policy to stop people from escaping to the West. Until the end, a GDR devotee died aged 97 in Berlin in 2017. Kessler, a devout supporter of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), had attended Communist Party gatherings until a few years ago. He joined the German Communist Party (DKP) in 2009 and ran for state office in Berlin as a DKP candidate in 2011. East Germanys defense minister
He abandoned the Wehrmacht during its march into the Soviet Union in July 1941 and joined the Red Army. In 1945, he returned to the Soviet occupation zone in Germany, and in 1956, he was named Chief of the East German Armed Forces’ Air Forces and Air Defense.
In the following years, Kessler rose to become a government minister and a member of the Communist Politburo, and a friend of East German leader Erich Honecker. Kessler was the GDR’s last defense minister from 1985 until 1989. He was responsible for the shoot-to-kill policy to prevent people from leaving the communist East for democratic West Germany. East Germanys defense minister
Eulenspiegel Verlagsgruppe published Kessler’s book “Without the Wall, There Would Have Been War.” Kessler argued that the people killed at the border had inflicted danger upon themselves. Hundreds of people are believed to have died at the East German border, with estimates varying wildly from 139 to 750 over the 28 years of its existence from 1961 until it was dismantled.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Kessler was arrested in Berlin in 1991 following speculation that he would flee the country. Honecker escaped to the Chilean Embassy in Moscow the same year. In 1993, Kessler was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for incitement to manslaughter for his role in the deaths of people who tried to flee the GDR. He was released after only two years in jail. East Germanys defense minister
Kessler filed an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, claiming that his actions were following GDR law and meant to preserve the existence of the GDR. However, his appeal was denied mainly because the GDR’s policies violated international human rights.
The following personal documents for Heinz Keßler were auctioned in 2021. East Germanys defense minister