World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Heinz Sokolowski


Heinz Sokolowski

Heinz Sokolowski
Born (1917-12-17)17 December 1917
Frankfurt an der Oder
Died 25 November 1965(1965-11-25) (aged 47)
Berlin, Germany
Cause of death Shot by a guard whilst attempting to leave East Berlin
Body discovered Border by Clara-Zetkin-Straße, known as Dorotheenstraße
Monuments White Crosses, Berlin
Known for Being shot while escaping from East Berlin
Memorial to Heinz Sokolowski

Heinz Sokolowski (17 Dec 1917 in Frankfurt an der Oder – 25 Nov 1965 in Berlin) was a casualty of the Cold War at the Berlin Wall. In addition to being a victim of the Wall, Sokolowski was also a political prisoner; East German border troops shot him at the wall between the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag during an escape attempt.


  • Life 1
  • Escape attempt 2
  • Memorial 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Sokolowski was born during the First World War in Frankfurt (Oder). Following primary school, he apprenticed as a tailor; he then attended a trade school, where he completed his education. He left trade school in order to become a journalist with the Frankfurt Oder Zeitung. He was drafted into the Wehrmacht, and fought in various places; he was also used as a war correspondent. He was captured in Russia and was won over to Communism in an Antifa working group.

When Sokolowski returned from captivity in 1946, he moved into the Soviet sector of Berlin, where he worked as a freelance journalist. In the following year, he married and moved with his wife and newborn daughter to Prenzlauer Berg. The marriage lasted until 1951. He worked for the Soviets until his arrest on 12 February 1953. A military tribunal found him guilty of espionage and sentenced him first to twenty years, then to ten, to be served in a labor camp in the Soviet Union. The Soviets handed him over to the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) in 1956; they held him prisoner until 13 February 1963. During this time, he fell ill with tuberculosis.

Escape attempt

After Sokolowski's release from prison, he worked as an elevator operator in East Berlin. He applied to leave East Germany, but was not approved for emigration. He made contacts in West Berlin in 1964, bringing him to the attention of the Stasi. After his dismissal in May 1965, he began in earnest to plan his escape, which began at five o'clock in the morning on 25 November 1965.

That morning, he neared the border by Clara-Zetkin-Straße, which is known today as Dorotheenstraße. A border guard saw him and fired a warning shot, but Sokolowski failed to respond. Other guards opened fire on the refugee, who had by this time reached the last wall, topped with barbed wire. Sokolowski was shot in the abdomen and died of his injuries on the way to the hospital.


The original Sokolowski White Cross
The new Sokolowski White Cross

A three-meter-high cross was erected at the corner of Ebertstraße and Scheidemannstraße on 13 August 1966 in memory of Heinz Sokolowski. Inscribed upon this cross are his dates of birth and death and the legend "Nach 7 Jahren DDR-Haft erschossen auf der Flucht". Sokolowski is also remembered with a White Cross on the Reichstagufer.


External links

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.