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GDR border guards shoot man during boat trip in Teltow Canal

On 15 June 1965, Hermann Döbler (42) and his companion Elke Märtens (21) are discovered by two border guards during a boat trip on the Teltow Canal, part of which belongs to the GDR. Döbler intends to turn around at a water stop and return to Wannsee, the starting point of the excursion. What he doesn’t know, however, is that the official border already runs a few hundred metres in front of said barrier. After a few warning shots from the border troops, Döbler and Märtens begin to wave desperately to prevent anything worse from happening, but this is interpreted by the soldiers as a provocation and leads to them shooting down the two boat occupants. Hermann Döbler succumbs to his wounds while still in the boat, while Elke Märtens survives, seriously injured by a grazing shot to the head. While Willy Brandt calls the crime a cold-blooded murder, GDR officials gloat over accusations against Döbler, who allegedly planned attacks on the Berlin Wall and is known as a West Berlin refugee helper. After German reunification, the Berlin public prosecutor’s office brought charges against the border guards, which ended in a 6-year prison sentence for the shooter.

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