East Geman border guard: Let him go. Essay
This man’s former superiors, both his commanding officers and his government, emphasized that, whatever happened, it was better to kill a man than let him escape across the border. The border guard’s government pardoned the use of deadly force against any man attempting to commit a felony within a border guard’s …show more content…
There was some shame in killing a person, however. The government removed the offending guard’s name from the service record, and the guard did not wear army clothes or insignias to avoid societal ostracism. The government had a blanket media blackout on any escapee deaths along the border. In an almost Orwellian fashion, all evidence of killed escapees’ existences were expunged, their families told they had committed suicide.
Besides covering up the killings, the East German government also refused to prosecute guards who killed escapees, even in instances of excessive force. Though East German law permitted use of deadly force only when an escapee was joined by multiple perpetrators or tried to escape using “dangerous means,” it was an unwritten rule that guards should shoot and kill escapees rather than allow them to escape. This law descended from both commanding officers’ insistence on killing escapees to prevent escape and the government’s refusal to ever charge offenders. Even though there were provisions on the books allowing killings only in certain instances, parts of the law legitimately came from these unwritten rules.
Under a positivist theory of law, the unwritten parts of East German law were just as legitimate as the law “on