34 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, we commemorate Erna Kelm. Born on July 21, 1908 in Frankfurt (Oder), drowned on June 11, 1962 in the Havel river in the stretch between Sacrow (Potsdam-Stadt district) and Berlin-Zehlendorf.

Her last position was as the manager of a special care facility in Sacrow (Potsdam).

Her body was discovered floating in the Havel near Berlin-Zehlendorf on the morning of June 11, 1962. Everything indicates that she tried to swim across the Havel to West Berlin as she carried her East German identification card and other documents in a plastic bag strapped to her body and wore a life jacket under her clothes. The investigations of the West Berlin police concluded that Erna Kelm drowned while attempting to escape. Her body was transferred to Potsdam at the request of her relatives. In West Berlin there were several press reports about her death.

When the Federal Ministry for All-German Affairs published a brochure to mark the first anniversary of the construction of the Wall, it mentioned Erna Kelm’s fatal attempt to escape as part of the injustices committed at the Wall, which led to her name being added to the official lists of fatalities. As a result, the memory of the fate of this 53-year-old, who died at the border with West Berlin, will be kept alive.

Contact between the family and the Berlin Wall Foundation first came about in August 2012 during an excursion to the Berlin Wall Memorial with the students of her granddaughter Mrs. Anja Kelm, who had discovered her grandmother’s name in the »Window of Remembrance«.


Wikipedia –

Stiftung Berliner Mauer –

(Photo: Erna Kelm, in August 1961, private)

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