In Memory of Silvio Proksch

35 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, we commemorate Silvio Proksch, born in East Berlin on 3rd March 1962 and shot in the Pankow III cemetery, whilst approaching the rear ‘security’ wall of the Berlin Wall on the border of Berlin-Reinickendorf, on 25th December 1983.

Silvio Proksch had completed an apprenticeship as a bricklayer after school and was working in a carpentry workshop.  He and his brother still lived with his parents in the East Berlin district of Pankow.  His nine other siblings had already left home.

On 25th December 1983, the two heavily intoxicated brothers left their parents’ apartment at around 7 pm.  Silvio Proksch told his brother that he wanted to flee to West Berlin, although he had never previously expressed any intention of fleeing and had not made any escape preparations.

On the way to the Pankow III cemetery, bordering the rear security wall (the Hinterlandmauer), Silvio’s brother tried in vain to dissuade him from escaping.  They parted after crossing the Berlin-Pankow Bürgerpark.  Proksch then climbed over the cemetery fence.  At 7.30 pm, before reaching the rear security wall, he triggered a border fence alarm.  A border guard first fired two warning shots and shouted at Proksch to stop.  Proksch continued towards the wall.  The border guard then opened fire.  Two shots pierced Silvio’s right hip artery and his femoral vein.  He lay for a long time without medical help and bled to death.  He was already dead when he arrived in hospital at around 9:15 pm. The marksman who shot him was awarded the Bronze Medal of Merit of the Border Troops of the German Democratic Republic.

Silvio’s brother heard the shots and informed his family. One of Proksch’s sisters filed a missing person’s report with the criminal investigation department in Berlin-Pankow on 28th December 1983. The Ministry for State Security interrogated several of Silvio Proksch’s relatives, denied Proksch’s death, and imprisoned his brother for petty offenses for over two years.

It was not until August 1990, after numerous complaints and petitions, that the GDR military prosecutor finally informed the family of the events of 25th December 1983.  On Boxing Day 1983 Silvio Proksch’s body had been impounded by GDR state security and taken to the military forensic institute in Bad Saarow.  Silvio Proksch is not recorded in any GDR death register, and he remains ‘missing without trace’ since 30th December 1983.


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