Man believed killed in attempt to escape East Germany is alive
BERLIN – For 31 years, Rene Seiptius had been counted among the thousands of people killed while trying to escape the confines of communist East Germany.
As it turns out, he was alive all along.
“I can’t explain how it could have happened,” Seiptius told Reuters on Monday.
Seiptius first attempted to cross the deadly strip of land that once separated East Germany from the West in 1981, when he was 17.
He and two friends managed to tiptoe past a row of minefields but they triggered fire from an automatic spring gun. One of Seiptius’ crew died, and their cover was blown.
They were quickly arrested by border guards. But records kept by East Germany’s notorious secret police, known as the Stasi, show Seiptius as having died during that botched escape attempt.
“I’ve been alive for the last 48 years,” he said.
Eventually his name found its way to a list of all the people who had died along Germany’s East-West border compiled by a museum in Berlin.