Berlin wall Border troops (Grenztruppen)

Berlin Wall border troops, German Democratic Republic, National People’s Army. After the defeat of the Nazi regime in 1945, Germany was put under the control of the Allied forces with the U.S. British, French, and Soviets, each having their own zone of occupation. As the iron curtain fell on Eastern European countries under the influence of the Soviet Union, Germany ended up divided into West and East Germany. The city of Berlin as the capital of the country, was also divided into two zones. East Berlin remained part of the Communist German Democratic Republic and West Berlin became part of the Federal Republic of Germany. Gradually as the Cold War was developing, the ideological barrier became a physical one. In 1961, East Germany’s communist leaders decided that a wall should be built around West Berlin to prevent the intrusion of possible agents and spies. And to prevent their citizens fleeing to the west. Until 1961, the control of the border was under the jurisdiction of the German border police. The Grenzpolizei, but from that point on It began to be considered as a military matter. Border troops of the army: The Grenztruppen were formed to protect the inner border with Western Germany, Poland, and Czechoslovakia, and the wall surrounding West Berlin. Since it was part of the army, border troops were organized on the same basis as the rest of the army. Men were recruited from the population between ages 18 to 26, and their service lasted for 18 months. Those who wanted to, could prolong their engagement in order to be promoted into NCO’s or noncommissioned officers. One of the things that attracted young men from East Germany to the border troops, was that they were promised a better education and help in seeking a good civilian job once their service was over. Even though the role of border troops was a popular one, recruiting criteria was very strict. Future soldiers had to be politically correct, as they were to protect the border against the capitalist enemy literally on their doorstep. Those who had even the smallest record of political descent or even those whose closest relatives had showed these traits, were not allowed to join the border troops. Religiousness was also a big drawback in qualification. Another important criteria, was that the potential Bordermen were not residents of areas near the border with West Germany. These criteria were set up because the government didn’t want former Bordermen to help escapees. Those who had close relatives in West Germany were also not considered for the job. The basic training of the border troops was identical to those in the rest of the army. Bordermen were however additionally taught various inspection and patrol skills, observing, dog handling, and even laying mines! Intense training was conducted in order to take their shooting skills to a high level. Every Borderman was obliged to shoot two moving targets at a distance of 200 meters using only four rounds. Such skills prepared them for the task of taking down real-life escapee targets. The main field of training was however political indoctrination as the army didn’t want to have any hesitant shooters in their ranks. More than half of the entire training process was dedicated to the political shaping of the Bordermen. The uniforms and equipment of the border troops were also the same as the rest of the army. Bordermen wore standard stone gray uniforms, with dark green collar signs, and shoulder stripes. On their heads they wore caps or standard East German wide helmets, Which were worn in situations of high alertness. For the equipment, border troops used weapons of Soviet origin made in East Germany. From the rise of the Berlin Wall in 1961, The East German army started to receive modern weapons to replace the old weapons from the World War II era. The standard sidearm of the Bordermen was the nine-millimeter Soviet Makarov, while the main weapon was the MPI-K assault rifle, a copy of the Soviet AK-47 Kalashnikov. Every soldier carried one of these with two magazines of ammunition. There were also IMG-K and IMG-D light machine guns, which were copies of the Soviet RPK and RPD. All of these weapons were in the standard Soviet caliber, 7.62 millimeter, even though the new caliber of 5.45 millimeter appeared later, border troops continued to use old ammunition. Border troops were also equipped with heavy machine guns and RPGs. As an addition to this arsenal of weapons, Border Patrols had German Shepherd dogs specialized in searching for people that were hiding. Observing the borderline, as well as the class enemy on the other side, was achieved with the use of binoculars which were a standard piece of equipment for Bordermen on patrol. Portable radios were also supplied for faster communication. Soldiers on duty on watchtowers had static, more powerful binoculars. These binoculars allowed Bordermen to have a better overview and a secure control over a huge area of the border region. The duties of border troops within the Berlin Wall zone were quite simple. They had to patrol the area around the Berlin ring, and to watch out for any attempt of an illegal crossing from the west, and especially from the east. They also performed the same tasks from the watchtowers. If someone was caught making a violation of the border line, Bordermen were allowed to shoot them down without orders. For this reason many Bordermen were trialed and sentenced after the German unification. Although the pay of border troops was a little bit better than the rest of the army, it was still very low compared to West German standards. Many dissatisfied soldiers planned escape attempts to West Germany. Since the division of Berlin, many were attempted. the most famous being the crossing of soldier Conrad Schumann on August 15th, 1961. Conrad was serving at the border troops, and was on his sentry duty at the line that day. At the time, East Germany just began to build the wall. As he was standing at his sentry post watching his comrades on the patrol walking away from the line. He took the opportunity and ran across the barbed wire to West Berlin. In order to prevent such future incidents from happening, the army established a special protocol. Patrols, sentry posts, and watchtowers were always manned by two or three soldiers. In this way if one decided to run to the west, the other could shoot him. Guard shifts lasted for eight hours, and every soldier had at least one per day. In order to disrupt the pattern and prevent possible escapes, shift hours and patrol paths were prone to changes. Even the names of the soldiers on shift were kept secret. Another way to keep the Bordermen obedient and in strict discipline, was the use of State Police known as the Stasi. Stasi agents in the border troops wore the same uniforms and insignia and were used to gather information from the other side. But also, to inspect the border troops for potential escapees. Every tenth officer, and one in 30 soldiers was in collusion with the Stasi. Even though contact with West German guards was forbidden, and control was strict, Bordermen were making constant contact with their Western counterparts. Exchanging insignia and newspapers. The Berlin wall collapsed on November 9th, 1989. Earlier, soldiers of the border troops had stood bewildered and overwhelmed as thousands of East Germans gathered near the wall. Demanding to get through the checkpoints, a demand, which they soon agreed to. The wall fell down without a single shot fired, and a year later, The Grenztruppen would become disbanded. Subscribe to our channel for more animated history videos! 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Stephen Childs


  1. Germany; "We'll build a wall, it will be a magnificent wall and Germany will pay for it."

  2. Can anyone tell me what is the font of the “subscribe” in the end of the video?

  3. When you have a system that's so messed up that you even have to shoot people from escaping

  4. I was in the US army 75-78. I crossed checkpoint Charlie in a bus with other troops dressed in our class A uniform. We we're on a tour. Back then to get to Berlin one took a train from West German town of helmstiet and only at night. So you crossed East Germany to get to the island of sorts of west Berlin. We we're told if anyone took pictures on the trip all camera's would be confiscated. Another note was that my father was part of the Berlin airlift as a flight line firefighter at Tempelhoff airport w Berlin.

  5. You do a fair job drawing firearms. Showing 2 types of Tommy Gun on the Gurkha episode impressed me! But you really need to learn the difference between an AK47, an AKM, and an AK74; plus who used each one when. true AK47s are a rare relic, it's mostly AKMs. It's like you showing US troops in the War on Terror all with M16A1 and A2 like in Vietnam, instead of M4s etc.

  6. There’s a photo of a East German border troop helping a small child cross the Berlin Wall .

  7. 1989
    East Germans ran across the​ berlin wall
    30​ years later
    Americans​ run​ into Area​51​

  8. Germans using germans to stop germans to come to germany even though it's literally in the same country

  9. Let me try to explain what the Berlin Wall really is. this is not a legacy of communism, as you drive it into your head. it is the reckoning of the German people for what they have done. Russians deserve Germany, I think even the whole of Germany. and the fall of the wall, this is not a victory of the democracies, this is the forgiveness of the Russians for all the pain that Europe caused them. half a century of occupation, only half of Germany, in my opinion, is still small, in comparison with 40 million Soviet lives, 2 million children's lives, children who are not even five years old, children who were burned alive.

  10. Socialist countries build walls to keep people in whilst Capitalist countries build walls to keep people out

  11. If ya think about it the fall of the Berlin wall was the original area 51 raid

  12. class goes on trip to the Berlin Wall
    Girls: “ew there’s so much rubble”
    Me and the boys: 2:50

  13. 4:51 Is funny The guy on left has big binoculars but the guy on the righ has smal ones

  14. "Capitalism isn't perfect. But we've never had to build a wall to keep our people in."

    -John F Kennedy

  15. There's a little fallacy here, West-Berlin never officially has been part of the Federal Republic, it was a neutral Territory under rule of the three western allies.

  16. My mum used to be a lietennant in the NVA

    given that she was in the Armeesportclub (Army Sports Club) and got the rank for winning major turnaments but still

  17. West Berlin never was a part of the BRD. Of course before reunification. For example a lot of young peoples run to Berlin to avoid service in Bundeswehr. West Berlin was free from draft. East was part and capital of DDR.

  18. Traitors are always traitors, no matter the ideology or age, if you target your own people you are already a worthless traitor

  19. In 1963 When My Mom Was 8, She And The Rest Of Her Family Went Over To Berlin For A Day Because Her Father Or My Grandfather, Who Was A Steel Mill Engineer Had A Meeting Their And As They Were In Their Car Crossing The East-West Berlin Border The Gustavo Stopped Them, And Made All Of Them Get Out Of The Car To Be Inspected, They Even Had To Empty And Check My 8 Year Old Mom’s Little Pink Plastic Toy Purse (which only had a few coins and family photos inside) And Then As They Were Being Checked The German Gustavo Brought Out These 5-6 Footlong Mirrors To Check For Any East Berlin “Fugitives” As The Gustavo Called Them, But The Border Check Took Only A Few Minutes And Before They Knew It They Were Back In Their Car Driving Into West Berlin With All The Bright Colorful Shops And Nice Houses Opposed To East Berlin (where my Mom and her family had just been) Where All They Had Were Crumbling Roads, Demolished And Blown Up Houses And Black And Burnt Churches. So My Now 63 Year Old Mom Witnessed East And West Berlin As Well As The Berlin Wall, The Famous 1987 Speech That President Ronald Reagan Said “Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall!” And Then Soon After That, The Destruction Of The Wall Itself.

  20. I grew up in West Berlin during the occupation…..and as a teenager it was always quite a hoot to look through the holes in the wall ( yes the Berlin wall had quite a few peep holes where you could look through, although not climb through ) or step on those platforms that overlooked the wall to the east and just mock the VoPos ( Volkspolizei ) or even throw stones at them ( never hit them though because their towers were too far away )

    And then going on holiday / vacation to the west was always quite an adventure……over 4 hours of driving through the east german part without stopping and getting out ( except on designated rest stops )…and as a kid you had to have a valid passport ( nowadays if you are a child and traveling withing Germany or still the EU you dont need your own passport )

  21. Entree checks must've been a lot easier to pass than you would imagine, my grandpa was at many "montagsdemos", his brother in prison for an attempt to flee the GDR. He still served at the Berlin wall

  22. You have could cut in the famous picture of the ddr soldier „Conrad Schuhmann“ who jumped in uniform in the last second over the Berlin Wall at it Was built to get in the brd.
    Never mind you mentioned him xD

  23. Does this tell you anything about governments beware beware how to make me feel like there should be no government sort of like a every man for himself

  24. The main objective with this wall was: Not allow people from east run to west, USSR needed slaves. And it's not a political speech of mine, in fact, USSR used that country site as resources fountain, great part went to USSR, and people were more poor, much more poor than the west one.

  25. Love it! I portray East Grman soldiers for Living History events,You sell the videos to this story?

  26. One thing I appreciate about this channel is the very strict attention to detail regarding military uniforms. Seriously; these guys do their homework.

  27. I learned that at first they were ordered to fire warning shots but as more and more Germans kept jumping the wall and crossing the "death line" and ignored the warning shots that's when they were ordered to just shoot on site.

  28. Ronald Reagan and David hasselhof were very instrumental in bringing down the wall. Instrumental?….huh huh

  29. Same as what's going on in Korea. I fucking hate communism! The line from the game red orchestra is true, "communism is a red plague…"

  30. East Berliner:I want to have a better life. I'm going to the west
    Nikita Khrushchev: I'm going to stop you right there

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