Hans Martin Plüschke (* March 12, 1939 ; † March 15, 1998 ) was a former officer of the Federal Border Police (BGS), whose murder in 1998 caused a stir throughout Germany. In 1962, Plüschke shot and killed Rudi Arnstadt , a captain of the GDR's border troops, in an incident on the inner-German border . The West German side stopped their investigation into the Arnstadt death case with the knowledge that Plüschke had shot him in self-defense and kept Plüschke's name a secret. In the GDR, on the other hand, state propaganda elevated the man who had been shot to a martyr .
After the end of the German division, Plüschke made his identity public in May 1993 and again in August 1997. As a self-driving taxi operator, he was found on March 15, 1998 not far from the place of death in Arnstadt near Wiesenfeld with the same fatal gunshot wound that he had inflicted on Arnstadt. The crime against Plüschke remained unsolved.
The border incident
At the border section near Wiesenfeld in the Rhön , pioneers of the National People's Army of the GDR had been busy building new border barriers since the beginning of August 1962 . On the GDR side, a company of GDR border troops under Captain Arnstadt monitored the work. A border guard had already used the situation to desert . A few days later, a pioneer followed him with a new Soviet-style artillery tractor . On the West German side, in addition to a BGS train , representatives of the Hessian customs and financial authorities in civilian clothes, soldiers from the US Army and onlookers observed the construction process.
On August 14, Plüschke and a comrade, BGS captain Meißner, were assigned to patrol directly along the border between Setzelbach and Wiesenfeld. At one point the border did not run in a straight line, but, in contrast to the rest of the course, jumped a few meters to the west over a length of around 50 meters, while the GDR Postenweg continued straight ahead. The boundary stone that marked the northern end of the narrow strip that was created in this way was not visible in the tall grain, because there the strip was illegally plowed by a Hessian farmer. With Meissner at the head along the border, the three of them were called at about 11:05 a.m. from behind, about 12 meters away, from Arnstadt, who had jumped up from the ground. While Plüschke saw Arnstadt pull his pistol and bring it to Meißner, a shot was fired, which Plüschke heard whistling past. Meissner fell to the ground. In the opinion that Arnstadt would want to shoot Meißner a second time, Plüschke tore his FN rifle off his shoulder and fired a German shot at Arnstadt from the hip . Arnstadt fell back, hit. A second shot was fired almost at the same time. Immediately afterwards, a brief exchange of fire began. Those involved on both sides, who quickly took cover in the high grain, were unharmed. Plüschke's shot hit Arnstadt between the bridge of his nose and his right eye. Arnstadt died while being transported to Geisa .
Investigations and reactions in West Germany
An hour after the incident, criminalists from Hünfeld began investigating the scene. There was no collaboration with the murder investigation commission of the People's Police (MUK) from Suhl , who arrived two hours later and was investigating GDR territory within earshot . The members of the MUK demonstratively ignored corresponding offers from Huenfeld criminalists and BGS officers. However, this inferred from the conversations that the GDR investigators had among themselves that Plüschke's shot had been fatal. The public prosecutor's office in Fulda initiated an investigation into the unnatural death .
For the Fulda public prosecutor's office, the decisive question was whether the BGS patrol had violated the inner-German border. In that case, Arnstadt would have been right in his approach. According to the investigation report by the criminal police, the patrol had moved to FRG territory when Arnstadt fired a "probably targeted shot" at Meißner. Further investigations by the BGS corroborated this finding. Plüschke's shot at Arnstadt was therefore considered self-defense. On October 8, 1962, the chief public prosecutor in Fulda closed the investigation against him. In December, the unsuccessful preliminary investigations into unknown GDR border guards who had shot were stopped.
At the end of 1964, a refugee police officer who had witnessed the incident in August 1962 as a member of the border troops of the GDR, testified in detail at the central registration office in Salzgitter about Arnstadt's death. After that Arnstadt had fired neither first nor at all, but his escort Roßner. The Fulda public prosecutor's office, which had been notified, showed little interest in the news, which could have led to a resumption of the investigation, which had been suspended in 1962. It was not until 1966 that, following a warning from the registration office, she opened an investigation against Roßner, only to close it shortly afterwards “because of the absence of the accused”.
The following day, regional and national media reported on the incident based on a brief press release from the BGS. A few days later, the public death of Peter Fechter at the Berlin Wall forever overshadowed the border incident near Wiesenfeld in West German perception.
Investigations and consequences in the GDR
In the GDR, the Supreme Public Prosecutor's Office in Berlin conducted the investigation. The results of the investigation showed that on August 14, Arnstadt had turned away BGS members at the later scene of the crime because of a border violation. Then he and his escort Roßner waited at this point to arrest a BGS member who crossed the border again. When a BGS patrol crossed the border line to the GDR again, Arnstadt called them. When she did not react, Roßner fired the machine pistol into the air as ordered, and Arnstadt fired a warning shot into the ground with his pistol . The BGS members then tore their weapons from their shoulders and fired them specifically at Arnstadt and Roßner and withdrew to West German territory under mutual fire protection . Arnstadt had been shot by the BGS member Koch, who was further away. Then the short shootout developed. The investigations remained without legal consequences. They were not enough to bring charges against BGS members Meißner and Koch, who were known by name in the incident. The GDR authorities never determined the name of the shooter Plüschke.
The GDR only announced the incident publicly on the evening of August 15. Deviating from the internal investigation results, Horst Sindermann , the head of the agitation department at the Central Committee of the SED , announced on GDR television that BGS members, apparently “drunk”, had “marched” at the border with company strength. There they would have provoked the GDR border guards after "inflammatory speeches", would have "constantly" gone to the border and finally crossed it with the three of them. After a call and a warning shot by the GDR border guards, Rudi Arnstadt was then murdered "from the territory of the GDR" by BGS members with "targeted volleys".
The SED propaganda ensured that Sindermann's version became the basis of public perception in the GDR. The incident experienced imaginative embellishments and exaggerations in the press reports published from August 16. Arnstadt was said to have been “cowardly and deliberately murdered” in cold blood by BGS members in GDR territory when he tried to speak to them. “Agents” would have given out “plenty of alcohol” to the later murderers and then “ordered” the crime. It was a "targeted provocation of the Bonn Ultras", those responsible were " Adenauer , Lübke and Strauss ", who belonged to a "regime of war provocateurs , bomb throwers and murderers", and with the "planned assassination " an "armed clash." of unpredictable scope ”wanted to bring about.
Until the end of the GDR, written accounts as well as mourning and annual commemorations depicted Arnstadt as folk heroes and martyrs. This included public assurances such as the SED central organ Neues Deutschland had already disseminated on August 16: “… we hurl [our hatred] in the faces of the murderers with the holy oath: The German working class will not forget! The murderers will not escape their punishment. "
On August 16, 1962, a border troop major took the initiative for an unofficial exchange of information with the BGS. He met a Plüschkes supervisor at the beech mill , which was right on the border. In the hour-long conversation, the BGS officer rejected the claim that Arnstadt had been shot by Meißner, avoiding mentioning Plüschke's name. He got the impression that “the members of the border troops are artificially stirring up hatred against the BGS” and that there may be an intention to “shoot down” Meißner.
From September 1962 a westward-facing plaque announced at the scene of the incident: “At this point, Captain Rudi Arnstadt ... was murdered by mercenaries of West German militarism. His murderers, members of the BGS dept. Hünfeld, will not escape their just punishment ”.
Plüschke's further life
After Plüschke left the BGS in 1970, he built a taxi company in Hünfeld and started a family. He did not believe that his name could be successfully kept secret and feared an act of revenge on the part of the GDR. He carried a gun and was on guard. When he appeared for the first time in December 1986 in a television program of the Hessischer Rundfunk under the title When the border came. Witnesses of the time report anonymously about the border incident, and his fear was evident, although his face had been made unrecognizable with a black bar.
Death in a united Germany
In August 1990, in view of the impending German reunification , Plüschke asked the public prosecutor in Fulda through his lawyer whether he was about to face criminal prosecution. He had been sentenced to “25 years imprisonment” "in absentia" by a military court in the GDR and wanted to know whether the sentence would continue to exist. He could not give the date, let alone the file number, of the conviction. The explorations came to nothing. A case regarding Plüschke that the Meiningen public prosecutor had set up in September 1990 apparently remained unprocessed and could no longer be found in March 1993. No investigation file, not even one of the secret ones, mentioned the name Plüschke until then. In the GDR archives there is no evidence of a conviction as Plüschke had indicated.
On May 17, 1993, Plüschke left the anonymity that protected him and confessed, sitting at the kitchen table in his apartment, to have been the BGS shooter in an episode of the RTL television series Explosiv - Das Magazin . Because the contribution concealed the fact that Plüschke had been awarded self-defense by the court, he felt “insubstantially equated with murderers ” and, through his lawyer, asserted a claim for damages against the broadcaster because of a violation of his personal rights.
Plüschke's appearance remained hidden from the former members of the border troops and the state security organized in the Society for Legal and Humanitarian Support . In 1996, on their initiative, the lawyer and former MfS officer Frank Osterloh reported the BGS border officer Koch to the Berlin public prosecutor as a shooter. With a mandate from Arnstadt's daughter, Osterloh was given access to the West German investigation files in June 1996. This is how he and his clients found out about Plüschke's role. Osterloh complained to the Berlin public prosecutor's office about the “lack of important evidence” and obtained a testimony from a GDR border guard. This prompted the public prosecutor to start investigations into the Arnstadt death case.
She transferred it to Meiningen to be responsible. The local public prosecutor also believed that it was not responsible because, in their opinion, the fatal shot had been fired on Hessian territory, and in December 1997 handed the case over to the Fulda public prosecutor. Another case concerning Arnstadt's death had been received there by the Potsdam Public Prosecutor's Office . With reference to the investigation result from 1962, which in their opinion had not been changed by an interrogation of Roßner and the evaluation of GDR files, the Fulda public prosecutor discontinued the proceedings at the beginning of May 1998.
In the meantime, Plüschke had made another public statement in August 1997 on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the incident in the newspaper Die Welt and in the hessenschau , a regional television magazine of the Hessian broadcasting company . In the television report he described his self-defense situation behind the wheel of his taxi and reported on his years of fear that if his person were exposed, he would not only endanger himself but also his family.
On March 15, 1998, while working as a self-driving taxi operator, Plüschke was killed just under three kilometers from Wiesenfeld by a shot in the head above his right eye. The murderer (s) hadn't wanted Plüschke's purse, because it remained untouched. Rather, the location and the fatal injury indicated a connection with the border incident. This gave rise to assumptions in the press, as discussed in the Superillu under the heading “Is the Stasi still alive?”. Despite the offer of a high reward and a contribution in the Sat.1 program wanted files , the crime could not be resolved. The intensive investigation did not reveal any evidence of an act of revenge.
Plüschke was buried on March 20, 1998 in Hünfeld with great public sympathy. He left behind his wife and five children.
- Bernd Weisener and Daniela Sonntag 2010: “An enemy becomes a friend?” ZDF documentary
- Rainer Erices and Jan Schönfelder 2011: Two dead in the Cold War. MDR
- Jan Schönfelder, Rainer Erices : Rudi Arnstadt is a matter of death. Between education and propaganda. Bussert & Stadeler publishing house, Jena, Quedlinburg 2012, ISBN 978-3-942115-19-3 .
- Herbert Böckel: The double death in the shadow of the border. Self-published 2012, ISBN 978-3-00-037161-5 .
- 40 years ago: Shots at the border and the murder of Hans Plüschke Osthessen-News on August 12, 2002
- Göran Schattauer: CRIME : An eye for an eye. In: Focus Online. June 13, 2009, accessed December 18, 2014 .
- Still unclear today: Who shot Hans Plüschke? Hessian / Lower Saxony General from August 2, 2012
- Quotation from the investigation report of the criminal police to the public prosecutor, see Schönfelder / Erices (lit.), p. 39
- Quotation from the reasoning in the letter to the registration office, see Schönfelder / Erices (Lit.), p. 49
- Sindermann quotes in Schönfelder / Erices (lit.), p. 55
- Quotations from Schönfelder / Erices (Lit.), pp. 60–62
- Quotation in Schönfelder / Erices (Lit.), p. 58
- Information about the beech mill in a presentation of the book Werner Schwanfelder: Grenzgänger. From the dead zone to living space . ( Memento of the original from July 21, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Kindle Edition , 2011
- Quotation from the Blums report in Schönfelder / Erices (Lit.), p. 26 f.
- Wording of the table in Schönfelder / Erices (Lit.), p. 62
- See Schönfelder / Erices (lit.), p. 104, on the case that remained at the Meiningen public prosecutor's office.
- See Schönfelder / Erices (lit.), p. 122 f. The authors question whether the conviction of a stranger "in absentia" would have been possible at all.
- Quotation in Schönfelder / Erices (lit.), p. 123
- For the following see Schönfelder / Erices (Lit.), 112 f.
- Quotation in Schönfelder / Erices (Lit.), 125 f.
- Archived copy ( Memento of the original from April 21, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.
- The authors in an interview. “We looked behind the propaganda facades”. ( Memento of the original from August 17, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. mdr.de, August 10, 2012
|ALTERNATIVE NAMES||Plüschke, Hans Martin (full name)|
|BRIEF DESCRIPTION||German border guard, shot GDR border guards and murder victims themselves|
|DATE OF BIRTH||March 12, 1939|
|DATE OF DEATH||March 15, 1998|