23 August 1902|
|Died||22 August 1961
Lazarus Hospital, Berlin
|Cause of death||Leapt from third floor apartment window on Bernauer Strasse to reach West Berlin|
|Body discovered||48 Bernauer Strasse
|Resting place||Urnenfriedhof Seestrasse Berlin-Wedding
|Known for||First casualty at the Berlin Wall|
After World War II, Berlin was divided in four Allied sectors. While the street and the sidewalk of the Bernauer Strasse lay in the French sector of West Berlin, the frontage of the buildings on the southern side lay in the Soviet sector of East Berlin. Until 13 August 1961, the day the Berlin Wall was built, Siekmann crossed the sector’s border just by leaving her house.
Immediately after the border between East and West Berlin was closed on 13 August 1961, 50 households at the Bernauer Strasse fled to the West. On 18 August 1961, Walter Ulbricht ordered the East German border troops to brick up the entrances and windows on the groundfloor of the houses on the southern side of the street. Members of the Combat Groups of the Working Class and police controlled every person who tried to enter the houses and the residents were subject to rigid controls, even in the hallways. Many residents of such tenements still fled to West Berlin: residents of the upper floors were often rescued by jumping-sheets of the West Berlin fire department.
On 21 August, the entrance and windows of 48 Bernauer Strasse were barred. In the early morning of 22 August, Siekmann, living on the third floor, threw eiderdowns and some possessions down onto the street and jumped out of the window of her apartment before the firefighters were able to open the jumping-sheet. She fell on the sidewalk and was severely injured. Siekmann died shortly after on her way to the Lazarus Hospital, thus becoming the first casualty at the Berlin Wall.
Siekmann was buried at the Seestraße cemetery on 29 August; in September a memorial was erected at 48 Bernauer Strasse. The memorial was often visited by foreign politicians (including Robert Kennedy and Archbishop Makarios) to honour the victims of the Berlin Wall.
The houses at the southern Bernauer Strasse were torn down in 1963 and replaced by a concrete wall.
- Biography at Chronik der Mauer.de (German)
- Die Erste und der Letzte Die Welt, 13 August 2010 (German)
- Sprung in den Tod Deutschlandradio Kultur (German)
- Die Berliner Mauer Focus, 19 October 2009 (German)
- Forscher korrigieren in neuer Studie Zahl der Mauertoten Berliner Morgenpost 8 August 2008 (German)