Günter Litfin

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Günter Litfin
Günter Litfin
Günter Litfin
Born (1937-02-19)19 February 1937
Died 24 August 1961(1961-08-24) (aged 24)
Spandauer Schifffahrtskanal
Cause of death Shot by a guard whilst attempting to leave East Berlin
Body discovered Spandauer Schifffahrtskanal
52°31′39″N 13°22′25″E / 52.527628°N 13.373685°E / 52.527628; 13.373685 (Site of Günter Litfin memorial)
Resting place Saint Hedwig Cemetery
52°32′46″N 13°27′38″E / 52.54619°N 13.4605°E / 52.54619; 13.4605 (St. Hedwig Cemetery in Berlin-Weissensee)
Monuments Sandkrugbrücke, Invalidenstraße, Berlin
Residence Weißensee, Berlin
Known for First person to be shot whilst attempting to escape across the Berlin Wall
Political party Christian Democratic Union

Günter Litfin (19 January 1937 – 24 August 1961) was the second victim at the Berlin Wall, and the first to succumb to gunshots.

A tailor from the borough of Weißensee, like his father, he was a member of the illegal local branch of the West German Christian Democrats. Litfin was already working in the West, near the Zoological Garden, and had already found a flat in the western part of the city. Even on 12 August, one day before the first barbed wire fences were built, he had driven to Charlottenburg with his brother, to furnish his new flat. His intention to escape East Germany was abruptly halted the next morning, as road blocks had already been built. Therefore, around 4pm on 24 August, he undertook the escape attempt that would prove fatal to him.

Starting from Humboldthafen, a small harbour in the River Spree, his plan was to swim through a small canal branching off from the river westwards. However, upon crossing the railway bridge that constituted the border, he was discovered by officers of the transportation police, and was ordered to swim back. He lifted his hands from the water and was then fired upon and mortally wounded.

In memory of Günter Litfin as well as all other victims of the Wall, a memorial was installed in 1992. Additionally, a street in his home district of Weißensee was named after him. One of the crosses at the White Crosses memorial site next to the Reichstag building is devoted to him.




  • Jürgen Litfin: Tod durch fremde Hand. Das erste Maueropfer in Berlin und die Geschichte einer Familie. Verlag der Nation, Husum 2006, ISBN 978-3-373-00524-7.
  • Mathias Mesenhöller: Die grausame Mauer. In: Geo, 08/2011, S. 73
  • Christine Brecht: Günter Litfin, in: Die Todesopfer an der Berliner Mauer 1961–1989. Ein biographisches Handbuch. Links, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-86153-517-1, p. 37–39.