Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Today, in memory of Peter Fechter, it's the oddly appropriate song Through The Barricades; I say oddly appropriate because the band performing it, Spandau Ballet, has another connection to the day - namely that of the death of Hitler henchman Rudolf Hess on this day in 1987. The band was said to be named for the twitching done by Nazi war criminals when they hanged themselves in West Germany's Spandau Prison; whether or not the story is true, it suits my agenda, so I'm happy to repeat it.
Hess was the last prisoner in that facility, who killed himself* (coincidentally) on the anniversary of the murder of Fechter by East German soldiers as the 18-year-old bricklayer attempted to flee to safety in West Berlin across the Berlin Wall on this day in 1962. Currently there is a memorial to Peter Fechter at the spot where he died** - on the Zimmerstrasse, in the reunited Berlin; Fechter's friend Helmut Kulbeik, with whom he'd attempted the escape, was successful. Spandau, on the other hand, was razed following Hess' death, to prevent it from becoming a neo-Nazi shrine; the Wall, of course, famously fell in November 1989.
Through the Barricades is the title track of a 1986 album by Spandau Ballet, and is seen here being performed live.
*Naturally, there is some disagreement whether Hess killed himself or was murdered. Like it matters.
**Fechter is recognized as the Berlin Wall's first victim.
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