Who is Klaus Abraham?

Fire service operations at the border before and after 1961

Changes in West Berlin after the Wall was built

Fire service operatons before the wall was built in 1961

Remembering two children who drowned in the border river

Training to be a firefighter

Looking back at 1990

Remembering the recovery of a body from the border waters

"And there was this conflict: They have everything, they could help, but they’re not allowed to help because its not in the interests of politics."

Klaus Abraham on West Berlin fire service operations on the river border, 2021

Klaus Abraham was born in Berlin in 1937. He started training to be a fire fighter in West Berlin in 1960. After the Wall was built on 13 August 1961, he also carried out operations along the border. He helped people jumping out of their homes along the border into fire service rescue nets in West Berlin. Trained as a fire service diver, he was called when Cengaver Katrancı fell into the Spree at Kreuzberg’s May-Ayim Ufer (then Groebenufer) on 30 October 1972. But he was not allowed to search for him because the Spree belonged to the GDR. The West Berlin firemen tried to talk to the commander on Oberbaumbrücke and the crews of the East German patrol boats to gain authorisation to enter the water. “We got no answer”, remembers Klaus Abraham. Their enforced inactivity still troubles him today. In a leading position after 1990, he observed the two Berlin fire services growing together. He still holds that East and West have much more talking to do.

14 people are known to have died at the Berlin Wall where the East Side Gallery now stands. Four children from West Berlin drowned after falling into the river while playing.

Deaths in the river

Contemporary witnesses