Kostbade Baltic Sea Breakaway - Sailing across the Baltic Sea to freedom.

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Strict border regime

On 28 August 1961, the council of the district of Bad Doberan issued a "Plan of Measures to Secure the Coast, Protect the GDR and Maintain Peace", which stipulated that all types of boats were to be precisely registered and that discussions were to be held with all boat owners and ship-owners about the state's requirements for so-called border security. From then on, towns and communities along the coast had to ensure that civilian boats were under constant surveillance and that unauthorised persons could not use them. To this end, central moorings were set up in Kühlungsborn. Point 4 of the action plan literally reads: "All boat hire companies are to be issued with control books in which the personal details of the users and the times of departure and return are to be entered. Holidaymakers should be made aware of the need to present an identity card for boat trips, via beach radio. Boats may only be used from sunrise to sunset". This was just the beginning of the so-called border security measures following the establishment of the inner-German border.
The spa administration's final report on the 1965 bathing season states that weekly security consultations were held with the mayor of the town, with the participation of the chairman of the Commission for Order and Security, the local secretary of the SED, the representative of the section of the People's Police, and a representative of the border company. The report literally reads: "They (the security consultations) guarantee that all those responsible for order and security are quickly informed and, if necessary, ensure the rapid introduction of measures in all areas". Those responsible were of the opinion that the number of border crossings in the Kühlungsborn coastal area had decreased, but that in some cases the campsite was the starting point for escape, with refugees using rubber dinghies and folding boats.
According to the work plan for 1970, the Commission for Order and Security issued the following instruction "All managers of the FDGB holiday service and the travel agency are to be given an extract of the border regulations. When the holidaymakers arrive, the managers are to inform them how to behave in the border area". In order to be more effective in preventing travellers from leaving the GDR by sea, the government recruited voluntary border guards. A record of the Permanent Commission for Order and Security dated 6 April 1972 states: "We have formed a group of specialists to patrol the border, especially at weekends". Employees of the electrical plant construction company, the "Helmut Just" agricultural cooperative and the FDGB holiday service, as well as school teachers, were recruited to patrol the coast between Kühlungsborn and Heiligendamm alongside members of the GDR border troops.


Their task was to prevent so-called border crossings, i.e. the illegal departure from the GDR by sea. They had to look out for anything that might indicate such an intention and report it immediately to the border troops or the People's Police. For example, the use of boats of any kind, air mattresses, rafts and diving equipment were considered suspicious. It was forbidden to camp outside the campsite or spend the night in the immediate vicinity of the beach, or to sleep in cars or gazebos. Fishermen had to pull their boats far up the beach every evening and tie them up securely. According to the law of 18 July 1972, the border zone covered an area of approximately 5 km from the coast inland. According to the GDR registration regulations and paragraph 34 of the border regulations, anyone wishing to stay on property in the border zone for more than two days had to register with the local office of the Volkspolizei within 24 hours. The obligation to register was mandatory for persons staying in holiday homes or guesthouses run by the FDGB, state bodies, associations, companies, cooperatives or social organisations, and was not abolished until the Law on the State Border of the GDR (Border Law) of 29 March 1982.
Staying overnight without registering, without making a compulsory entry in the 'house book', was already considered illegal. The FDGB holiday service therefore instructed its employees not to allow people to stay overnight in their accommodation, citing the need to secure the GDR's borders. The union holiday service also regularly instructed its employees about border and city regulations and demanded that holidaymakers be instructed as well. Employees were obliged to report to their superiors the presence of inflatable or folding boats in guests' accommodation. For example, anyone who brought a folding or inflatable boat to Kühlungsborn on the Molli without knowing about the border regulations had to report it to the railway staff and explain what it was for. Even Kühlungsborn residents who had their own boat somewhere in the GDR for water sports had to face uncomfortable questions.
The people from the above-mentioned companies who were deemed worthy of voluntary border duty had to spend about two hours on the beach from dusk until about 11 p.m., 'disguised' as ordinary pedestrians, inspecting the beach. All their activities were coordinated with the border patrol. They registered for voluntary border duty by telephone with the Border Guard Corps in Kühlungsborn, where they also signed out and were issued with an identity card identifying them as volunteers of the GDR border troops.


The officers of the border troops trained their helpers at regular intervals of two to three months, and once a year they took part in a defence training competition for all volunteer border helpers of the border battalion. In many cases, this border service was not carried out because not all border helpers identified with this task. For this reason, the local leadership of the Socialist Unity Party (SED) called the party secretaries of the companies together at irregular intervals for consultations in order to implement their local decision to secure the border through additional voluntary service.
In the minutes of the Town Representatives' meeting of 17 April 1975, the following statement can be found "The Permanent Commission for Public Order and Security is recommended to pay even more attention to border security issues in the future. Concrete measures to secure the state border should be defined. It is recommended that an exchange of experience be initiated with the Standing Commission for Order and Security of the Ribnitz/Damgarten District". Concrete measures included the recruitment of around 100 citizens for voluntary border service.
The final report of the Kühlungsborn health resort administration for the 1975 season noted an increase in illegal overnight stays by citizens from all over the GDR in the border area, especially between Friday and Monday. On 9 August of that year alone, border guards and volunteer border workers registered 30 citizens who had no proof of accommodation. Time and again, the border guards found that the majority of the "apprehended" GDR citizens were completely unaware of the strict border regulations.
On 28 February 1978 it became known that the local SED leadership was even considering forming "Young Friends of the GDR Border Troops and People's Police" groups in local schools and involving them in patrol duty. This plan was probably stopped because the pupils were under age. The report on the 1977 bathing season literally states: "145 citizens assisted our border guards in their hard work with additional patrolling and observation". Despite this border surveillance, there were repeated instances of people staying overnight in private cars and on beach chairs, unauthorised camping on the beach and in the municipal forest, and attempts to leave the GDR illegally. In 1977, 145 warnings were issued for breaches of the GDR's beach, bathing and border regulations, and information was passed on to the security authorities for processing on three occasions. He was responsible for ensuring compliance with all security regulations, including registration, fire protection, civil defence, safekeeping of valuables, traffic safety, crime prevention and border security.
In the final report of the 1977 bathing season, under the heading 'Security, border regulations', it is stated that 'order and safety on the beach have improved considerably thanks to the good cooperation between the lifeguards and the border guards'.


For the 1978 season, it is proposed that extracts from the border regulations be displayed in several languages at the campsite, in all holiday homes and hotels, and in the town squares. Once again, the People's Police and the Border Guard Service are calling for strict compliance with the registration regulations and for all holidaymakers to be informed and instructed on the measures contained in the border regulations.
On 1 January 1980, a new local statute came into force, mainly due to the border regulations. Paragraph VIII/b states: "Every resident ... is obliged to inform the resort administration in writing if he wishes to receive visitors in the period from 1 May to 30 September. This applies to parents, children and their spouses, grandchildren and siblings of residents. All other visits by relatives or acquaintances are subject to application and approval". This section of the local by-laws was largely ignored by the locals, leaving the village with a patchwork of controls over everyone in the village.
Section 20 of the 1982 Border Act also regulated the role of the volunteer border guards. It states: "Citizens who have reached the age of 18 and who are willing to support the border troops of the GDR in the performance of their duties can be confirmed and enlisted as voluntary helpers of the border troops on the recommendation of social organisations or associations or on the basis of a personal application. They received an identity card as proof of their status. They could be recruited by the GDR border troops on request or by cancellation of the confirmation. From then on, volunteers received a small allowance of about 120 GDR marks per six months for their service. In a resolution of the local leadership of the SED, the municipal committee of the National Front and the council of the Baltic seaside resort of Kühlungsborn "Our word and deed in preparation for the XIth Party Congress of the SED" of 20 December 1984, point 7 reads: "In order to secure the northern state border, the citizens of the town commit themselves to developing border-related thinking and action even more actively, to securing the voluntary border service with a high degree of responsibility and to forming three more border protection units (GSA) by the evening before the XIth Party Congress. "These border guards, consisting of 3 to 4 people, also worked on a voluntary basis. Their task was to organise the border service and the so-called "mass political" educational work in companies. In March 1985, these activists were even trained for the first time. The mayor of the town and the chairman of the GSA were instructed to issue identity cards to these helpers and to set up new border guards in the fishing cooperative and the district hospital. In 1987 there were the following border guards in the town Sailing Centre, FDGB Holiday Service, Deutsche Reichsbahn, Deutsche Post, Farbenfreude Craft Production Cooperative, Dairy, GDR Travel Agency. Efforts were also made to recruit active members for the fishing cooperative, the electrical plant construction company, the Waterkant LPG and the VKSK.
With the opening of the Wall in November 1989, these volunteers ceased their activities. They were only asked to hand in their equipment, such as headphones and uniforms for competitions.

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The Baltic Sea Border Tower is a unique place where you can authentically experience the history of the division of Germany. Climb the tower and enjoy the view over the vast horizon of the Baltic Sea, which was once the border. Learn about the techniques used to monitor the border on a historical tour or visit our museum.

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