|A diagram of the Inner German Border Zone and its extensive defensive network separating East Germany from West Germany from around 1980|
Beyond the signal fence was the "protective strip" (Schutzstreifen). It was brightly lit by floodlights in many places to reduce an escapee's chances of using the cover of darkness. Guard towers, bunkers and dog runs were positioned at frequent intervals to keep a round-the-clock watch on the strip. Crossing the Schutzstreifen, the escapee would next reach the floodlit control strip, often called the "death strip" in the West. Tripwire-activated flare launchers were situated at various points to help the border guards to pinpoint the location of an escape attempt. The last and most formidable obstacle was the outer fencing. In some places there were multiple parallel rows of fences, each up to several metres high, with dense minefields in between. The fences were not electrified but were booby-trapped with directional anti-personnel mines at intervals of 10 metres (33 ft), each one of which was capable of killing at a range of up to 120 metres (390 ft). Finally, the escapee had to cross whatever natural obstacles were on the western side of the border fence as well as traversing a strip of cleared ground that was up to 500 meters (1640 ft) wide. While crossing this outer strip, the escapee would appear in clear view and shooting range of the border guards before reaching the safety of West German territory.
|An East German Mil Mi-8 Hip utility helicpter flying along the Inner German Border Zone|
|An East German Mil Mi-24 Hind D gunship helicopter patrolling the border region with West Germany.|
The uniform displayed here is of a Feldwebel (Sergeant) in the Grenzflieger service of the Grenztruppen der DDR (Border Troops of the German Democratic Republic). Grenzflieger uniforms were made of a different material than standard NVA uniforms being made from wool rather than the standard gabardine material.
The visor cap shown here for a non commissioned officer in the Grenztruppen der DDR's Grenzflieger service. It retains the stone grey color of National Volksarmee uniforms along with its associated dark green piping of the Grenztruppen der DDR but also note the distinctive Air Force propeller in wreath insignia of the flying service. Note the distinctive Air Force style variant of the national insignia with the Hammer and Compass roundel encircled within a wreath with wings extending from it and in being a non commissioned officer's visor there is no silver braiding only a black plastic capband.
Note the interior marking of NVA for the East German National Volksarmee. This visor example shown here carries a letter 'H' designation meaning the visor was manufactured in 1984. The size of this example is 59cm or 7 3/8in by American sizing equivalents.
Shown here is the Kragenspiegeln (Collar Insignia) of a Grenztruppen Grenzflieger non commissioned officer. It is essentially air force style collar tabs with a pair of wings against a green fabric patch of the Grenztruppen service. Also note the silver collar tress of a senior Non Commissioned Officer grade.
Here is a close up of the silver Grenztruppen device on the Schutzenschnür. It displays an AK-47 assault rifle against an East German border marker surrounded by a pair of oak leaves. It then is attached to a silver colored cord which is mounted first to the button on the right shoulder underneath the shoulderboard and the end of the lanyard attached to the top button on the uniform tunic.
Here is a picture of the Grenztruppen Bestenabzeichen (Best Soldier Badge) in 4th Class. It is essentially a gold AK-47 barrel with attached bayonet against a green background the color of the Grenztruppen. Across the top is the word 'Bester' (Best) and across the bottom are a pair of oak leaves and the number 4, representing the fourth class of the award.
Here is the NVA Militärsportabzeichen (NVA Sports Badge) essentially an Oval-shaped gold pin-back badge with a flag design featuring the letters “NVA” for the National Volksarmee (National Peoples Army) rimmed by the state motto 'Für den Schutz der Arbeiter und Bauern Macht' (For the Protection of the Workers' and Farmers' Power) and national coat of arms of East Germany.
Again shown here is a close up of the cuff title of the Grenztruppen der DDR sewn against the left sleeve of the tunic.
The interior of the Grenzflieger service tunic displaying the NVA stamp.
Displayed here is the gray dress shirt issued to regular soldiers in the armed forces for wearing underneath the uniform tunic along with the dark grey NVA tie and the stone grey trousers worn by the Grenztruppen. As these are a different material than the standard gabardine, and the soldier is not an officer there is no colored striping down the length of the pant leg. On certain occasions the jacket could be removed and this variant of the uniform worn. All shirts in the East German government had loops on the shoulder for mounting rank shoulderboards when not wearing the jacket. In summer and warm climates, the tie could be removed and the shirt collar worn open.
The stone grey service trousers worn by NVA and Grenztruppen personnel this example of the matching wool material of Grenzflieger non commissioned officer uniforms.
Displayed here is a close up of the silver buckle if the belt. This belt was issued to all NVA service members. .
|An East German Mil Mi-8 Hip utility helicopter flying along the border with West Germany|
|A U.S. Army AH-1 Huey Cobra gunship flies along the border region shadowed in the distance by it's East German counterpart the Mil Mi-24 Hind D gunship|
|A close up picture of a Cobra crew with an East German Hind helicopter in the background|