An East German was shot a mile away from the border
In early August 1977, close to Broumov in the Tachov District, some 1,600 metres from the state border, a border guard shot and killed the East German citizen Gerhard Schmidt while he was attempting to reach West Germany. Although the private did not fire until after repeated calls to stop were ignored by the fugitive, he probably committed a criminal offence, as the distance to the border did not necessitate such extreme action. Schmidt, a 38-year-old construction engineer from Stassfurt, hoped to cross the border near Broumov with his wife and three children. While the family waited in hiding, Schmidt cut through the conductors of the first signal barrier. He was seen by Private Milan Polčík of the Border Guard. Despite the guardsman’s warnings the whole family crossed the barrier and continued into the inner section of the border zone. Polčík gave chase, shot Schmidt, and detained the others. Even though Schmidt was given first aid and was taken to hospital for surgery, he succumbed to his wound. His family was handed over to officials of the DDR. At the time the investigation exonerated Polčík’s actions, as according to contemporary documents “he did not have any other way of stopping their escape.” The private was rewarded with a holiday for “intending to use his weapon only against the man and not wanting to endanger the woman or children with his fire.” The Czech Office for the Documentation and Investigation of the Crimes of Communism came to the conclusion that a criminal offence was committed, as the guardsman had milder means for stopping the group at his disposal. However, the General Prosecution Office of the Slovak Republic deemed the prosecution case of the Slovak citizen Polčík to be statute barred.