Hötensleben
Lange Trift, Hötensleben, Germany
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An environmental police officer operating at the inner-German border

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Klaus Wedemann was a police officer in Helmstadt. He specialized in environmental law and in 1986, he had an assignment in Schönigen. As there was still some time left, he went to the Schöninger Aue, a border river between the former GDR and the Federal Republic of Germany. It was at the border crossing from Hötensleben, which was closed at the time. It was a bit of a neglected area but the border river played a huge role as the local drainage channel nevertheless. “When pacing along the river, at one spot I suddenly realized that the water there had an apparently unnatural appearance. And I found a pipe which was located on the territory of the GDR, running into the Schöninger Aue. I could see immediately that this wasn’t okay. The flora of the water had disappeared completely river downwards. Therefore I crossed the border – illegally you could say – and took some water samples in the polluted area. But what was I supposed to do with it now? I passed the case to the prosecutor who then handed it to the Office for intra-German cooperation in Bonn as there were cross-border ramifications to the case. And it really didn’t take long before the pipe was removed. After some time, I went to the place again and it was no longer there. It had been removed by the GDR. Thus the water pollution was brought to an end,” he recalled.

Klaus Wedemann

Klaus Wedemann

Klaus Wedemann was born on May 17, 1944, in Garlstorf near Winsen, (Luhe), where he spent his childhood and adolescence, far away from the border between the Germanys. In 1958, he began an apprenticeship for a machine fitter. However, in 1964, he decided to change his career and enrolled at a police academy in Hannoversch Münden. His further career brought him to the anti-riot police forces in Braunschweig, where he met his future wife. She persuaded him to change the police precinct and move closer to her home in Helmstedt at the border with the GDR. Since 1969, Klaus specializes in environmental criminal law and was one of the first ones to do so. His job brought him in several cases in the immediate vicinity of the state border. One of his cases – a pollution of the Aue River on the border of the two Germanys, between Hötensleben and Schöningen – even resulted in a political dispute between the FRG and the GDR. An illegal wastewater outlet on the East-German side of the border generated a lot of stir since 1986 and the problem finally had to be tackled by the Office for the intra-German cooperation in Bonn. Klaus Wedemann has repeatedly dealt with the border in his private as well as professional life.

Hötensleben

Available in: English | Deutsch

Hötensleben is a municipality in the district of Börde in Saxony-Anhalt that is located about 12 km south of the town of Helmstedt. The first official evidence of Hötensleben dates back to the year 983. The interesting thing about Hötensleben is the fact that you may find one of the last sections of the former inner German border here. The former border facilities between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic were built directly on the houses of the village. Spanning a distance of 350 meters and comprising an area of 6.5 hectares, among others, there is to be found a curtain that was intended to prevent the “enemy” from seeing beyond the border, a signal fence, the view and firing range with a light-signal strip, border-patrol path and vehicle barriers, the boundary wall and the watch tower. All these objects have been well preserved and the facility is a part of the European cultural heritage since 2011.

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