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Three East Germans Swim Chilly Canal in Escape To West Berlin

September 24, 1986

BERLIN (AP) _ Three East German men escaped to the West today by swimming the chilly waters of a Berlin canal, a West Berlin spokesman said.

A man about 40 years old and two men in their 20s swam across the Teltow canal at about 2 a.m., city spokesman Hans Birkenbeul said.

Witnesses in West Berlin reported hearing East German guards loading their weapons, but no shots were fired, Birkenbeul said.

The three men were taken to a West Berlin hospital to be treated for exposure to the cold canal water, Birkenbeul said. They were otherwise unhurt.

A total of seven East Germans have escaped in the past three days across the East German and Czechoslovak borders to West Germany.

On Monday, two young East German border guards defected to West Germany in full uniform and carrying their machine guns.

The same day, two East German civilians escaped unhurt in a hail of bullets across the border separating Czechoslovakia and the West German state of Bavaria, police said.

The two civilians escaped in the same region of the border where a West German man was fatally shot on western territory by stray gunfire from Czechoslovak border guards last week.

The guards were firing at two Polish refugees trying to escape over the frontier. Only one of the Poles made it, and the whereabouts of the other is unknown.

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