Police Want to Question Man About Unusual Escape
BERLIN (AP) _ West Berlin police said Monday they want to question Heinz Braun about his statement that he fled the East by driving through a wall crossing with mannequins dressed as Soviet army officers, but they can’t find him.
Braun, 48, told a West Berlin news conference last Friday that he bluffed his way through a Berlin Wall crossing two days earlier in a station wagon painted to resemble a standard Soviet military patrol vehicle. He said he was dressed as a Soviet sergeant and had three mannequins in the car disguised as Soviet officers.
There has been no independent confirmation of the escape, and West German media have speculated about the truth of his story.
Police spokesman Dieter Piete said in a telephone interview that authorities originally wanted to question Braun because it is illegal for a German to wear the uniform of one of the Allied powers in the divided city. He said they also would ask him about the escape itself.
″Right now I must leave it completely open as to whether it is true,″ Piete said. ″I hope I know after the interrogation.″
He said police had a West Berlin address for Braun but had not found him there.
Wolfgang Quasner, a West Berliner who says he assisted in the escape, said he did not know Braun’s whereabouts on Monday.
Quasner and Braun did not display film or photographs of the escape at the news conference sponsored by the August 13 Working Group, a human rights organization that is named for the date the wall was built in 1961 and has provided accurate information about escapes in the past.
A film broadcast by the West Berlin’s television station Sender Freies Berlin showed Braun driving the repainted station wagon in West Berlin, but did not show the escape.
Representatives of the Allied powers in West Berlin questioned Braun over the weekend, said Rainer Hildebrandt, a spokesman for the August 13 group who attended the news conference Friday. He said he did not know where Braun was on Monday.
Hildebrandt said he hoped for a statement from both West Berlin police and the Allies on the escape.
A spokesman for the U.S. mission in West Berlin, Ed Harper, refused comment.
East Germany’s communist government has Braun’s story a ″swindler’s tale.″
Soviet military patrols pass through wall crossings freely as representatives of the Allied powers governing Berlin under postwar occupation agreements, as do U.S., British and French patrols.
East Berlin is the Soviet-occupied zone of the city. The U.S., British and French zones make up West Berlin.