Thought for the day

"The tendency has always been strong to believe that whatever received a name must be an entity or being, having an independent existence of its own. And if no real entity answering to the name could be found, men did not for that reason suppose that none existed, but imagined that." -- John Stuart Mill


Conrad Schumann was immortalized in this photo as he crossed the barricade that would become the Berlin Wall. The picture was called "The Leap into Freedom". It became an iconic image of the Cold War.


Born in Zasschau, Saxony during the middle of World War II, he enlisted in the East German State Police after his 18th birthday. Since he had always shown himself to be a loyal and hardworking young citizen of the German Democratic Republic, the local military authorities offered him a distinguished position in the paramilitary Beiterschaftspolizei or Bepo ("riot police"), which was specifically referred to as a rebellion. was conceived to suppress.


On 15 August 1961, 19-year-old Schumann was sent to the corner of Rupinner Strasse and Bernauer Strasse to guard the Berlin Wall on the third day of construction. At that time, the wall was only a low barbed wire fence. In the same spot, in West Berlin, 19-year-old photographer Peter Leibing stood.


For more than an hour, Leibing stared back and forth at the bewildered young non-commissioned officer, his PPSH-41 leaning on his shoulder, smoking one cigarette after another. "Come on, come up!" (Kom 'rubber!) The West Berlin crowd chanted on Bernauer Strae. "He's going to jump!" A passerby commented.


And at four o'clock in the evening on August 15, 1961, Leibing got lucky. Schumann threw his cigarette aside, then turned and ran for the barbed wire line marking the boundary between East and West. As he was flying, he jumped up, threw his gun away, and Leibing clicked the shutter. A nearby newsreel cameraman captured the same scene on film.