More than 5,000 East Germans have made it safely over the Berlin Wall since it went up in 1961 and 30,058 others have fled into West Germany at other border areas, according to the August 13 group in West Berlin.
But 189 people are known to have died while attempting to flee, said Horst Schumm, deputy director of the group, which monitors human rights in East Germany.The lastest fatality at the Berlin Wall was a 22-year-old man who was shot and killed by border guards Feb. 6 as he tried to make it over the top with a ladder.
Another East Berlin man was killed recently when he fell to his death from the platform of his homemade hot air balloon. On March 10, East German border troops wounded one of three men during an escape attempt.
"The economic and political situation in East Germany has deteriorated considerably and many people have no hope that things will change or get better," Schumm said. "People are becoming more desperate."
East German leader Erich Honecker, said this past January that the wall "will still be standing in 50 years and even in 100 years if the reasons (for its existence) are not set aside."