WEST BERLIN — An East German said today he defected to the West by masquerading as a Soviet army corporal, filling a van with department store mannequins dressed as Soviet officers and casually driving through a Berlin Wall checkpoint.
Heinz Braun, 48, said an East German border guard waved him through from East to West Berlin at a crossing point in the Berlin wall Wednesday night to end his spectacular flight.
Braun described the escape at a West Berlin news conference held by the Aug. 13 Society, a West Berlin organization that keeps track of escapees and refugees.
Braun said he drove a van similar to the military vehicles used by the Soviet army that move back and forth across the intra-city border and that he decided to disguise himself as a Soviet corporal and dressed the store mannequins as officers.
With one dummy attired as a lieutenant colonel sitting beside him in the front seat and the two others in Soviet lieutenant uniforms in the back, Braun said, he cruised through the crossing.
It was not clear where Braun got the uniforms.