In 1996, Arno Franke’s family received a letter from the tracing service of the German Red Cross. Only now do they know that the father was shot in December 1950. So are many of the relatives. Five years later, the Franke family learned the name of a fellow inmate of their father. He tells them for the first time about the time they spent together in Schwerin remand prison and the oppressive prison conditions at Demmlerplatz. A shock for Jurgen Franke: "You start to wonder how he suffered from the beatings and how he was worn down."
Christoph Priesemann meets with other bereaved relatives in Potsdam in 2004. There he is confronted by an employee of the State Chancellery with the last photo of his father, taken shortly before the execution in Moscow’s Botyrka prison. Christoph Priesemann: “My father was shaved bald, he no longer had glasses on, but it was still clear to see that it was our father. He was looking steadily and straight ahead into the camera, but you just saw a trapped person. And I was wondering what kind of situation it would be when you were about to be shot. And that in relation to your own father, that’s a very bad thing. "
Rehabilitation – the recognition of injustice
It has been possible to apply for rehabilitation at the Military Prosecutor of the Russian Federation since the 1990s. About two-thirds of the families have received confirmation that the death sentence was wrong – a satisfaction for many. Jurgen Franke is also relieved about the rehabilitation of his father, because he suspects that many citizens of the former GDR continue to think that the death sentence could not be out of thin air. In fact, there is still a subliminal opinion that the victims are guilty of something wrong, confirms Anne Drescher from the office of the state commissioner for Stasi documents in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Therefore, rehabilitation is often a way of refuting these suspicions.