Jäger: I spoke repeatedly to all officers in charge that evening. On the street, but also in my office. They demanded: "Harald, you've got to do something!" I said: "What am I supposed to do?" I wanted to hear what they thought. They stood together in my office and I wanted them to tell me what I should do. "It's up to you, you're the boss," they said. I said: "Should I let the GDR citizens leave? Or should I give the order to open fire?" "For God's sake!" they said. I only mentioned opening fire as a provocation, I wanted to know if they would support me if I allowed the GDR citizens to cross over. It was clear that it would be my responsibility but I wanted to be sure I would have their support. But that wasn't forthcoming. That's how the meeting ended.
For another 3 miles or so was the Restricted Zone where the inhabitants of entire villages were progressively evicted from their homes and the buildings razed to the ground, so potential escapees would have no place to hide or shelter themselves. If a village was located near the border, the citizens were not allowed to repair normal wear-and-tear on their buildings and infrastructure, until they finally fell into uninhabitable ruin, then the rubble was removed. Geographic Area & Estimated Building Costs So that was the DDR border area. It consumed 2,770 square miles, over 6% of the DDR’s total land area. Within this area, economic activity was severely curtailed or ceased entirely. To this day, no one knows precisely how much it cost to build and maintain the DDR border fortifications. The building cost of just one of the 30′ watchtowers was about 65,000 Ostmarks (roughly $16,250 in 1970s dollars) each and the expanded metal fences cost over 244,250 Ostmarks (roughly $61,000 in 1970s dollars) per mile.