August 1961.  Teenage East German border guard Conrad Schumann leaps to freedom on the Western side.  The Cold War begins.

On 15 August 1961 he found himself, aged 19, guarding the Berlin Wall, then in its third day of construction, at the corner of Ruppinerstraße and Bernauerstraße. At that stage of construction, the Berlin Wall was only a low barbed wire fence. As the people on the Western side shouted Komm rüber! (“come over”), Schumann jumped the barbed wire and was driven away at high speeds by a waiting West Berlin police car.

How can a simple leap divine the human conscience?

In Conrad’s simple, world-changing jump, he defined then what most of us take for granted today: Freedom is cherished, but perishable.

Conrad’s impulse to save his life in a single leap has tremendous meaning because, in his own salvation, he proved to the rest of the world precisely how wrong that wall would become even before it was fully formed.

The genius in that liberty leap is cemented in the visual semiotic that proves forever that one person can make a difference, a single impulse can beat throughout history forever, and a solitary chime can ring for freedom the world over.


  1. What a brave man! Who knows what might have befallen him had he not quite made it – and yet he risked that to get to freedom.

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