A Small Death in Germany

The obscure end to a life that had taken Aubrey Pankey from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to the world's concert stages was tapped out on a manual typewriter in the Potsdam headquarters of the Bezirksbehörde der Deutschen Volkspolizei.

 Potsdam District Traffic Police

 -- "Traffic Accidents with Deadly Outcomes"

 From 25 Mar 71 through 27 Jun 71

 Death No. 60 - 9 May 71 - Sunday - 5:50 a.m.

 Teltow - Ernst-Thälmann-Strasse - automobile driver

 Fatigue ["over-tiredness"] - Alcohol - Speed

 Auto driven against tree

 Self responsible

A red pen was used to underline the word "Alkohol" and a penciled notation recorded the blood alcohol level, 0.04. Legal to drive, but with reactions slowed by both alcohol and fatigue. What brought East Berliner Aubrey Pankey to the end of his road?

 East German Press Reports

 -- "Aubrey Pankey fatally crashed"

 was the headline in the Tuesday issue of the Potsdam daily Markisches Volkstimme. This local story was buried deep inside the paper and was only a paragraph from ADN, the East German press agency. In Berlin, the arts community focused on the death of Helene Weigel, celebrated actress and upholder of her late husband Bertolt Brecht's work. Reuters transmitted the ADN Pankey story to the world. The New York Times simply merged the ADN/Reuters story with file material from his World War II sojourn in New York City.

The sparse information leads to questions that were not answered in the traffic police records. In the next page, some possible answers are provided.

 Midpoint of the Cold War

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