Rolf Kranz was born in 1955 and lived in West Berlin, working as a retail salesman. In June 1980, he and a friend visited East Berlin. The pair met a GDR citizen, who spoke readily of his intention to flee the GDR. That evening, the three developed the idea that Kranz would lend his identification documents to the man in order to assist his escape to the West. Under the influence of alcohol, Rolf Kranz committed to undertaking the huge risk.
At the border crossing at Friedrichstrasse, Kranz reported his papers lost and was subsequently arrested and taken to the detention centre in Pankow. From there, he was transferred to Suhl. Kranz was sentenced to three years in prison for border-crossing, which he served in Berlin-Rummelsburg. After the FRG's purchase for the release of prisoners from the GDR, Kranz arrived in West Berlin in March 1982.
From there, he stayed with his family in Sylt and later returned to West Berlin, where he continued his work in retail.