Balloon escapee meets former border guards at kulmbach vocational school center

Balloon escapee meets former border guards at kulmbach vocational school center

The "real" balloon escapee arrives – gunter wetzel was celebrated like a star on his arrival at the vocational school center. Not only the schoolchildren who visited the exhibition "30 years since the fall of the berlin wall" were impressed the people who had helped design the film wanted to meet the fugitive in person, but so did many others, because they had all seen the spectacular movie "the balloon seen by bully herbig and were curious about the eyewitness from back then.

Gunter wetzel is 64 years old today. After his spectacular escape from the GDR at the age of 24, he became an icon. He received help just one day after his "crash landing" get an apartment in naila with his family. And he worked as a car mechanic in the west. Today he lives in chemnitz. "I have not regretted a single minute of my escape", said wetzel.

Gunter wetzel got the idea of escaping the GDR and the regime in a balloon from a magazine. He built the first balloon, but it did not fly. The second balloon was not rough enough that he and the second family of peter strelzyk had been able to escape. So strelzyk fled alone, but he did not make it to the west: a few meters from the border – in hornsgrun – the balloon crashed. It was not found until several weeks later, but the people involved knew they had to make another attempt, because the police were hot on their heels.

Material bought together

"When we met on 27. July have decided to make another attempt to escape, we were not afraid. We only functioned. I called in sick from 27. August to 16. September I had vacation anyway. And during this time I had time to work on the balloon", he told wetzel. Together with the other participants, he bought fabric and sewed a balloon from it. "I only sewed daytime slipcovers – it was different from the film, which was of course a bit more dramatic. I knew that the balloon had to be rougher than the previous ones. I had estimated a volume of 4200 cubic meters – we needed much more material than for the previous balloons", reported the 64-year-old. In various shops, the escapees bought up umbrella silk, tent nylon and taffeta, always in small quantities so that the stasi and the people’s police would not become aware of them. And then wetzel approached 60 lanes, which had a length of 35 meters, together. The formula that gunter wetzel needed to calculate the balloon was taken from the "brockhaus-lexikon der physik" handbook and the manual "fachkunde fur gasmonteure" taken from. Wetzel didn’t think that anything could go wrong – even though the first escape had been a disastrous failure.

Restricted freedom of opinion

At the third attempt the escape succeeded. "When we landed, we didn’t know where we were. But we ran towards the south. If we didn’t make it, we had walked right into the border. Then everything would have been over", reports wetzel.

The main reason for the escape was the restricted freedom of expression. "You could not say what you thought. My father left for the west when i was five years old. I wasn’t allowed to study, but I wanted to study physics – and I didn’t want to join the SED", said wetzel.

After the fall of the wall, the balloon escapee consulted his stasi file: it comprised 2400 pages. The worst discovery in the file was that his own godfather was supposed to lure him into a trap. To this day, wetzel has no contact with him: "I have no interest", he said.

Former border guards also had their say at the panel discussion. "I was called at 6 o’clock in the morning because the balloon had landed", recalls otto oeder, former member of the bavarian border police. The refugees from the east did not have to reckon with repressive measures. "You were german. We questioned them, we wanted to know who had come. But it was unique that eight people fled in one fell swoop. That was already a sickness of the GDR and the regime. Normally there were always one or two."

"Fugitives persecuted as hard as nails," said

Eberhard diezel wore an eastern uniform during the panel discussion with the schoolchildren. But he was deployed on the west side. Gunther heinze from the nva was present from the east. Heinze had to do compulsory duty at the border and confirmed that republicans had been hunted down and persecuted as hard as nails. There was no contact with the western border guards: "otto and all the others were the class enemy. There was a minefield – and we didn’t know where the mines were ourselves. Those from the west sometimes waved – we did not. We were not allowed to do that, said heinze. He was also not so euphoric about the opening of the border: "in the GDR, we always did black work on the houses. I had laid tiles, and suddenly all the others were gone, to the west", explained heinze.

Fur silke scheffold from the FOS/BOS, who organized the exhibition (until 29. November in the vocational school center) was the 9. November 1989 "the best gift".

Like this post? Please share to your friends:
Leave a Reply

;-) :| :x :twisted: :smile: :shock: :sad: :roll: :razz: :oops: :o :mrgreen: :lol: :idea: :grin: :evil: :cry: :cool: :arrow: :???: :?: :!: