Стена. Пять историй | Документальный фильм Би-би-си

Стена. Пять историй | Документальный фильм Би-би-си


I wanted to escape at any cost.
I even had to marry a man I didn’t love. Those living in this area were friends… …and those outside the perimeter
were enemies. I was told that I had planned
to attempt to flee East Germany. “Planned to attempt to flee!”
So I hadn’t even done anything! My mother was told that
I was a dangerous criminal. I was turned back at the border twice. And only years later,
after the wall fell, did we find out that one of our friends
had been ratting us out. I had freedom of opinion
and freedom of speech. It was my duty. That’s why I did it. The wall divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989. No fewer than 140 people were killed
attempting to escape over it. Now the barricades
are going up everywhere. Many of the 50,000 East Berliners
who worked daily in the West Sector have no job. Tanks are along the boundary.
The guards have been redoubled. I came to Berlin only
on the 30th of October. But I managed to help someone to escape on the very first day. At first, I was terrified. I wasn’t afraid for myself, but I was horrified
at what they had done. I felt rage. And then my rage turned to hatred. I hated “them” – those on the other side. And I was also angry:
while organising the escapes I heard so many people’s stories. And then
I really loathed the system. They were in such distress,
under such pressure because of the Stasi,
and because of the army… I didn’t want to fight the system.
I’ve got to be clear about that: I didn’t want to overthrow Ulrich
or bring down the Regime, I just wanted to help people
who suffered at the hands of the system. On the day the wall was built,
my mum tried to escape. They caught her at the border
and sent her back. She was lucky –
they didn’t punish her because it all happened on the very day
the wall was put up. She got on a train
to West Germany. But there were so many people there,
and all of them were sent back. She was lucky,
but she was “put on the list”. She was 19 or 20 years old then… If we turn to the statistics, a total
of 75 tunnels were dug in Berlin. And only 19 of them could be used.
19 out of 75. Most of them were reported to the authorities by traitors. They didn’t collapse.
I mean, some of them did collapse, but not that many.
Most of them were reported by traitors. In total, some 400 people
made it to freedom through these tunnels, 800 more escaped
by the sewers, and 10,000 others escaped
on forged passports. Our family was divided: one half lived in West Germany,
and the other – in the East. But despite that,
we were holding up, together. We couldn’t go to the other side,
but our relatives didn’t give up on us. They would come to East Germany to visit us, and, of course, thanks of that
we knew what was really happening. We saw that we’d been lied to
about the West being evil. That kind of thing… Passports were the most effective way. At first we used the passports
of people who looked like refugees. Then we started pasting in fake photos,
forging passports. That’s how we helped
a lot of people to escape. But that all came to an end
on the 7th of January 1962, when they changed the
border control rules. We could no longer use
forged passports, so we started digging tunnels. So, this is Heidelberger Strasse. There were eight tunnels
running under the ground here. This is the tunnel
that Jerche used to escape. There was another tunnel right there, and a third one under that house over there. The first one was here,
under this kindergarten. It started somewhere around here and led right across the street, making the street part of history. I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Then after the war with England
I moved to Saudi Arabia and lived there for a year. But I liked Europe, so I thought
it would be nice to travel around it. So we decided to go to Paris. We hitchhiked! We were probably stoned or something, but one day we woke up near Nuremberg.
We’d been going in the wrong direction. We thought:
“Screw it, let’s go to Berlin!” We knew some people in Berlin, we’d been meaning to go there anyway,
so we headed straight to Berlin. And for the first year or two
I lived there illegally. This street runs
between Neukoln and Treptow districts. For us, activists
who were helping people escape, it had the advantage
of there being no more than 20 metres between the houses
on the West and the East. You could dig a 20-metre-long tunnel
in three days and three nights. And there’s no need for electricity,
you can work with a torch; there’s no need for extra oxygen…
A tunnel that short is easy to dig. But for the longer tunnels,
like the one on Bernauerstrasse, which was 140 metres long, you needed oxygen,
wired power, winches and anything else
you could get your hands on. Here we were shifting out the spoils
in big round metal basins like those butchers use
to carry meat around in. The hard bit was
that you couldn’t just dig in the normal way. The tunnels were only 50-60cm tall, as low as that, so you had to really work
to dig your way through: you couldn’t just
shovel the earth out, you had to lie on your back
and dig with your feet, which had a shovel strapped to them,
moving the spoils to the side. It was this wide and this high,
so really narrow in there. My name is Ralph Haenel,
I was born in 1964 in Dresden, Saxony, but I grew up in Rostock,
on the Baltic coast, and went to school there until 1980. Then I moved to East Berlin,
and lived there until 1982. Almost since my childhood I had an enormous interest
in martial arts. I watched boxing on TV
if it was on, and I really liked judo. One year later, I was recommended
a school of Japanese jiu-jitsu, which was almost unheard of back then. In East Germany, officially,
there were no martial arts whatsoever. There only were allowed
boxing, judo and wrestling, as those sportsmen
were sent to the World Championships, and the Olympics, as medals, and preferably gold medals, got the country recognised
internationally. It was virtually impossible
to find other sports, outside these three, and particularly for teenagers. I later found a few guys
who had trained underground, since there were no books available,
no magazines… Actually, I had a great childhood. The state really supported those
who were involved in sports. I loved going
to training sessions after classes, skipping afternoon Scout meetings as they were always awful. Even as a child
I wasn’t blind to what was going on. I understood the East-West problem, because of the situation in my family, I realised that, when I was a child,
they had deprived me of my right to visit my relatives in the West. I came up with a lot of tricks. But the most famous one was
the one with the Cadillac – it’s really easy to explain. I had an idea. I knew that they usually made
hiding places between the back seat
and the boot of the car, moving the seat back
and making the boot a little smaller. But, on the Eastern border,
they knew about that trick. So my thought was:
“Where won’t they look? Where else could you hide in a car
that nobody would ever think about? Behind the dashboard!” But that could only be done
in an American car. Eventually we found a Cadillac. It was 7 metres long and had a 6-litre engine
that went “gloob-gloob-gloob”. It was an ocean liner of a car
with a huge dashboard. It looked so elegant, but it was so big
that even I could fit behind it, and I was about 6’2” (187cm) tall
back then. And I could fit in there,
in that hiding place. With this car alone
we helped some 200 people to escape. With just one car! Normally, a car would be rumbled
after 5 or 6 crossings, but not this one. We would help eight people escape,
and then we would change the paintwork. Once it was black,
then yellow, then green… We would change the number plate
or the bonnet mascot, and it turned from a Cadillac
into a Mercury or a Chevrolet. So, we would come up with something new
all the time. Thanks to that,
the car travelled to the East and back – undiscovered – time and time again. Everybody knew about Checkpoint Charlie. We knew about – and saw photos –
of the 1961 standoff between the tanks. It was a significant moment for Berlin. And I, like many others,
had always thought that the sense of division
was particularly strong there: you are here, and there is
no way you can get over there. At the very least, it is really hard.
In fact, it’s impossible. Nowadays, there’s not a single detail
to remind you of those days. Back then
everything about it was heavy… Today there are advertisements all around,
souvenir stands on every corner, tourists are having fun,
taking selfies, crossing the line,
where the wall once stood, without a care in the world. It’s hard to express how you used to feel
when you stood in this area… People take photos with actors
dressed up as border guards, have fun, without a second thought for what the place once meant
for somebody’s life. In 1969 our first daughter was born. But earlier, in 1964 and 1965,
they had attempted to abduct me, and take me to the East. I wasn’t scared at all
that they might come for me a third time. I was sure I could get myself out of the situation,
outsmart them somehow. But then my wife said to me: “You know, if they take me or the baby,
we’ll have no chance. Let’s move out of Berlin”. My friends took over for me,
so I could leave. I helped them once or twice from Hanover,
which we’d moved to, and in 1970 I quit altogether. I came to East Germany with my father
who was sent here in 1986. We lived in Wunsdorf. Back in the day it was the Soviet army headquarters
in Germany. There were no Germans living here,
only Soviet citizens. This used to be my school.
There were two schools in the city, an elementary and a middle school. This was the elementary one, now it’s a residential building. Every building here
used to be painted in grey colour. They were defence facilities. And this abandoned building
used to be a gym. I come here every now and then,
last time was two or three years ago. And every time I come
I feel nostalgic… Today there are people in my school. Sitting, having dinner,
reading newspapers. Here we used
to grind away at our studies, and now it’s someone’s home. I was about 10 years old
when I first saw acrobats. And I decided then:
“I want to be an acrobat!” I wrote to the circus school
and they wrote back. I wrote to them myself,
my parents knew nothing about it. The follow-up letter said
I had to wait until I was 13 years old to be accepted
for the entrance examination, and that I should remind them then. I didn’t show the letter to my parents. It was my own secret. When I turned 13
I wrote to the school again, and they invited me to send in my papers
and come to Berlin. I lived in a commune in West Berlin
with a few other people. We shared money and everything,
it was a real commune. We earned money
by doing all sorts of odd jobs… I had brought some money back
from Switzerland, used it to pay for a month
of German classes, and it ran out. Then I started selling flowers
on the street. I would buy a big bunch of roses
for 5 marks and sell them
for 5 marks a flower. So I made many times more
than I spent. I moved here and it was the first time
I came across the wall. Whenever you went –
to school, to work, to your friends – it was there. You felt as if it was restricting you. And when you’re 16, 18 years old… it was particularly interesting. They called it
the Anti-Fascist Protection Wall, and it was meant to protect us
from all the bad coming from the West. The Westerners could come here freely,
but we couldn’t go there. And it gets you thinking:
“How does this work?” Here I met my instructor
who came from West Berlin to train me. It wasn’t easy
to invite somebody from West Germany. You had to send in
an official invitation stating the purpose of the trip. My first kung fu instructor came twice,
and then he was denied entry. Then I found another instuctor
in West Berlin, and he came
using a one-day tourist visa. He would come in the morning
and leave just before midnight. In the application form he would write
that he wanted to visit museums, but he would actually train me. He first came on the 1st of June 1986. He had written to me that he would be
in a two-colour leather jacket, and that I was to meet him
on Friedrichstrasse. There used to be
one of the legal border crossing points. He crossed the border,
we looked at each other and nodded, like in a spy movie, as we had to move on from there to
avoid arousing suspicions. We changed cabs,
and eventually we got here. I guess, the Stasi
started keeping tabs on me around 1983-84. Every now and then
guys coming to train with me would say: “There is a car outside,
they might be watching us”. I was giving classes
in my private apartment in Rostock, and some of my trainees would say: “I wouldn’t trust the guy
who’s just joined us, I’m suspicious of him,
he might be working for them… I have a bad feeling about him”. We had that feeling in our group,
so we assumed that we were already being watched,
controlled in some way or another. My encounter with the GDR
was no accident. after the fall
of the dictatorship in Argentina all things
related to communism, socialism were prohibited. Here in Berlin, I could see socialism
from another point of view. Besides, living in a commune made me interested
in the Communist way of thinking. I just wanted to see how it all worked. When I happened to come to East Berlin, which of course was different
from the West, I saw some things
that impressed me. I could see a Socialist system – I faced that “monster
that devours children”, as the saying went
at the time of the dictatorship. And it was certainly very different,
but not in the way I had expected. I can still remember going by train
from Chelyabinsk to Moscow, and next, from Moscow
to Frankfurt an der Oder, where father was to pick us up,
though why in Frankfurt I have no idea. For me, a six-year-old boy,
going abroad for the first time was a big deal. I remember getting to the hotel… And my father had on him
those jelly sweets from East Germany, you know, like jelly bears, but those were
little raspberries and blackberries. We didn’t have them in the Soviet Union, I was very impressed.
I was just a kid back then. When I see the town
I spent so much time in in such disrepair, with so many buildings in ruins, with the military base and barracks
abandoned, I… I feel sort of sad… It’s a shame it turned out like that, and that we had
to leave everything behind, and that things ended up that way. I remember my country and that town
in much better condition. Yes, the areas where the Germans now live are all very nice and beautiful. And I agree that the Russian troops
had to withdraw from here, at least, some of the troops, but not the way it was done. It reminds me of a hasty retreat, as if we had lost, surrendered
and fled. That’s the way it feels to me. It would have been fine,
had they allowed me to work in West Germany,
or in Africa. I would have come back.
But they wouldn’t let me go. They offered me jobs in the West. I had to put in a request
for an exit permit every time, but they always turned me down. I even seriously considered
jumping over the wall. I thought: “Ok, if I get caught
I will go to jail, I will serve a couple of years,
and then my people will buy me out”. I thought I should set about arranging it,
and discussed it with my friends. When I first saw the wall close up
from the Western side, and that was
on my very first day there… We went
to the Kreuzberg observation tower. There you could go up
and see the other side. And that’s when I found out
that there were actually two walls. And in between them
there was this restricted zone. People called it the Death Strip. There were self-firing guns there,
and a lot of people died there. The zone was patrolled,
they shot at people there, there were dogs running around… And that zone was really wide,
far more than 10 metres! It looked 50 metres wide
or even more. And on that first day I realised that had I tried to jump across the wall I would have been killed. One of my friends, who knew Toni,
he said to me: “Roma, stop it, there’s probably a better way out
that doesn’t involve you going to jail.” That’s how my story with Toni started. To cross the border you had to pay
an “entrance fee”, as we called it. You had to exchange 25 marks,
that was obligatory, and your visa cost another 5 marks. 25 marks was a lot of money
in the East, it was hard to spend all that
in half a day. You could take your friends out,
leave some small tips, you could go to a restaurant… And when it was time to go back
we would just buy food – sausages, cheese…
Everything was incredibly cheap there. And we would go back home to West Berlin
carrying food in plastic bags. Once one of my East friends told me:
“Could you bring us some hashish”. He gave me money,
I went back to West Berlin, bought some hashish, put it in my bag, and got to the border crossing point. I didn’t know that anyone
caught with hashish at the border would face six years in prison. Every time I got in here
I felt so strange… It reminded me
of passport control checks in Argentina during the dictatorship. The circumstances were different,
but you felt the same uncertainty. Though I certainly did not feel fear. You would put your passport here, and the officer
would look into your eyes as they would do to check your face
against your passport photo. Then they would ask some questions,
then stamp your passport, and you were free to go. So, I was crossing the border,
hashish in my bag, and one of my friends with me. I was really nervous. They checked me,
nobody noticed anything. I was running out thinking
“It’s worked!” And suddenly I heard
one of them yelling “Hold it!” My heart sank. I turned back, and he said:
“Your passport. Have a nice day.” And I went about my business. And right on Friedrichstrasse
we bought a bottle of vodka, I took a sip,
and felt a little less nervous. We got into the car, and my friends say:
“Here, eat some cookies”. I took a little bite not knowing
it was a space cookie. So I ended up drunk
and completely stoned at the same time. Toni came to East Germany,
to East Berlin. We picked him up and we all went to my place
on Sonntagstrasse. People always got together
at someone’s place. And one day
we all met up on Sonntagstrasse, where she lived back then
with her boyfriend. It was a party or something,
and somehow that topic came up, because some people
were about to get married… Someone said:
“Maybe you should marry Roma, so that she too could
go to the West?” We talked everything through.
And then we became close friends. We trusted each other
right from the start. I knew I could count on him.
And he could on me. At first I was surprised,
but then I thought: “Why not?” I thought through all the pros and cons
for myself. I think, above all,
he wanted to help someone. And it wasn’t bad for him either
to marry a German, whether it was someone
from the West or the East. In West Berlin I asked my girlfriend
what she thought about it, and she said: “Well, of course!
It’s a good thing to do”. My other friends said: “No, don’t do it,
you’ll get yourself into trouble”. And then I realised
that I was in a game with the world’s most dangerous
secret services. The people on the other side, the Stasi,
they were no amateurs. And I was excited,
I felt, like, “We’re gonna make it!” There was a thrill to it.
“I’ll do it!” It was 1987,
or the beginning of 1988. My mum and I were shopping here,
on Leipziger Strasse in East Berlin, and we approached the street
leading to Checkpoint Charlie. On the East Berlin side, there were
huge border security posts. You couldn’t really see through them,
you couldn’t see anything in particular, but you could see buildings
behind the wall in West Berlin. I can still remember looking at them,
thinking: “Huh, what if…” But my mum said:
“Get those thoughts out of your head, son, that will never change”. But I thought: “No,
one day something will happen and I’m going to make it
to the other side”. I saw the wall when we went
to pick up my grandmother at the railway station. She used to come to visit us
from the USSR to East Germany, where my parents worked. We got a flat tyre. The car was an old GAZ M21,
and while they were changing the wheel I stood there
looking at that grey concrete structure. My thoughts were along the line of: “This is our territory,
over there is someone else’s. Here, it’s friends; there, it’s foes.” Who was friend and who was foe was something we were taught
from they day we were born: in the West they were enemies,
in the East they were friends. And we, the Soviet Union, were good,
and the East Germans were, too, and the West Germans were something
it was better to stay away from. We tried to move here in 1992. Germany had already been united,
and the difference was striking. Some changes were for the better: everything was available –
cars, clothes, any brand of jeans… But I could see
that some people were depressed. They felt
sort of cast-off, forsaken, because many of the factories
had closed down, the military still here in 1992
were uncertain of what was next… It felt like chaos,
a sort of shambles, and there was disappointment
among East Germans. Their attitude towards the Russians
was also changing. Before, we had been
the people of a powerful state dominating half of Europe, and then in 1992
they saw us as people from a second-rate country,
no use to anyone. As if they were asking:
“What are you doing here? Who are you?” I went to a regular German school. For the first three months
I couldn’t understand a single word. I was sort of… on my own. I neither fitted into the community.
nor did I want to be part of it. I don’t think I was bullied. I wouldn’t let anyone bully me,
I could’ve held my own anyway. That wasn’t really
something you’d do here. It was a regular morning. I was getting ready for work,
working out my plans for the day, this, that and the other… I heard the doorbell,
and then a knock at the door. I thought: “Who on earth could it be?
It’s way to early for a visit. Even a colleague
wouldn’t come at this time in the morning. I opened the door, and there stood three young men
in jackets and ties, with stern faces. “We are from
the Ministry of National Security, please come with us,
we just need to clarify a few matters”. I turned around,
one of them cleared his throat. I asked if anything was wrong, and he opened his jacket
and pointed at his gun. It was kind of weird. We got to the street,
and there was a Lada and there was another man sat inside, so one of the young men
sat in the front, the other two –
on each side of me in the back. They drove me
to the Stasi headquarters in Rostock. They questioned me for hours. “Have you done this?”
“No”. “Did you do that?”
“No”. And in the afternoon
one of them said: “Ok, it’s decided:
you’re going to stay here”. The very next day
after I applied for a marriage licence they started surveilling me. Two “comrades” now watched me constantly,
right in front of my apartment on Sonntagstrasse. And then it all started. Very soon they made contact with me. I was invited
to the Friedrichschein District Council. There was a special floor there
where the general public wasn’t allowed. I went into a room
exactly like this one I’m sitting in now if a little larger. There was only a table
and two chairs in there, and in came a particular woman – with a stiff “no jokes” air about her. And she started questioning me. I had to come to see her three times. And I had to be on my guard. The second time I came,
she asked me the very same questions she had asked me on the first occasion. I had to make sure
I gave the same answers, and be careful
not to contradict myself. She asked me over and over, why I wanted to get married. Why Toni in particular?
Why an Italian? Why did Toni, who was born in Argentina,
have an Italian passport? Things like that. We were planning our wedding,
we talked about it every time we met. We had some pretty cool plans. And we carefully
acted out the whole thing: every time I went back to West Berlin
through Checkpoint Charlie she walked me there,
and we kissed and hugged each other. We played our roles pretty well, you know. We didn’t suspect anybody
in our Bohemian group could be ratting us out to the Stasi. But later, after the wall fell,
we found out, there might have even been
a couple of people connected to the Stasi. They couldn’t get me: I was self-employed,
I couldn’t be pressured through work. So they tried to intimidate my family. They had worked out
that I usually connected my parents by phone. I phoned them at work
from a public telephone box. At the time my mum worked
as a nursery teacher in a kindergarten, and I called either her
or my father, who worked in a factory. And one day a man turned up at the factory and struck up a conversation
with my father: “It’s come to our attention that your daughter
is planning to leave East Germany. We would really appreciate it
if she stopped calling you here.” They made it clear to my parents that I was considered a traitor
to my country. My parents were beyond shocked. We worked out another way to communicate, so I could get through
to my parents anytime if there was something urgent. The Stasi didn’t succeed –
my parents were still there for me. No, I was never afraid. I wasn’t scared, no. It would have perhaps been
only natural to be somewhat scared, but honestly,
I always felt protected here. “I am from the West,
what could possibly happen to me?” A time and date was set for the wedding. I came to the border control point
with my girlfriend. She went through to Friedrichstrasse, but to me the border guard said:
“Back to West Berlin, please”. What time it was,
can you remember? I think we arranged the ceremony
for 11 in the morning. I was to meet him at 9. I was there on time. But there was no Toni. There were no mobile phones back then,
we couldn’t call one another. I waited till 10am. Still no sign of Toni. I waited till 10:30. I couldn’t even call my parents
at the registry office, and our friends
were waiting for us, too. Everybody was wondering:
“Where are Roma and Toni?” I decided to try to get there
through Checkpoint Charlie. I got the same there:
“Back to West Berlin, please”. I was, like:
“You can’t! I am getting married!” “Back to West Berlin, please” –
they said with expressionless faces. I left and waited a little while. Then I got to Friedrichstrasse,
and waited until the guards swapped over. And I thought:
“This is the best time to do it.” I went in and they let me through. My girlfriend had to wait for me
for over an hour, not knowing what the problem was,
as there were no mobile phones. I think he only appeared at 10:30. We had about 20 minutes
to get there. We raced through Berlin,
just as fast as we could. We got to the registry office
at literally a couple of minutes to 11. Everybody sighed a collective “phew!..” There were so many people! My parents were the only ones
who were used to “regular” weddings. I’ll never forget that. At the registry office
they always put some music on. I handed them a cassette and said,
it was already in the right place, they could just press play. She hits the play button, and it was a great Rolling Stones song. In East Germany! Can you imagine?! My father just gasped. He froze to the spot,
he couldn’t believe what he hearing. But it was too late. And the registry woman – you should have seen
the look on her face! She was shocked,
but she couldn’t turn off the music – the ceremony had already started. We moved here from Chelyabinsk.
What amazed me most of all? Punks, for one. They looked so exotic,
especially to someone from Chelyabinsk. People with mohawks,
their hair dyed bright colours, dressed up like rock stars. To us, their clothes
even looked a bit dirty. They french-kissed openly
on the streets, which for us was basically pornography, we weren’t used to that,
nobody behaved like that back home. Here there were different standards
of what was appropriate. Only Germans lived in this house. We would sometimes play
practical jokes on them, we were just kids back then. We would ring a doorbell,
the buttons were outside, so we would ring them
and then hide in the bushes. We sometimes had German swear words
hurled at us, but we didn’t understand what they meant. I wonder if there’s anything
written over here from Soviet times… Wow, there are lots of them still here! “Saturday is Neptune day.” “Demob ’91”, “Demob ’89”, “Lena’s off to the [Soviet] Union”. What they charged me with was planning to attempt to flee
East Germany. “Planning to attempt to flee”,
meaning I hadn’t even done anything! The martial arts organisation
that I had contacted was connected to NATO,
and so was considered hostile. Which meant I was considered
a traitor to my country. They didn’t even tell my mum
that I’d been detained, and at first
she didn’t know where I was. I knew that they had taken Ralph. I didn’t know how it had happened, but I knew he’d been taken. It felt so strange… And then I noticed a Trabant
driving by me all the time, each time it passed
the driver looked at me through the window. That’s why I knew something had happened. I could feel it in my guts. And Ralph wasn’t there. What else could I think? I could only think that the Stasi
had arrested him. I had an awful night, and next morning
I went straight to the Stasi headquarters, I showed them my passport
and was led to an office. The office had no door handle
on the inside, you couldn’t leave
without someone opening the door for you. Then a Stasi walked in. He asked me why it had occurred to me that my son could be there. I was so stressed out and confused, I don’t even remember what I answered. She had to go there a number of times
to ask about me. In the end they told her
that I was a dangerous criminal, that I had planned to use
my martial arts skills, that an organisation in the West
had taught and trained me, and that, when the “bad capitalists”
launch their attack, I would have been activated as a soldier or something, I don’t know
what other fantasies they’d dreamt up, about how I would work
against the communists or fight them. They also told me that in a socialist state
I didn’t need martial arts, because it was safe here,
and there was no need for them in the workers’ and farmworkers’ paradise. They were only needed
on the other side, in the slowly dying capitalist world where everything was going
downhill anyway. I spent ten months
in a special interrogation prison, and when they’d finished interrogating me,
I was brought to court. The public was not allowed in
for the hearings. The state prosecutor said to me:
“You are accused of doing this and that. How do you respond?” I said: “No, I haven’t done any of this”. He said I had already been proven guilty. At the end of the mock trial
they read out the sentence: a prison sentence
of three years and six months for the contact I’d had with West Berlin. They restricted our contact
with East Germans, but when we did have contact –
on Soviet public holidays, for example – they were always friendly to us, they treated us well. And we were
friendly and respectful towards them, too. I didn’t understand why
we couldn’t talk to the Germans. My parents just said to me: “Don’t tell anybody
that you go to judo classes. Otherwise you can land us in big trouble.” They might start questioning them
about how I was doing that, or we could even be given
24 hours to leave. It’s hard to explain these things
to a six-year-old, but somehow I got it, and didn’t tell a soul,
not even my friends. Amazing! We used to be quite patriotic. We were raised that way. We never even thought
of defecting to the West. We might have been interested to see
how things were going on over there, but we never considered switching sides.
Never. We were transported to Cottbus, where there was a prison controlled by
the East German secret services. It all really started on the way there. Prisoner carriages was always attached
to regular trains. A little girl on the train
asked her mum: “Mum, who are they? Murderers?” One of the men sat next to me
was an artist, another was a plumber,
and another – a surgeon… We all were regular people. Then we were transferred to a truck
and we were driven to prison. Then I thought: “Jesus,
this is really it, I’m in the Big House. How could it have happened to me?
What am I going to do? What’s going to happen to me next?” Some people were really panicking. When I was arrested
I didn’t know how it worked. One day I was sitting in a room,
much like this one. They threw a letter on the table. All four officers were standing around,
arms crossed, sombre faces. “What is this all about?!” I took the letter and read it. The letter was from Dr. Wolfgang Vogel.
I had heard the name before. He was world famous spy trade agent
between the KGB and the CIA. He had acted as an agent
in all the spy exchanges. The letter said: “This is to inform you
that we are taking over your defence”. Big signature underneath. It also said that he could even
legally defend me in court in West Berlin, something no other lawyer in East Germany
could do. Wolfgang Vogel! It sounded like something
out of a fairytale. To this very day I haven’t found out
how it came about that he took over my case. I signed the letter,
here is my signature in the corner. It was December 1988. I wrote
that I’d familiarised myself with the letter, and my own name. I think I was just smiling, thinking:
“Wow, it could still happen, I might be free again”. We had reserved tables in a café
for 20 or 30 people. We had a great meal,
and then we went for a walk to the East Berlin Zoo. It is still open today. We drank coffee,
had a look at the animals, had fun. And in the evening, at about 6pm,
we all met up here. Everyone was welcome.
There were 60-70 of us. It’s all a blur to me.
I don’t remember a thing about the party. I think we had a joint outdoors somewhere
and then went home. After that I didn’t come to East Berlin. I waited for whatever was going
to happen next. After our wonderful wedding
I had to wait for my exit permit documents. At Friedrichshain District Council
I was told that my permit could be issued any day, and once it was issued
they would inform me by telegram. So I had to stay home and wait. They couldn’t tell me
exactly when. But then I found out
telegrams always came before 1pm. So after 1pm I could go and perform. I could go to Leipzig, for example,
give an evening show and come back late at night. And eventually it happened: at 12:55pm I got the telegram. It said I had to present myself
at that stupid place at 2pm. So I had to leave that very minute. I had a car, so I left immediately
and got there on time. There they give you the documents,
and take your passport. And you had to leave East Germany
the same day by 10pm. It even stated which border control point I had to use to leave. It was Tränenpalast on Friedrichstrasse. So, when I got there, it was time for me to leave –
a glorious moment. I couldn’t be completely sure that
they would let me out, even though I had a visa. They had already checked my suitcase
and everything in it. And the final act came here. The officer sat there,
staring at me maliciously… For me it was like this: back there were all my friends,
and out there was freedom. I was sad because
I had to leave my friends behind, and I didn’t know
when I would see them again. There was freedom, and I could at last
fulfil all my plans, the dream I’d had since I was a child. But sitting there was a man
who could just say “no”, and then I would have had to stay. I was thinking to myself:
“Don’t open your mouth, stand still, don’t even breathe. Give him your permit,
your one-time exit permit, you’ll have time to breathe
when you get there”. And then I got my documents back,
and was free to go into that door. And that door led me to my new life,
where all I needed was my trapeze. Then one of my friends
called me. And he says: “Hi, blah-blah-blah…
Roma is crossing the border today”. I think it was two hours
before she did. So I headed to Friedrichstrasse, and out came Roma with a suitcase
and a Tyrolean harmonica. She had bought it because in the West
you could sell it for a pretty penny. I left the GDR with a single case. I couldn’t take more
because of the restrictions. In the case I had my trapeze
and a couple of props that I needed for my perfomances, plus some clothes, just enough
for the first few days, just the basics. I didn’t know
when to expect the rest of my luggage. It had to be sent by train
and it took over a month to arrive. Can you imagine?
From East Berlin to West Berlin! So I arrived here, at 26 Bockhstrasse, 26
with just one trunk with me. She stayed in West Berlin. I don’t remember how long
I travelled around South America, but when I got back,
she had already moved out of my apartment. I had another bit of luck: I was the only trapeze artist
out there. My first steps in the professional world
were a success. This is my trapeze.
I designed it myself. I’ve had it since 1985. The ironwork is custom-made,
and I braided the ropes myself. The braiding style here
is pretty unique, so the ropes hold my weight better. It is a combination of a Washington trapeze
and a traditional one. To this very day
no one has done that. Or rather,
no one has repeated what I made. It’s hard to learn
how to perform on this trapeze. But there I was performing on it. This is what it looks like. And here are the anchors. This would have been the wrong way
to go up the stairs. because if you cut the corner
too close to the wall, you might come
face to face with a guard, and that would have meant
getting into trouble. The least you might get
was a verbal reprimand. But you might also
get kicked down the stairs, or get hit
with a bunch of keys. So you always tried
to go up in a wide circle so you could see who was coming down. And if it was an officer,
you had to greet him. You couldn’t just walk by. This office belonged to a senior guard. We also called him “the Educator”. He was meant to teach us how to be good communist people, so we wouldn’t lurk
on the fringes of society and learnt to be human beings again. Oh, we had these aprons
in our Soviet schools. Oh, look here – this is Yak-40. I went to school when I was six. In the USSR we didn’t do this, but in East Germany
kids used to go to school with these big paper bags
full of sweets. On the first day of school
they would bring bags of sweets. The sweets were a treat
from their parents. And the tradition
is still live and kicking here. But it didn’t exist in the Soviet Union,
so it was something special for me. It might be thanks to that that I’ve never forgotten
my first year at school. Once I got a package
with a bottle of shampoo inside. When I got back to the cell,
the sink was full of shampoo bubbles. I came here to ask what had happened,
and they told me that the bottle had been
over the amount allowed by 20ml. So they’d just had poured
the whole bottle down the sink. That’s why I didn’t have any shampoo
in my last month here. It may not sound like a big deal, but they did those little things
to made us feel as if we kind of didn’t exist. You wouldn’t think it was important but there was actually
a whole science to it. Can you see this bed sheet?
The squares on it had to line up. But here you can see
another row of squares, and that alone
would have got you in trouble. And here the edges are far too slack, and the sheet is not tucked in
properly, under the mattress, and not to mention the quilt,
which has been left in a bit of a state… It might seem like pathetic little details: you’d think, surely they had something better
to be getting on with than checking things like that
every single day. But yes, they did. And if you did something wrong,
everyone in the cell would pay the price. Everybody would be punished. This large building
with boarded-up windows used to be one
of the Cottbus prison workhouses. I used to work in there. We used to make parts
for Pentacon cameras. The company used cheap prison labour, and then sold their product
through catalogues in West Germany. Just imagine:
dozens of people were working on huge pressing machines
making tiny components for cameras. You had to make thousands of those
per shift. If you managed to make
100% of what you were supposed to do, you were in trouble. 110% was not so bad. If you made 120% you could call it a day. There was the Progress factory,
which produced Progress buses, and a motor vehicle repair depot
which repaired KRAZ trucks, as well as Ural, GAZ and ZIL trucks. They used to park the trucks up here,
right by the depot gate. The gate used to be here, and here was the access control booth
guarded by a soldier. I remember a poster
hanging on the wall showing the military uniforms
of the Warsaw Pact countries. Look, the steps have survived. People from our town used to walk up here
every day to go to work. One morning we all lined up in this corridor
in our uniforms, ready to march to work. As we marched down the hallway
we noticed that the guards were very nervous. Some of them were holding
rubber truncheons – or “the communist directives”,
as we used to call them. We thought,
something must have happened outside. There we saw yet more guards,
armed with AK-47s, and their dogs
didn’t have their muzzles on. There were some older guys among us, and one of them just said: “Shit!” We asked him:
“Why? What’s up?” And he said: “It looks as if German history
is to be repeated”. We were younger,
I was 25 years old then. So a 60-year-old guy explained to us: “I think they’re going
to put us up against the wall”. And we were truly terrified. One of the Pentacon company representatives
turned up – he looked really happy –
all smiles, he stank of booze… We thought: “Why is he drunk at work?”
It was very unusual. And he told us:
“Oh, guys, I’ve had such a good time!” We said: “Good for you”. And he: “Guess where I was”. We said we had no idea. “I was on Kurfürstendamm”. It was one of the main streets
in West Berlin. And we were, like:
“Kurfürstendamm, my arse!” But he went on:
“I’ve drunk so much beer. People are celebrating!” He might as well have told us that
he’d seen aliens or taken a spin in a time machine. That’s how crazy it sounded to us. I bought myself a saxophone,
I wanted to learn to play. On the 8th of November 1989
I composed my first piece of music, and I could even write it out. Then I drank some beer and went to bed. Suddenly I heard
someone knocking on my door. It was a former neighbour
from the place I’d lived before. He said: “The wall has fallen!” I said: “Well, ok.
Have a nice evening. Sleep well!” I went back to bed, thinking:
“What a load of nonsense!” Then I heard cars honking their horns. I looked out of the window and saw streams of cars driving
along Kotbusser Tor, sounding their horns. I thought it was a Turkish wedding. But it wasn’t. In the morning there were drunken,
aggressive people all over the place. They were all fighting… …throwing bottles around… It was, as we called it,
the beginning of the end. Our life changed completely… …and for good. Of course I’m glad the wall came down! I’m glad we’re all free now.
And I hope it’ll stay that way. That we’ll all be able to live in peace
and enjoy the freedom. I want our future to be like this: peace, freedom and no war. We moved out in June 1989, and the wall fell in November. The military were certainly disappointed, because the way
the troops were being withdrawn – was a real tragedy. It was a tragedy for the whole army
and the Soviet people. And as for general public, well, if you are a patriot it hurts to see
your country falling apart. And it hurt all of us. As much as I can remember,
and I was still pretty young back then, people were sort of uncertain o
f their future. Everybody expected change, they were pretty much longing for change. But that the change which came
would be so bad, no one had suspected. I mean, everyone understood
that we needed some kind of change, but what happened to our country
couldn’t have been worse. Nikita Satarev returned to Berlin in 1992;
graduated from a Moscow university; he’s married. He lives mostly in Germany,
where his son was born. The wall didn’t fall,
it was just moved to the Russian border. Where are the NATO forces now?
On the Russian border, that’s it. And the stand-off is still exactly as it was,
nothing has changed. Or rather, to us, Russians,
things have changed for the worse, as their troops are now
even closer to our borders. Burkhart Veigel became
a high-profile physician. He plays violin. In 2012 he was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. My first thought was I would like to dedicate my award
to my teachers. It was they who taught me
the right way to act. By that time, many of them were either
already dead or very old. And I also thought, I would like
to dedicate it to the activists gunned down against the wall,
and all the people who were killed there. I don’t need an award. What for? Toni Hervida is now the CEO
of a video production company. He is happily married
and has two sons. Roma and I forgot that we’d got married. Then she wanted a divorce,
so we went to a lawyer and got divorced. She thinks about me
day and night, I think. To us, the Wall meant protection,
but not from communism or socialism… It was a form of natural protection to us,
like a mother’s womb. We lived in a beautiful world where, for us, there were no borders… It’s the Easterners who had the border
they couldn’t cross. But the district I lived in then,
Kreuzberg, was completely surrounded by the wall, wherever you went, the wall was there. It was just there,
and we learnt to live with the fact. Ralph Haenel says he barely survived
a plot by former Stati agents to poison him in the 1990s. He then moved to live in Canada. He is now a kung fu instuctor
and a father of two. Today, I am even
sort of grateful for it. Thanks to that I learnt
so many life lessons. I was helped by people
who I could never have expected would help me. I made friends in places
I couldn’t have imagined it would happen. I got the opportunity to live
on a different continent, to raise my children there
and tell them my stories, and to show them the places
where it all happened. Sometimes things change
even in the course of one generation. My experience tells me
that nothing lasts forever. So even now, if there’s
some distressing or sad situation in which families are torn apart
by borders, there will be an end to it. Roma Hervida has travelled half the world
with her trapeze. She had to stop performing
in the Cirque du Soleil due to injury. She is currently studying canine psychology
and works as a dog trainer. I’ve been on the Cape of Good Hope
and seen the two oceans. Actually, you can’t see
that there are two of them, but it doesn’t matter –
I’ve fulfilled my childhood dream. Today’s situation
is quite stressful, restrictions and bans everywhere… I only hope that
history is not going to be repeated. I just want to say I wish there will be
peace, freedom and no war in the world. That’s my wish. The Cottbus prison
where Ralph served his sentence has since been turned
into a human rights museum. Where Soviet defence facilities
near Wunsdorf once stood there is a solar electric plant now. The remains of the Wall are now visited
by a growing number of tourists. In 2018 it was visited by
more than one million people.

56 comments

  1. ❗ ВЕЛИЧАЙШАЯ ОШИБКА СТАЛИНА – ЭТО ОСВОБОЖДЕНИЕ ЕВРОПЫ ОТ ФАШИЗМА ❗ ЧТО ПОЛУЧИЛ СССР И СОВЕТСКИЙ НАРОД ЗА ОСВОБОЖДЕНИЕ ЕВРОПЫ ОТ ФАШИЗМА? НИЧЕГО ❗

  2. 25:40 этот человек описал нынешнее состояние всего русского народа

  3. USSR wanted the whole Word to turn into prison. Forntunty it was broken. But that russian miss it – damned imperialist.

  4. Предали своих же немцев ФРГ просто поглотила ГДР предали всех от того и позор и ненависть

  5. Довольно актуально именно для нас… ). Тогда, в годы развитого социализма, мы не могли доверять всем этим проплаченным пропагандистам из “Правды”. Почему мы должны были им доверять, если самостоятельно на могли проверить то, что они говорили о “погибающем капитализме”? И однако, главное из этого фильма совсем в другом, а именно, как сказал один из свидетелей, что “… один из наших знакомых “стучал” на нас…”. Та же самая история была и в СССР – так же один из наших знакомых “стучал” и на нас… ). Может быть даже самый близкий…))). Настоящие артисты…). Мы это знаем не из сторонних источников…). И такую “проблему”, пожалуй, надо поставить именно на первое место. Совершенно очевидно, все диктатуры держатся именно на “стукачах”… ).

  6. Сын оккупанта искренни сожалеет что его отец ушёл с чужой, оккупированной земли. Это генетическая болезнь, или это результат промывания мозгов с рождения?

  7. А чего тогда этот сраный патриот в Германии живет? Пусть валит к себе. А то родину так легко любить в отдаленных и прекрасных местах.

  8. Радость, разочарование, безразличие или обида? Герои нашего фильма по-разному относятся к Берлинской стене и по-разному оценивают последствия ее падения. Чья позиция ближе вам?

  9. Документальный спецпроект к годовщине падения Берлинской стены на нашем сайте: https://bbc.in/34GvjWd

  10. Отличный фильм, даже то, что добавили русского дурочка – отлично. Сторону зла тоже нужно показывать…. жалеет он, что нато возле границы с Россий, ты, блин, живешь в нато, и чушь несёшь.

  11. В ГДР пропаганда рассказывала что на западе фашисты. Но фашисты могли приезжать в ГДР, а жители в ГДР на запад нет. Идиотизм совка

  12. Очередная перезапись перезаписи истории….заколебали……за деньги ещё и не того наговоиишь…

  13. Мда, можно вытащить парня из Челябинска, но Челябинск из парня никогда не вытащить… "Танки уезжали и в этом чувствовалась некая безысходность" – ты серьёзно? Немцы плакали от радости, танцевали на родной земле и светились от счастья – а он чувствовал "безысходность"! Безысходность в чём? Что больше не может быть для этих людей жандармом и держать их на мушке? Стена защищала нас от стран НАТО, поэтому я живу в стране НАТО… Где логика? Немцы, да подарите ему защищённость – пинком под зад в родной Челябинск – пусть будет в полной безопасности!

  14. Разделение Европы никчему хорошему не привело. Но ушли советские войска пришли американские. ЕС стал вассалом США.Даже сейчас нету единство в Западной Европе.Европейские политики думают лишь о своих политических амбициях а не о своих людях.Ставить всякие стены как физические так и мысленные заканчивается плохо для всех.

  15. И журналисты В.В.С. скажыте …. где делись офицеры внешней разведки и внутреней ? .Это были и молдые и пожилые и пенсионого возраста …ну с последними ясно … на пенсию , а вот помоложе …. нет…нет их невыгнали , они прешли западую Германию …где в своё время так ненавидели и преследовали граждан ГДР и при малейшом подозрений впихивали в тюрму. И теперь наедине с западными колегами одну тоже работу исполняют …. и поэтому кремлёвская кгб имеет в Германий " друзей и единомышлеников".

    And the journalists B.B.C. tell me …. where did the foreign intelligence and internal officers go? . These were both young and old, and of retirement age … well, with the latter it’s clear … retired, but younger …. no … no, they were not expelled, they crossed west Germany … where at one time they hated and persecuted the citizens of the GDR, and at the slightest suspicion they shoved them into a prison. And now, alone with Western colleagues, they also do one job …. and therefore the Kremlin KGB has in Germany "friends and like-minded people."

  16. BBC, штази плохо, кгб плохо то что происходило с личностью в СССР плохо, НО! " Видом Берлина доволен!" Немцы получили то что заслужили за 2 мировых войны, за фашизм, за свою слепую веру, за свою слепую исполнительность, и не надо показывать ЭТО без того что было ДО!

  17. принцип русских "разделяй и властвуй" и распространяй свои идеи. вот также поступали у себя в империи и с Кореей.

  18. Огромное спасибо за фильм! Я служил в Вюнсдорфе в 1989-90 годах. ГДР и ЗГВ – это раковая опухоль на теле Германии. Я был рад тогда, когда эта мерзость рухнула. Помню надпись на одном из домов в восточном Берлине: " Jetzt Perestroyka"

  19. Единая германия – раковая опухоль на теле европейского континента.

  20. По сравнению с сегодняшней пропагандой советская была – легкая разминка. Может быть сейчас стал старше, но вижу, что сейчас людям мозги промывают из всех средств массовой информации, и, собственно, просто никого не слушаю. При СССР мы посмеивались над ритуальными фразами пропагандистов, очевидно было лицемерие позднего социализма, но теперь, пожив при так называемой демократии, вижу, что социализм был очень человечным и прогрессивным строем, а те недостатки, которые проявились с середины 70-х надо было исправлять мирным путем, и не надо было ничего ломать. Кроме Берлинской стены. Ее можно было снести и без ломки социалистического лагеря. А лицемерия при "демократии" оказалось гораздо больше. Ппропаганда – сплошным потоком из всех средств массовой информации, где-то завуалировано, но чаще всего без обиняков, напористо и грубо. Уважения к личности при социализме было гораздо больше. Сейчас в западных демократиях заменяют реальное уважение к чужому мнению искусственным понятием толерантности и внедряют его насильно и против воли.

  21. Да… Восточной Европе удалось избавиться от этого советского морока…. А вот России и другим бывшим республикам СССР – похоже еще не скоро удастся выбраться из этого болота…

  22. Женщина говорит,что у нее отняли возможность съездить к родственникам на запад.А ничего,что ваши родственники отняли у наших людей миллионы жизней?

  23. Русско-украинская война. Закоытие границы. Пропагандистские передачи центральноготелевидения .Ничего не меняется!!!

  24. Зачем в передачу включили эти бредни русского, слушать не возможно😝😝😝😝. Сидел бы в Челябинске и тогда бы рассказывал про плохое НАТО

  25. Спасибо, ВВС, отличная работа! Какие истории! Все со счастливым концом, кроме одной. Очень жаль Никиту, ему сумели выстроить ту стену внутри него самого. Но и здесь есть надежда, что она истает когда то.

  26. Всё прошлое плохо, а всё новое? И при чём тут Аргентина? Я просто удивлен!!! Гашиш он таскал (!!!)! Короче очередная пропаганда!!!

  27. Патриотизм – пережиток истории! инструмент манипуляции. Все мы – граждане мира и никто не в праве устанавливать границы для перемещения человека по Земле на которой он родился

  28. Я понимаю что история не терпит сослагательных, но интересно как бы немцы поделили москву с американцами, если бы наше контрнаступление из-под Москвы захлебнулось. Мне думается всё было бы страшнее.

  29. Фильм мне очень понравился. Потрясло то, что стукачами были близкие. Это так ужасно. И вообще , лишать людей свободы передвижения и свободы выбора – это отвратительно. Русский странный очень, какой-то мисо-суп у него в голове🙈

  30. Про того молодого совка, который живет заграницей, но скучает по СССР, жалеет об окончании оккупации Германии, что люди обрели свободу:
    "Чем меньше у человека оснований говорить о своём собственном превосходстве, тем больше он готов утверждать, что превосходством обладает его страна, его религия, его раса и его "священное дело". Эрик Хоффер «Человек убежденный» 1952 г.

  31. Какое счастье видеть как засох и развалился кусочек несвободы Счастья вам

  32. прадед мой принимал активное участие в революц.событиях в России 1917г….бабуля свято верила в идеалы коммунизма…они хотели Равенства,Свободы…а получился ужас для моей Родины и для всего мира…и призрак этого ужаса д.с.п терзает Россию и это очень больно осознавать

  33. Зачем снимать то, чего уже давно нет? Ладно история. Но подобное и похуже творится просто сейчас в Палестине.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *