Kleinhaugsdorf
An Austrian village just across the Czech borders · 2054 Kleinhaugsdorf, Austria
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I’m free, I’m free, I’m free!

Available in: English | Česky

On the night of July 19, 1986, Robert Ospald and Zdeněk Pohl crossed the Czechoslovakian border illegally. The first person whom they encountered was a policeman in the village of Kleinhaugsdorf. “Suddenly, a police man appeared out of nowhere. For us, of course, this was a shock. Will they hand us over to Czechoslovakia, we wondered. They’ll at least investigate us and make a horrible fuss about it, just as they do on our side of the border. I said: ‘Franky, we can’t simply pass him’. It was always better to approach a policeman yourself when you couldn’t bypass him anymore. So I told him: ‘Good morning’ and he just shrugged his shoulders. So I tried to speak to him in Czech, Polish and Slovak,” Ospald recalled. Finally Ospald asked the policeman something a German: “Of course, I didn’t understand a word he said. So I told him: ‘Sorry, I don’t,' to let him know that I didn’t speak German. He again shrugged his shoulders. Suddenly, a car arrived and I said: ‘Frankly, that’s bad, he surely has a walkie-talkie and he quietly turned it on and they’re already here now and they’re going to take us with them’. But that policeman just calmly walked to the car, got in and they were gone. And we both stood there like complete idiots, staring at the departing car, looking like two madmen. Only then did we utter the famed words: ‘I’m free, I’m free, I’m free!’”

Robert Ospald

Robert Ospald

Robert Ospald was born on July 2, 1951, in Libina. His father was a Sudeten German, his mother was Czech. At the age of three, Robert Ospald was passed into the care of foster parents, and three years later, he returned to his mother, who then raised him alone. After completing elementary school, he briefly attended a vocational school, then left it, stole the savings of his grandfather and was subsequently sentenced for the theft. He spent nine months in a prison for juvenile delinquents in Bratislava and was released prematurely because of an amnesty. Subsequently, he found himself in prison two more times, each time for petty theft. In 1985, he made his first attempt to leave communist Czechoslovakia via the Hungarian border. This attempt, however, failed and thus he would try again and again to get across the electrically charged barbed-wire entanglements. He finally succeeded on July 19, 1986. Together with Zdeněk Pohl, he crossed the border to Austria. Today, he lives in Vienna and he wrote his second book about escaping from Czechoslovakia.

Kleinhaugsdorf

Available in: English | Česky

On one side the village of Kleinhaugsdorf almost blends into the Czech border crossing Hatě. On the other side, it passes over into another village called Jetzelsdorf. Its location close to the border has always predetermined this village that is known for its vineyards and the occasional appearance of fugitive emigrants from the other side of the Iron Curtain.

Kleinhaugsdorf

On this place

I’m free, I’m free, I’m free!

I’m free, I’m free, I’m free!

Robert Ospald
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