Frontier stone VIII/48
A frontier stone not far away from the Hatě and the Kleinhaugsdorf villages · Kleinhaugsdorf 30, 2054, Austria
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Down the high-voltage lines across the border

Available in: English | Česky

It was around midnight of July 18/19, 1986, when Robert Ospald began to climb on a sixty-meter-high pole supporting an overhead power line charged with 380,000 volts. Ospald and his companion Zdenek Pohl decided to escape from Communist Czechoslovakia down the overhead high-voltage lines, because the lines weren’t blocked by barbed-wire entanglements like the roads on the ground. It was raining and a thunderstorm was raging. “In such a situation, you’re not cold. The adrenalin, as they say today, is relatively high. I hung the cart on a climbing rope and then I let it go for a meter or so,” he recalled. The cart was making loud noises which scared Ospald: “I wondered what it was and I was afraid that it would reveal us. It was a sort of a screeching noise, as if you were breaking small twigs. So I pulled the cart back to me and let it loose one more time and looked at it. And although the inner wheel had a relatively small diameter I could see five or ten centimeter-long sparks flashing over to the rope.” Meanwhile, Ospald’s companion Zdenek, who was called Franky, climbed on top of the pole as well: “And he was already eager that I’d call it all off but I said: ‘Let’s go. Here we have a chance. At home, in the communism that is said to last forever with the Soviet Union, we’re going to die. I wouldn’t stand it there. I don’t have that much time.’ So we went.”

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 has written two books about escaping from Czechoslovakia.

Frontier stone VIII/48

Available in: English | Česky

At the place where the high-voltage wires cross the border between the Czech Republic and Austria today, two men escaped from communist Czechoslovakia in 1986.

Frontier stone VIII/48

On this place

Down the high-voltage lines across the border

Down the high-voltage lines across the border

Robert Ospald
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