Crossing the border
Andreas Schumann decided to flee from the GDR after he had realized that his career possibilities were rather limited in the communist country. As an employee of the Water-Management Directorate, he was able to illegally obtain a permit to cross the border and under the false pretext of taking water samples from a border river, on November 3, 1988, he set out to the border. He recalls: “Earlier that day, I was picked up by car, a driver took me to the border where I had to report, my border pass was checked and I had to submit my papers. I put on my working clothes and accompanied by two border guards of the National People’s Army, I set my foot onto this salient of the sovereign territory of the GDR. Behind me, the fence was closed again.” Now came the tricky part of his undertaking: he had to choose the right place and the right moment to cross the border river and shake of his guards, despite the fact that this entailed risking his life. He continued: “Then I found a place that was exactly at the intersection of Czechoslovakia, East Germany and Bavaria. That was the spot where a border crossing seemed to be possible. So at that moment, I seized my opportunity. I stepped into the water, took a sample and then had to make the decision. That was the moment – back to the GDR or run in the opposite direction? If I had turned around and returned, nothing would have happened. They would have opened the fence again for me; I would have gotten into that car and would have been with my family in the evening. I decided for the second option – to run in the other direction with the risk of being shot or just caught and brought back in the effort to escape into the Federal Republic of Germany. There was nobody around for miles. It was risky and dangerous; life-threatening I’d say today.” Nevertheless, he ran and managed to shake off the soldiers and get to the other side. Luckily, they didn't open fire at him.