Berlin
geteilte Stadt im Kalten Krieg · Berlin, Deutschland
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Longing for freedom

Available in: English | Deutsch

All that the nearly 18-year-old Manfred Matthies wanted to do was to get away from home. Getting away from home also meant to getting out of the GDR and to West Germany. In 1959 - before the construction of the Wall – this was still possible. All it took was a clever train ride through divided Berlin. Matthies, his mother, and sister took the rush-hour train from Magdeburg to East Berlin and they told the officials that they were on their way to visit Matthies’ brother in Greifswald - a credible explanation. In Potsdam, they changed trains for the S-Bahn. Then, instead of going all the way to the Ostbahnhof train station they got off the train at the first West-Berlin station in Wannsee. Their first stop thereafter was the reception camp for East-German refugees in Berlin-Marienfelde.

Manfred Matthies

Manfred Matthies

Manfred Matthies was born in 1941 in Magdeburg. In 1959, the nearly 18 -year-old Matthies fled with his mother and sister from Magdeburg to East Berlin and from there to West Berlin. It was only later that he learned that his mother had already been under the surveillance of the Stasi because of her contacts with the West. From West Berlin the family was sent to North Rhine-Westphalia, where Matthies worked for several years. In 1961, he went to study in West Berlin where he witnessed the construction of the Wall. Matthies and his brother then became members of a student group that assisted East-German fugitives in migrating across the border to the West. They made use of the complete repertoire of escape methods: forging passports, tunnel excavations, fleeing through the sewers, transportation in converted cars, escaping by car across the Hungarian-Austrian or Yugoslav border or in a sailboat from Poland via the Baltic Sea. By the end of December 1972, however, Matthies was arrested at a checkpoint while assisting a fugitive and sentenced to 13 years in prison. He was imprisoned in Bautzen II for a number of years and released early in 1976. Matthies then went back to West Berlin. When the Wall came down in 1989 it came as a complete surprise to him. The night when the wall collapsed, he was at the Brandenburg Gate.

Berlin

Available in: English | Deutsch

Nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg wurde Berlin gemäß der Londoner Protokolle in vier Sektoren aufgeteilt. Eine Teilung der Stadt in Ost- und West-Berlin war nicht vorgesehen und ergab sich erst aus der Konfrontation der Mächte im Kalten Krieg. Diese verfestigte sich mit der Gründung der Bundesrepublik Deutschland im Westen Deutschlands und der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik (DDR) im Osten Deutschlands im Jahr 1949. Die DDR proklamierte Berlin als Hauptstadt. Seit 1949 war West-Berlin de facto Teil der Bundesrepublik Deutschland mit einem rechtlichen Sonderstatus und Ost-Berlin de facto ein Teil der DDR. Seit dem Bau der Mauer 1961 waren Ost- und West-Berlin völlig voneinander getrennt. Der Übergang war nur für Bürger_innen der Bundesrepublik Deutschlands und West-Berlins, sowie nur an bestimmten Kontrollpunkten und bis 1972 nur in Ausnahmefällen möglich.

Berlin

On this place

Construction of the wall

Construction of the wall

Manfred Matthies
Helping fugitives to escape from the GDR

Helping fugitives to escape from the GDR

Manfred Matthies
Longing for freedom

Longing for freedom

Manfred Matthies
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