Stories

Aš, Nový Žďár (Neuenbrand Mühlbach 25, 95100 Selb, Germany
Hay to Bavaria for beer
Hay to Bavaria for beerLeopold Tuček

The soldiers of the 10th border-guard company in Nový Žďár had to keep good visibility of the border strip in the early 1950s. In order to do so, they had to mow the hay around the wire barricade. Company commander Leopold Tuček recalls a pub on the Bavarian side of the border: “the lady that ran…

The desertion of Private Alois Bodor
The desertion of Private Alois BodorLeopold Tuček

On April 18, 1953, Private Alois Bodor deserted the 10th company of the border guard in Nový Žďár. His desertion appears to have been carefully planned. The outwardly zealous communist had the absolute confidence of his superiors. Company commander Leopold Tuček recalls: “He was an ardent party m…

Aš, railway border crossing Selbská 2736, 352 01 Aš, Czech Republic
The Train of Liberty
The Train of Liberty

One of the most famous mass escapes across the Iron Curtain happened on September 11, 1951. That day the train number 3717 went through the station in Aš-Main Station without stopping and was heading to the border. Approximately a kilometre later the station the train stopped because the engine …

Aš, state border U Nádraží 670/19, 352 01 Aš, Czech Republic
Disguised as a Rooster
Disguised as a Rooster

Jára Kohout was one of the comedy stars of the first republic and protectorate theatre and film. After February 1948 the Communists nationalized his theatre. Increasing political terror and a worsening outlook for actors forced Jára Kohout to emigrate. He wanted to go to Western Germany together …

Aš, the former customs house St2179, 95100 Selb, Germany
The encounters of the Czechoslovak border guards with…
The encounters of the Czechoslovak border guards with…

In the 1950s, there were no official contacts between the Czechoslovak border guards and their counterparts from the West and thus the encounters of the guards from the opposite sides of the border – divided by a barbed-wire barricade – were of a somewhat adventurous character. Since there was no…

Balf Balf, 9494 Sopron, Hungary
Raid in the train
Raid in the trainKatalin Mester

They took a train in Kapuvár in the company of the smuggler on November 26, 1956. Éva Nádasy, ex-wife of a former cavalry officer, decided to leave Hungary after the 1956 Hungarian revolution with her teenager daughter Katalin Mester. It was their friends’ and acquaintances’ example that convin…

Becicherecu Mare (Zrenjanin) Zrenjanin, Serbia
In Zrenjanin camp’s hospital
In Zrenjanin camp’s hospitalIngrid Alina Fotino (née Popa)

For Ingrid Popa’s family the instauration of the communism in Romania meant the beginning of a harsh persecution with many of her close relatives kept under surveillance, interrogated and imprisoned by the regime. As a result, after her father’s arrest and imprisonment in 1947, the parents dec…

Becicherecu Mic Becicherecu Mic 307040, Romania
Deported at six years old
Deported at six years oldGheorghe Cotorbai

On the night of 17-18 June 1951, within a few hours, 44,000 people, (from new-born infants to elderly people of eighty-five), from within a twenty-five-kilometer radius of the border with Yugoslavia, were taken from their homes, put on trains and taken to Bărăgan, an arid steppe in south-eastern …

Berlin Berlin, Germany
Construction of the wall
Construction of the wallManfred Matthies

Manfred Matthies moved to West Berlin in early 1961 in order to study there. A few months later, he experienced the construction of the Wall in Berlin. In the first few days, the “Wall” was nothing more than a wire-fencing. In the beginning, residents from both sides would still cross this bar…

Helping fugitives to escape from the GDR
Helping fugitives to escape from the GDRManfred Matthies

After the erection of the Wall in 1961, a large part of the West-Berlin population soon became involved in assisting people to escape from the eastern part of the city. Manfred Matthies and his brother were no exception and thus in 1961 they got involved in the activities of a student group that…

Longing for freedom
Longing for freedomManfred Matthies

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 B…

Berlin-Britz, Späthstraßenbrücke Bridge Späthstraße 41A, 12359 Berlin, Germany
Between two worlds
Between two worldsSiegfried Buchholz

Between the years 1946 – 1959, the Späthstraße Bridge served as the link between East and West Berlin for Siegfried Buchholz. On the way to school and later University, he would cross the border via this bridge every day. The application to a West-Berlin school had heavily impacted Buchholz' lif…

Berlin, Bernauer Straße/Eberswalder Straße Bernauer Straße 67, 13355 Berlin, Germany
The changes of the Berlin Wall
The changes of the Berlin WallMichael Cramer

Michael Cramer was a member of the football club in Ennepetal. The Ennepetal Football Club made a trip to West Berlin in 1963 and for this trip, his aunt gave him a camera. This was the first camera he had owned and he took some of his very first photos on the Bernauer Straβe Street. At that …

Berlin, Brandenburg Gate Brandenburg Gate, Pariser Platz, 10117 Berlin, Germany
The fall of the Wall
The fall of the WallManfred Matthies

The fall of the Wall, on 9 November 1989, came as a complete surprise to Manfred Matthies. The demonstrations in the weeks preceding it filled him with fears as he anticipated a violent crackdown on the protesters coming any minute: “the tanks will be here any minute because that’s just how it wo…

Berlin, Friedrichstraße Berlin-Friedrichstraße, 10117 Berlin, Germany
(Un)limited entry at the border crossing Friedrichstrasse
(Un)limited entry at the border crossing FriedrichstrasseHeinz-Dieter Schumacher

By moving to West Berlin in 1985, Heinz-Dieter Schumacher obtained a travel authorization and was free to travel to and from the GDR. During his numerous trips to the East, he would mostly cross the border at the Friedrichstrasse station, as he did for the first time. Before doing so, he had…

A stranger helps them on the run
A stranger helps them on the runMonika Khalaf

Monika Khalaf – ten years old at the time of their flight in 1958 – and her mother fled together from Erfurt via Berlin to the West. Their flight was prompted by two policemen who warned Khalaf's mother. The two escaped with only a single suitcase. At the Erfurt central railway station, they got …

Flight, fear and finally safety
Flight, fear and finally safetyLuise Justen

On December 22, 1958, a young girl by the name Louise Justen – barely sixteen years old at that time – fled alone by train from Eberswalde to West Germany in order to escape her brutal adoptive aunt and reunite with her mother. “In the S–Bahn, the Schupos, (members of the Schutzpolizei – note by …

Berlin, Checkpoint Charlie Zimmerstraße 20, 10969 Berlin, Germany
The military alphabet
The military alphabetMichael Cramer

During a tour of the Wall, Mr. Cramer was told by an old man where the name 'Checkpoint Charlie' comes from: “It’s derived from the U.S. military alphabet. Just as we say ‘A as Anton’ and 'B as Berta’, they say ‘A as Alpha,’ ‘B – Bravo,’ ’ C – Charlie.’ And Point Alpha was just the first - the mo…

Berlin, Sandkrugbrücke Bridge Invalidenstraße 50-51, 10557 Berlin-Tiergarten, Germany
Arrested while he was helping fugitives to escape across…
Arrested while he was helping fugitives to escape across…Manfred Matthies

Since the construction of the Wall in 1961, Manfred Matthies had helped countless East Germans to flee to the West. However, he was himself a refugee from Magdeburg and as such wasn’t allowed to enter East Berlin until 1971. In 1971, all previous offenses were repealed and Matthies could finally …

Berlin, Sonnenalle/Baumschulenstraße Baumschulenstraße 65, 12437 Berlin, Germany
The expansion of the Berlin Wall
The expansion of the Berlin WallLutz Porombka

In August 1961, the young Lutz Porombka was able to witness first-hand the expansion of the Berlin Wall, as his parents' flat was located in the immediate neighborhood of the border checkpoint Sonnenallee. In fact, it was so close that Lutz once saw a soldier staring inside his room through the…

Berlin, VEB Funkwerk Köpenick Wendenschloßstraße 142, BHKW Köpenick, 12557 Berlin, Germany
Workers’ uprising in Berlin
Workers’ uprising in BerlinLothar Szielasko

As a teenager, Lothar Szielasko did an apprenticeship at the Funkwerk Köpenick. On June 17, 1953, he arrived at his workplace and realized that all operation had been brought to a standstill. The workers in the GDR had started a strike. Lothar Szielasko refused to follow the instructions of his …

Border crossing Finsterau/Bučina St2127, 94078 Mauther Forst, Germany
A beer from Bohemia
A beer from BohemiaHelmut Haselberger

On the evening of the opening of the border between Czechoslovakia and Bavaria, Helmut Haselberger was sitting at home in his living room. Suddenly, his son came in and asked him if he would like a Czech beer. Helmut was surprised and asked his son where he had gotten the Czech beer from. His…

Crossing the border became the test of courage
Crossing the border became the test of courageHelmut Haselberger

Helmut Haselberger grew up in the immediate vicinity of the Iron Curtain. As a schoolboy, he experienced many adventures and daring undertakings with his friends. They would also set out on journeys into the forests immediately surrounding the border crossing Finsterau/Bučina. In elementary …

First encounter with border officials
First encounter with border officialsHelmut Haselberger

Helmut Haselberger grew up in the immediate vicinity of the Iron Curtain. With his friends, he would make many trips to the forests immediately surrounding the border crossing Finsterau/Bučina. One day he accompanied his uncle, who went fishing, to a local creek at the German-Czechoslovak …

Boundary Stone No. 16 (Poledník – the Bohemian Forest) Hochschachtenstraße, Nationalpark Bayerischer Wald, 94227 …
In the service of the American CIC
In the service of the American CIC

In February 1948, the Communist regime had closed its borders with the “enemy foreign countries.” Although, based on the decision of the Ministry of Interior, all passports were deemed void, the regime did not manage to prevent a mass departure of refugees into exile. Indispensable assistance to …

Bozsok Bozsok, Hungary
The voluntary guide
The voluntary guideZoltán Gúth

The former Gulag-prisoner Zoltán Gúth, who had rambled all over Siberia, and some young guys of sixteen and eighteen whom he decided to join as a voluntary guide, got on a train in Szombathely at the beginning of 1957. They didn’t have enough money for a smuggler and for a truck. It was widely kn…

Broumov Treppenstein 3, 95695 Mähring, Germany
An East German was shot a mile away from the border
An East German was shot a mile away from the border

In early August 1977, close to Broumov in the Tachov District, some 1,600 metres from the state border, a border guard shot and killed the East German citizen Gerhard Schmidt while he was attempting to reach West Germany. Although the private did not fire until after repeated calls to stop were…

Broumov, former Border Guard Headquarters 201, 348 15 Broumov, Czech Republic
Meeting a Relative
Meeting a RelativeMiloslav Komínek

Miloslav Komínek was arrested on April 4, 1948, when attempting to flee across the border to Germany, and taken to the office of the Border Guard in Broumov. The fact that Miloslav Komínek was shot in the belly and therefore severely wounded was of no concern to the guards. “There, in the off…

Břeclav, railway embankment 05529, 691 41 Břeclav, Czech Republic
Mosquitos at Dyje
Mosquitos at DyjeVladimír Zbořílek

Vladimíř Zbořílek emigrated through Austria in 1948. He crossed the borders of Czechoslovakia with his friend near Břeclav. “We were crossing the border near the customs office and there we experienced the first adventure. We were climbing across the railway embankment and we did not know what fo…

Bucsu Bucsu, Hungary
From the granary to the tussocky
From the granary to the tussockyJenő Ivánfi

They didn't have any cigarettes, so the three young men who wanted to leave for Austria, among them Jenő Ivánfi, got off the bus in Bucsu to look for a shop. There were bells above the door. The shopkeeper came and looked at them and he had only one question: ’Did anybody see you coming here?’ He…

Uncle János directed us with a tomahawk
Uncle János directed us with a tomahawkJenő Ivánfi

"If my tomahawk is up, stop. If we hear shooting, barking, or buzzing, or we see a light, lie down on the earth. We go one after the other keeping one meter distance in single file. Don’t smoke, don’t stop, don’t eat, just go or lie down.’’ – said uncle János, the trafficker, as the three young m…

Bucharest University Strada Edgar Quinet, Bucharest, Romania
Against all odds
Against all oddsSibylle Buhn

Originally, Sybille Buhn wanted to begin her studies at the Babeş-Bolyai University of Cluj. However, since the foreign-languages department that she favored no longer existed in 1983, she decided to study at the teaching institute in Bucharest instead. Here she met her future husband Giancarlo, …

Bystřice Nadlerhängweg, 93437 Furth im Wald, Germany
A twelve-year-old offender committed suicide in front of…
A twelve-year-old offender committed suicide in front of…

In early May 1967 close to Bystřice near Pec pod Čerchovem in the Domažlice District, twelve-year-old schoolboy František Mühlbauer shot himself after he and his friend were detained by a border guard when trying to cross the border into Bavaria. The tragedy could have been prevented by the guar…

Cazanele Dunării Iron Gate, Romania
Crossing the Danube, a way to freedom
Crossing the Danube, a way to freedomIngrid Alina Fotino (née Popa)

For Ingrid Popa’s family the instauration of the communism in Romania meant the beginning of a harsh persecution with many of her close relatives kept under surveillance, interrogated, and imprisoned by the regime. As a result, after her father’s arrest and imprisonment in 1947, the parents dec…

Ciuchici Ciuchici 327080, Romania
Trying to escape from communist Romania
Trying to escape from communist RomaniaIoan Marin

Unsatisfied with his life under the communist regime, Ioan Marin tried to cross the Romanian-Yugoslavian border with two close friends , Ion Iordan and Constantin Stanciu, in July 1961 when he was seventeen. They had chosen a crossing location at a spot called Ciuchici, a village near to…

Česká Kubice, Spálený vrch 190, Česká Kubice, Czech Republic
Seven Minutes away from Freedom
Seven Minutes away from FreedomVladimír Príslupský

In 1987 Vladimír Príslupský decided to run away from Czechoslovakia. He wanted to cross the Iron Curtain using an air glider, (rogalo), for his escape – a small hang-glider with a Trabant car engine, even though he didn’t have any experiences with flying. On May 18, 1987 approximately at eight o’…

České Velenice Vitorazská 154, 378 10 České Velenice, Czech Republic
The last off-duty pass of a Slovak reservist
The last off-duty pass of a Slovak reservist

In August 1961 on the Czechoslovak-Austrian state border near České Velenice, two meters from the gates of the electric wire fencing, the body of the Slovak worker František Babič (* 5. 6. 1931, † 11. 8. 1961) was found. Reserve soldier Babič was undergoing military training in the town with his …

Debrník Železná Ruda 34, 340 04 Železná Ruda, Czech Republic
He survived combat at Tobruk, died crossing the border
He survived combat at Tobruk, died crossing the border

In late March 1948, close to Debrník near Železná Ruda, during an attempt to cross the state border into the so-called American occupation zone in Bavaria, František Zábřeský, National Export Administrator for Jablonec Merchandise, and his secretary Bohumila Příhodová lost their lives. At the tim…

Deutsch Schützen 7474 Deutsch Schützen, Austria
Jumped over to the neighbours'
Jumped over to the neighbours'Ferenc Schlaffer

Ferenc Schlaffer spoke a bad Hungarian. He was born to a family of smallholders of German ethnic origin. He was taught to be a skilled worker. Although as a roofer he had a good wage, when he turned 18 and understood that his family had planned it several times, he realized that he wanted to…

Deutschkreutz Deutschkreutz, Austria
A warm welcome in the West
A warm welcome in the WestChristian Weiss

During a summer holiday in Hungary in 1989, Christian Weiss fled with his family across the Hungarian border to Austria at the age of 13. Having arrived on the other side of the border, the first thing the family saw was vineyards. They walked on until they felt safe and finally stopped a man in…

Towards the tower resolutely
Towards the tower resolutelyKatalin Mester

Two women, a teenager girl Katalin Mester, and her mother were left by their smuggler in the night of November 26, 1956 in the border zone. They decided to leave Hungary after the 1956 revolution, following the example of some of their friends and acquaintances. They wanted to go to the United…

Devín, Devín Castle Slovanské nábrežie 1093/48, 841 10 Devín, Slovakia
Bridge across the Iron Curtain
Bridge across the Iron CurtainLadislav Snopko

On December 10, 1989 near Bratislava, on both sides of the river Danube by the Devín Castle, a project named Hello Europe took place. It was a people’s manifestation of desire for opening the borders and removing the barbed wire barricades. In reality, the event was planned as well as perceived a…

Do Not Paint Austria!
Do Not Paint Austria!Jozef Chrena

Jozef Chrena is a landscape painter. Even though he grew up in a village Moravský Svätý Ján near the Morava River, because of restrictions imposed by the government he could never approach it, and surely not paint it on his canvas. Since he wasn’t allowed to paint the Morava River within the surr…

Dobříkov (The Bohemian Forest) 345 06 Kdyně-Dobříkov, Czech Republic
She gave her son a sleeping pill
She gave her son a sleeping pillHelena Šidáková

On 29th March 1949, Helena Šidáková set out with her small one-year-old son Zdeněk, Jarka Navrátilová, Růžena Lieblová, who wanted to escape to be with her father living abroad, and with her close friend seventeen-year-old Jindra Budínská. The group took a train from Prague to Dobříkov. They want…

Domažlice, Petrovická 295 Petrovická 295, 344 01 Domazlice, Czech Republic
The Czechoslovak Soviet Socialist Republic
The Czechoslovak Soviet Socialist RepublicDalibor Plšek

On 21 August, 1968, the troops of the Warsaw Pact arrived at the garrison of the border guard in Domažlice, where they were encountered by two military tanks. The locals were spitting on the occupiers from their windows in protest. However, as they started considering their future, the …

Dresden, TU Dresden Mommsenstraße 6, Dresden University of Technology, 01069 Dresden, …
Walking a straight path by taking many detours
Walking a straight path by taking many detoursLutz Porombka

The communist regime in East Germany, also called the German Democratic Republic, heavily influenced the lives of its citizens. The careers of young high-school graduates were predetermined and planned by the state. As a result, Lutz Porombka, a young and promising graduate with good grades was…

Dyjákovice Blaustaudnerhof 1, 2136, Austria
I must have set a new Olympic record at the barbed-wire…
I must have set a new Olympic record at the barbed-wire…Zdeněk Hostaša

In 1968, Zdeněk Hostaša decided to attempt a third escape from Czechoslovakia: “When the Russians came, I knew I had to get away.” The former CIC agent had eight years of imprisonment in the harsh conditions of the Leopold prison under his belt. In September 1968, he arrived at the border toget…

Dyjákovičky Dyjákovičky, Czech Republic
He crept for water behind the backs of the border guards
He crept for water behind the backs of the border guardsRobert Ospald

On their attempt to escape to Austria, Robert Ospald and his friend Zdeněk Pohl hid for three days in the fields at the border. Camouflaged by the bushy growth, the two fugitives slept under a canvas for three days and nights while they waited for the right time to cross. Soon enough, they ran …

We were waiting for three days in the nettles for the…
We were waiting for three days in the nettles for the…Robert Ospald

On their escape to Austria, Robert Ospald and Zdenek Pohl walked along the poles of high-voltage overhead transmission lines until they arrived near the village of Dyjákovičky. "There was a beet field, and in the middle of it there was an immense pole supporting high-voltage transmission lines w…

Dyleň Stará Voda 132, 350 02 Stará Voda, Czech Republic
He couldn’t find the border
He couldn’t find the borderLuboš Jednorožec

Luboš Jednorožec got to the foot of the mountain Dyleň, two days after he managed to escape from the labour camp Horní Slavkov. He was tired from a lack of sleep, hungry and numb with cold, but filled with hope that he would soon be able to cross the border to Germany. The proximity of the bor…

Not seeing the hill for the trees
Not seeing the hill for the treesHans Heine

The forest surrounding the Tillenberg Hill (Dyleň) became the scene of an exciting escape story in April 1972. Although the Tillenberg is almost 1,000 meters high, the young runaway couple, Hans Heine and his girlfriend from East Berlin, had trouble to find the hill amidst the dense forest. …

Eberswalde Eberswalde Hbf, 16225 Eberswalde, Germany
A secret flight at night
A secret flight at nightLuise Justen

On December 22, 1958, a young girl barely sixteen years old named Louise Justen boarded a train from Eberswalde to the west to escape her brutal foster aunt and reunite with her mother. She was assisted by a priest who had been helping her plan her escape for three years before she actually…

Fertőrákos Fertőrákos, Hungary
From the window to the boat
From the window to the boatKatalin Mester

Katalin Mester’s father Gyula Nádasy, a former cavalry officer, was a prisoner of war in Austria after WWII in a territory liberated by the Anglo-American forces. He returned to his family in Hungary more than one year after the end of the war. Since he couldn’t continue his career with the army…

Filipova Hora 1902, 344 01 Tlumačov, Czech Republic
Not even the occupiers were allowed to enter the border zone
Not even the occupiers were allowed to enter the border zoneDalibor Plšek

In August 1968, Dalibor Plšek was serving as an officer in a company of the border guard in Maxov. When Soviet troops started to arrived at the border between the village of Mlýneček and the village of Filipova hora, he stopped them and told the Soviet commander that they could not go any fu…

Floreşti Floreşti, Romania
The deportation of a family from Floreşti (17/18 of June …
The deportation of a family from Floreşti (17/18 of June …Elena Bobocel (neé Butoi)

In the night of 17-18 June 1951, Elena Bobocel was informed by the head of the local militia station that she and her family would be evicted from their home and deported from Florești. The shocking news was worsened by the fact that her husband wasn’t at home, since he was on duty as a driver in…

Friedland border transit camp Heimkehrerstraße 18, 37133 Friedland, Germany
Departure from Romania to Germany
Departure from Romania to GermanyKarl Reinerth

In 1953, the seven-year-old Karl Reinerth, his mother, and his little sister, made a train trip from Romania to Germany that lasted almost four weeks. They belonged to the German minority in Romania and were lucky enough to be granted a family reunion in the Federal Republic of Germany, where…

Frontier stone VIII/48 Kleinhaugsdorf 30, 2054, Austria
Down the high-voltage lines across the border
Down the high-voltage lines across the borderRobert Ospald

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,…

Gârdoaia Floreşti, Romania
Deported at six month old
Deported at six month oldIleana Mateescu (née Caraiman)

Ileana Mateescu was only six months old when, during the night of 17-18 June 1951, she was deported together with her entire family and other people from Gârdoaia village, located near the Romanian-Yugoslavian border, to the Bărăgan steppe, where the deportees were left in the middle of the open …

Gießen Reception Center Am Güterbahnhof 10, 35398 Giessen, Germany
The last hurdle
The last hurdleSigrid Richter

Sigrid Richter crossed the inner German border on November 11, 1986. After having spent 4,5 years in a prison, the government of West Germany paid for her release to the FRG. Her first stay in the West was the reception center for the fugitives from the East in Gießen. However, she only spent a …

The way to freedom
The way to freedomFrank Plunze

Frank Plunze attempted several times to get across the border between the Germanys to the West in order to live a better life. After all of his escape attempts had failed, he was placed as a political prisoner into the Torgau prison on August 30, 1982. After five long years of imprisonment, on…

Grădinari Grădinari 327230, Romania
Arrested trying to cross the border
Arrested trying to cross the borderViorel Mihail Anghel

For Viorel Anghel it was already a clear fact in 1981 that Romania had become a prison from which it was very difficult to get out even with pure touristic purposes. Therefore, after meeting a young woman from GDR named Ines who had come to visit Romania, he decided to try to reach Yugoslavia…

Hamry Koppertweg, 93453 Neukirchen beim Heiligen Blut, Germany
Shot for picking blueberries
Shot for picking blueberries

In August 1948, close to Hamry near Nýrsko, Czechoslovaks carried out a blanket sweep on all Bavarian Germans who were in the border zone picking blueberries. It was suspected that some of them had participated in a robbery. During the sweep, 34-year-old German Ludwig Brandl was shot trying to …

Hatě, border crossing Chvalovice 196, 669 02 Chvalovice, Czech Republic
A trip to freedom
A trip to freedomJiří Henych

Before 1989, the border crossing in Hatě was among the busiest road crossings on the Czech- Austrian border. When Jiří Henych was passing it in 1966 on a trip with other tourists, he was experiencing moments of intense anxiety and tense anticipation as for him – contrary to the other passengers –…

Hazlov - Kančí údolí (Boar Valley) Buchwald 12, 95100 Selb, Germany
Minefield in Kančí valley
Minefield in Kančí valleyMemoirs of border guard…

In the fifties, the border between Czechoslovakia and the western countries resembled a war zone. The Stalinist regime wanted to prevent the escapes of its citizens to the free part of the world by hook or brook. Besides several zones of wired barricades and electrical warning devices they left…

Heresznye Heresznye, Hungary
Second attempt to flee the country
Second attempt to flee the countryLászló Deres

László Deres fled the country illegally swimming across the Danube at Mohács in August 1974. He met his expecting wife in Batina. They made it to the Yugoslavian-Italian border but due to exhaustion they gave it up and hitch-hiked back to Letenye. But Laszlo wanted to escape the border again, so …

Hof, former seat of the U.S. intelligence service MCI in Hof Lessingstraße 35, 95028 Hof, Germany
The Americans were inquisitive
The Americans were inquisitiveAndreas Schumann

In the evening after his escape, Andreas Schumann was given fresh clothes and handed over to the U.S. occupation authority in Hof. Fortunately, he spokes a little English and was thus able to make himself understood by the Americans. They took care of him and treated him casually: “We’d sit tog…

Hoheneck female prison An der Stalburg 6, 09366 Stollberg, Germany
An arrest with a positive surprise
An arrest with a positive surpriseSigrid Richter

After Sigrid Richter had fallen into the trap of the state security of the GDR and had been arrested at her home, she was taken to the female prison in Hoheneck in 1982. In the beginning, prison life was not easy for her. The political prisoners like her had the prospect of a relatively early…

Horní Slavkov (Camp XII.) U Lesoparku 747/1, 357 31 Horní Slavkov, Czech Republic
I crept before the eyes of a guard
I crept before the eyes of a guardLuboš Jednorožec

Luboš Jednorožec came to the Slavkov camp in June 1951. He was sentenced to ten years in prison and was firmly determined to run away at his first opportunity. That opportunity came in September. When the prisoners were being taken to their night shift, he managed to separate himself from the o…

Horská Kvilda Šumava National Park, Horská Kvilda 2, 385 01 Horská Kvilda, Czech …
A poacher turned teacher
A poacher turned teacherKarel Fořt

In 1948, the official resettlement of the Sudeten Germans - which took place in 1945-1946 - had been completed. Nevertheless, considerable numbers of Germans were still present in the Šumava region. The authorities were withholding them in Czechoslovakia as they were important experts or workers …

They didn’t want a Czech priest
They didn’t want a Czech priestKarel Fořt

Priest Johannes John from Rejštejn took care of the German population of Horská Kvilda. He set up a chapel for them in an abandoned house near the school building. During his services, the windows were opened and the men stood outside because they wouldn’t fit inside the building. It was on a Sat…

Hötensleben Lange Trift, Hötensleben, Germany
An environmental police officer operating at the…
An environmental police officer operating at the…Klaus Wedemann

Klaus Wedemann was a police officer in Helmstadt. He specialized in environmental law and in 1986, he had an assignment in Schönigen. As there was still some time left, he went to the Schöninger Aue, a border river between the former GDR and the Federal Republic of Germany. It was at the border c…

Hrabětice, Czech - Austrian border Pohraniční 359, 671 68 Hrabětice, Czech Republic
A naïve Pole tragically attempting to overcome the …
A naïve Pole tragically attempting to overcome the …Signal barrier

In mid-August 1962 close to Hrabětice in the Znojmo District of Czechoslovakia, an attempt to cross the border into Austria proved lethal to the Polish citizen Tadeusz Bernard. Together with another Pole of his age, Jan Wois, they crossed the distance between the Polish-Czechoslovak and …

Hrušovany nad Jevišovkou, Czech - Austrian border Alt-Prerau, 2164, Austria
The last Czech victim of the Iron Curtain
The last Czech victim of the Iron Curtain

In 1985, close to Hrušovany nad Jevišovkou in the Znojmo District, a few hundred meters from the much desired Austrian border, Ladislav Malina committed suicide surrounded by border guards. With this tragic act the trained car mechanic from Kutná Hora became the last Czechoslovak citizen to lose …

Huťský dvůr 1631, 384 51 Horní Planá, Czech Republic
Flowers as far as the eye can see
Flowers as far as the eye can see

“In the spring, when the snow melts away a bit, you can see a little curb but otherwise there are just rocks and huge trees. There’s an apple tree but this year it’s already very old. Then there’s the cherry tree, also very old, and there is lilac blossoming scattered between the trees. And when …

Cheb, Railway station Cheb, Riegerova, 350 02 Cheb, Czech Republic
Stomach pain at the border
Stomach pain at the borderRuth Kollinger

Ruth Kollinger was allowed to travel to Czechoslovakia from time to time, despite the fact that her family had emigrated to the West. She remembers the stomach pain these trips would always cause her, especially in Cheb: “And then you arrived in Cheb and you were left to stand and wait there at l…

Chemnitz (Kaßberg), prison Augustusburger Straße 25, 09111 Chemnitz, Germany
Almost there
Almost thereSigrid Richter

After spending four and a half years in prison, Sigrid Richter was transferred to the prison in Chemnitz, (then Karl-Marx-Stadt). The West-German government paid for her release in 1986 and thus Richter was free to leave the GDR. After a long time of imprisonment, Richter was finally allowed to…

Ransomed by the West after having been imprisoned for…
Ransomed by the West after having been imprisoned for…Wilfried Elsner

Wilfried Elsner was sentenced and imprisoned after he attempted to escape from the GDR in 1981. He was sentenced 18 months in jail. After having served 10 months in prison, he was ordered to pack his things and was transferred to Chemnitz, formerly Karl-Marx-Stadt. Wilfried was among those…

Chudenín, meadow 19016, 340 22 Chudenín, Czech Republic
Border Guards Waiting Behind Haycocks
Border Guards Waiting Behind HaycocksFrantišek Wiendl

František Wiendl was one of the people who decided to help others to flee across the border after the coup d’état in February 1948. On one of his journeys to the border he got delayed and when he emerged from the forest above the Chudenín village, it was already light. Border guards with mach…

Janovice nad Úhlavou Náměstí 59-60, 340 21 Janovice nad Úhlavou, Czech Republic
My dad said goodbye and went to Germany
My dad said goodbye and went to GermanyAloisie Pauerová, née S…

The Iron Curtain strongly affected the lives of the exiles and so-called “kopečkáři,” people who were caught and imprisoned while attempting to illegally cross the border. However, the fates of some of the other “victims,” such as the families of emigrants who were left behind in socialist Czecho…

Jarovce Krachgasse 47, 2421 Kittsee, Austria
Death on the borders
Death on the bordersBibiana Wallnerová

In 1951, Bibiana Wallnerová attempted to escape communist Czechoslovakia to the free world together with her parents and her sister Dorota. On 9 May 1951, shortly after 2 a.m., they were apprehended by a border guard patrol some 500 metres from the border crossing in Kopčany. All of a sudden t…

Jemnice náměstí Svobody 85, 675 31 Jemnice, Czech Republic
Family visits from West Germany
Family visits from West GermanyAnette Neff

In the era of the Iron Curtain, Anette Neff would travel from West Germany to Jemnice in order to visit members of her family who had remained there after the end of World War II. Originally from Dačice, (formerly “Datschitz” in German), the family now lives in Jemnice. She remembers her chil…

Jevišovka Jevišovka, Czech Republic
Little Red Cap on white snow
Little Red Cap on white snowStefanie Marek

Until the early 1950s, present-day Jevišovka, which was by then known as Frélichov, had a predominantly Croatian population. After World War II, the presence of the Croats in the border region had become undesirable for political reasons and most of the local residents were relocated to the C…

Today, they’re going to move us
Today, they’re going to move usMarie Čtvrtlíková

Until the late 1940s, three villages in southern Moravia were settled by a population originating in Croatia. For political reasons, the presence of the Croats at the Austro-Moravian border became undesirable after 1948 and the Croats were displaced. The demise of the Croatian element in the…

Jimbolia Jimbolia 305400, Romania
In the custody of the Border Guard in Jimbolia
In the custody of the Border Guard in JimboliaGeorge Sava

In 1989, dissatisfied with living conditions in Romania, George Sava decided to leave the country, by crossing the border illegally to Yugoslavia. On the morning of October 20, 1989, George Sava and Mariana Lazăr left to the western border with the intention to flee the country. But they were …

Kapuvár Kapuvar, Hungary
Leaving on her nameday
Leaving on her namedayKatalin Mester

Katalin Mester and her mother Éva Nádasdy arrived to Kapuvár from Budapest on November 24, 1956 by a crowded train. After the Hungarian revolution they decided to leave for the border and attempt to fly to Hungary, following their friends and acquaintances. They wanted to join Katalin’s father wh…

The hand of God helped me again
The hand of God helped me againDr. László Gyarmati, r…

"When we reached the frontier zone the hand of God helped me again. Suddenly we caught sight of two men driving along with a cart from the direction of the frontier. They said that they were going to chop down one more tree. They had already laid one trunk across the channel to build a bridge.…

Karlovy Vary, airport (KLV) K Letišti 132, Karlovy Vary Airport (KLV), 360 01 Karlovy Vary, …
A plan revealed too early
A plan revealed too earlyKarel Bažant

In September 1948, Karel Bažant along with two seasoned pilots (veterans of WWII) named Miroslav Kolínský and Bohuslav Velvarský, as well as the mechanic Otto Lenz made plans to escape to England. They wanted to use the airplanes from the airport in Karlovy Vary, where Karel Bažant worked as a me…

Klatovy - Hůrka Janovická 776, 339 01 Klatovy, Czech Republic
Arrested on the Way for Apples
Arrested on the Way for ApplesFrantišek Wiendl

On November 20, 1949, František Wiendl and his friend, Prantl, helped a group of seven people flee across the border. They borrowed a car large enough for a bigger group and the two of them set out from Klatovy. The group was to be picked in the village of Beňovy. Beforehand they prepared a s…

Klatovy, prison and district court Dukelská 138, 339 01 Klatovy, Czech Republic
Sleep my little prince, the prisoners had sung
Sleep my little prince, the prisoners had sungHelena Šidáková

In the prison in Klatovy, Helena Šidáková was interrogated by a deputy judge. He asked her where she had set out in the night with her child. She answered, that she set out to find her husband who had left her in Czechoslovakia. The judge was surprised: “Why, do you know where your husband is?” –…

Kleinhaugsdorf 2054 Kleinhaugsdorf, Austria
I’m free, I’m free, I’m free!
I’m free, I’m free, I’m free!Robert Ospald

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 …

Knížecí pláně Plains Šumava National Park, Borová Lada 1, 385 01 Borová Lada, Czech Re…
The customs officer was unarmed, he had only a dog and a…
The customs officer was unarmed, he had only a dog and a…Karel Fořt

After Karel Fořt and his two priestly brothers had learned that the secret police was going to arrest them, they didn’t wait a second to head for the border on their motorcycles. They hid their bikes in the woods and proceeded on foot in the direction of Germany. They chose the area of Knížecí pl…

Kópháza Kópháza, Hungary
In the lurch
In the lurchKatalin Mester

Katalin Mester and her mother Éva Nádasy woke up in the dirty hole that the smuggler had dug in the outskirts of Kópháza in the night of November 26, 1956. They decided after the 1956 revolution to leave Hungary and to try to go to the United States where Katalin’s father was living. Gyula Nádas…

Krapice, Kammerdorf 21320, 350 02 Libá, Czech Republic
My daddy died because of an informer
My daddy died because of an informerBlažena Baborová, née Andělová

The father of Blažena Baborová, Jan Anděl, fought in World War II in the Czechoslovak Army in France and Great Britain. In 1945, he became the caretaker of a hotel in Františkovy Lázně. After 1948, because he could not accept the Communist victory he became involved with smuggling people across t…

Krásná (Schönbach bei Asch), no. 319 Krásná 319, 352 01 Krásná, Czech Republic
He smuggled his family in a sofa
He smuggled his family in a sofaLeopold Tuček

Former border guard Leopold Tuček remembers a remarkable escape to the West that took place in the mid-1950s. At this time, the likelihood of a successful illegal crossing of the border was less than 5 %. However, Ondřej Donoval, a caretaker of the local waterworks, which was situated behind the …

Krásná (Schönbach bei Asch), waterworks no. 320 Krásná 320, 352 01 Krásná, Czech Republic
The Escape of the waterworks employee Václav Duchek (1978)
The Escape of the waterworks employee Václav Duchek (1978)

On August 29, 1978, two waterworks employees, Václav Duchek and Stanislav Cabal, came to the Krásenská waterworks, house No. 320, to perform some routine service tasks. Both were on a list of service personnel authorized to work behind the barricades unattended by the border guard. The patrol on …

Lauenburg Gorch-Fock-Straße 45, 21481 Lauenburg Elbe, Germany
A gloomy return to the old fatherland
A gloomy return to the old fatherlandSigrid Richter

A few years after Richter emigrated to West Germany, her father died in the GDR. Getting an entry visa to the GDR for the whole family to attend the burial proved to be an agonizing experience. At first, she was flatly turned down. Later, a visa was offered only to her son who was too young to…

Leopoldov Gucmanova 670/19, 920 41 Leopoldov, Slovakia
They had their ways of eliminating us
They had their ways of eliminating usLuboš Jednorožec

Luboš Jednorožec arrived in Leopoldov with a sixteen year sentence for running away from the camp Horní Slavkov, as well as for his attempt to cross the state border. In Leopoldov they did not beat prisoners, but they tortured them in a different manner. They had to march in a squat and do pu…

Leštnice L8169, 3844, Austria
A village that was depopulated twice
A village that was depopulated twiceThe prohibited border zone

The family of Josef Cejpek came to Leštnice after the war for the purpose of re-settling the border lands. They began to farm on an abandoned farm that was left deserted after the Germans had been driven out. Six years later, in 1951, they were forced to leave their new home. Leštnice was d…

Letenye 8868 Letenye, Szent Imre herceg Street 44, Hungary
An escape attempt gone wrong results in imprisonment
An escape attempt gone wrong results in imprisonmentPaying for the release of…

In 1981, Wilfried Elsner tried to cross the border to the West near Letenye. Elsner, a citizen of the GDR, got into conflict with the ruling regime because of his political views. His career as a teacher was hampered and as he saw no opportunity for himself to advance professionally in the GDR,…

Libá, Dubina Hammermühle 2, 95691 Hohenberg an der Eger, Germany
They were showing the Americans their bare buttocks
They were showing the Americans their bare buttocksLeopold Tuček

From their observation point at the castle of Hohenberg, the American soldiers serving in Bavaria had a good view of what was happening at the Czechoslovakian border and carefully reported everything they saw. The Czechoslovak border guards used to play football or volleyball on a field near the…

Libá, Dubina (Eichelberg) Hammermühle 2, 95691 Hohenberg an der Eger, Germany
Mines would kill border guards as well
Mines would kill border guards as well

It was the year 1953 and after a brief revolt stirred up by the currency reform in Czechoslovakia, peace and order were restored again. However, on June 17, 1953, a massive uprising against the communist government of East Germany broke out. On the same day, a sappers’ group of the Czechoslovak b…

Linz, Wegscheid Hörzingerstraße 52, 4020 Linz, Austria
We Need You to Go Back to Czechoslovakia
We Need You to Go Back to Czechoslovakia

Julie Hrušková got to the refugees camp Wegscheid on March 16th, 1949. “The camp was halved by the road. One of the parts was for the Jews and the other for the rest of us. We used to go by the camp, lay on the grass, look at the Alps and talked about everything,” she recalled. Julie soon became …

Liščí – Valley 19014, 340 22 Všeruby, Czech Republic
Children´s Crying
Children´s CryingFrantišek Wiendl

František Weindl used cross the valley between two villages Liščí and Červené Dřevo quite often in 1948 – he was helping people across the border. Once he went with a group of adults and a baby. Though the baby had sleeping pills it woke up and started to cry during the riskiest part of the way w…

Over the Hills to Germany
Over the Hills to GermanyFrantišek Wiendl

František Wiendl and his father joined the anti-communist resistance movement after the events of February 1948. They also helped people to flee across the Iron Curtain from spring to autumn 1949. The route that they used ran from Nýrskoand around the Chudenín village. The next landmark was a br…

Magdeburg Central Railway Station (Hauptbahnhof) Bahnhofstraße 69, 39104 Magdeburg, Germany
Trembling for a last time
Trembling for a last timeSandra Hildebrand

During Easter time of 1989, the Heinz family received a notice of approval of their application for emigration that they had submitted in 1987. They were asked to leave the territory of the German Democratic Republic within 24 hours. Their train from Zwickau to Hanover was departing on March 23,…

Malacky Zámocká, 901 01 Malacky, Slovakia
The persuasions of the Good Soldier Svejk
The persuasions of the Good Soldier SvejkBibiana Wallnerová

In 1951, Bibiana Wallnerová attempted to escape from communist Czechoslovakia to the free world with her parents and her sister Dorota. The escape ended when her young sister was killed on the borders with Austria. The border patrol took Bibiana and her parents to the guard house, where they …

Malé Leváre Malé Leváre 467, 908 74 Malé Leváre, Slovakia
They Were Stopped by the Swollen River
They Were Stopped by the Swollen RiverAnton Srholec

Since the communist regime didn’t allow Anton Srholec to fulfill his desire for priesthood, in 1951 he attempted to flee abroad to any country where might reach his goal. During that fateful night, the group, which included many older and exhausted priests, got to the embankment of river Morava w…

Unsuccessful Border Crossing
Unsuccessful Border CrossingJán Brichta

The communist regime didn’t allow Ján Brichta to become a priest, therefore, he tried to reach his only dream behind the Czechoslovak borders. Along with a group of students, as well as some older priests, on the morning of April 8, 1951, he began to march towards the nearby Austrian borders. He…

Mariánské Lázně (Marienbad), chapel of Julius Laska Chopinova 498/8, 353 01 Mariánské Lázně, Czech Republic
On the run, he slept over in a chapel
On the run, he slept over in a chapelLuboš Jednorožec

Luboš Jednorožec was on the run from the labor camp in Horní Slavkov. He did not have a map and he did not know the local area. All he knew was that he had to get to Mariánské Lázně and then take the shortest route to the west, toward the borders. He was running along forest footpaths. Once, when…

Marienbad, railway station Nádražní náměstí, 353 01 Mariánské Lázně, Czech Republic
A train station as the starting point for an exciting…
A train station as the starting point for an exciting…Hans Heine

In April 1972, the railway station in Marienbad became the starting point for an adventurous escape story. Hans Heine, a citizen of West Germany fell in love with a woman from East Berlin during a one-day stay in that city. He subsequently devised an escape plan for the two of them to West…

Maříž Slavonice 61, 378 81 Slavonice, Czech Republic
A village for the rest of their lives
A village for the rest of their livesFrantišek Dušek

After 1951, when the village of Maříž suddenly found itself in the restricted border zone, its inhabitants faced an uncertain future. A local native, František Dušek, recalls this period: “for some time, Maříž was encircled by barbed wire; there were fences all around the village.” Although the p…

Maxov, company 190, 344 01 Všeruby, Czech Republic
A meeting at the border
A meeting at the borderDalibor Plšek

Dalibor Plšek, an officer of the border guard, was out on patrol with another colleague of his, inspecting the border signs and moving along the state border nearby Maxov. They reached a remote area called “U Singra,” where a German peasant had a farm and a little refreshment stand for the occa…

Intruders Hiding in Trees above the Border Guard
Intruders Hiding in Trees above the Border GuardJiří Minařík

In 1958, Jiří Minařík served as a border guard in Maxov company: “We were guarding a border section of something between 800 and 1,000 meters. But there were some parts that you couldn't overlook from the watchtower. There were two patrols per night.” The situation was sometimes little absurd, wh…

Medvědí kaple (The Bear Chapel) 19014, 340 22 Chudenín, Czech Republic
Under the Coat of the Night
Under the Coat of the NightJosef Touš

After the formation of the Iron Curtain, one of the routes leading abroad was near to Medvědí kaple, (Bear Chapel). The transfers abroad were only at night when the refugees could hide themselves in the shadows of the woods or bushes and the possibility that the frontier guards see them was l…

Mikulov, Czech - Austrian border Kleinschweinbarth 146, 2165 Kleinschweinbarth, Austria
A Polish resistance fighter killed on the Czech border
A Polish resistance fighter killed on the Czech border

In late August 1956, a border patrol in the Mikulov area found the dead body of Polish citizen Alojzy Mieczyław Drażkowiak, electrocuted by the border fence. That was the tragic end to what was the 27-year-old Pole's second attempt to cross the Czechoslovak state border to Austria. A locksmith b…

Mohács Mohács, Hungary
First attempt to flee the country: Swimming across the…
First attempt to flee the country: Swimming across the…Deres László

László Deres employed for years to get away from Hungary to the free world. Laszlo had not received a passport because of his origin, and therefore wanted to defect. He planned the route beforehand. He had bought two inner tubes and flippers to aid our swimming, to make the trip safer. He and h…

Moravský Svätý Ján Moravský Svätý Ján 791, 908 71 Moravský Svätý Ján, Slovakia
The Guide Shouted He’d Shoot Us
The Guide Shouted He’d Shoot UsJán Tocký

Ján Tocký belongs to the group of runaways, which on the April 30, 1952 nearby the village Moravský Svätý, managed to sail the Morava River and flee to Austria. According to Tocký, especially in this season, the river was swollen and at some places, it almost overflew from its banks. Some membe…

Through Dark, Rain and Mud
Through Dark, Rain and MudDon Jozef Hrdý

Jozef Hrdý belongs to the first Salesians, who, shortly after the communist takeover, realized that their priestly service might be freely done only behind the Iron Curtain. “I saw that it was all going to the dogs, but my superiors didn't want to believe it,” Don Jozef Hrdý recalled. The first a…

Through four occupation zones to freedom
Through four occupation zones to freedomŠtefan Šilhár

In October 1951, Štefan Šilhár attempted to cross the Iron Curtain with a group of priests and monks to fulfil his dream of becoming a priest. The approximately fifteen-strong group was lead by two guides: “Sometimes they would say: ‘Stop, hide!’ if they noticed something suspicious. I was never …

Mosonmagyaróvár Mosonmagyaróvár, Hungary
Every breath was painful
Every breath was painfulNádasdy Nikolits Andrea

Andrea left Budapest with her female neighbour on 27 November 1956. They took a train to Mosonmagyaróvár. The next night they went on foot to cross the border. Andrea and others walked for hours, physically and mentally exhausted. "We reached a deep ploughed land where walking was very d…

There was dead silence around there
There was dead silence around thereNádasdy Nikolits Andrea

Andrea Nikolits left Budapest for the "free world” with her female neighbour on 27 November 1956. They took a train to Mosonmagyaróvár to be taken to the border by a drunk "human smuggler” along with two males. "We embarked on the most critical journey of our lives under the guidance of a drunk m…

Niklas Church Högelstein St2175, 95695 Mähring, Germany
Finally in the West!
Finally in the West!Hans Heine

“The moment we arrived at the chapel I knew that we were safe in the West,” Hans Heine recalled, When Heine and his girlfriend reached the chapel on a cold April day in 1972, the area around the Chapel seemed appeared impassable and lonely. Hans Heine, who had fallen in love with a woman from Eas…

Nové Domy – border crossing 2161, 352 01 Krásná, Czech Republic
Trade at the border
Trade at the borderLeopold Tuček

Although the border crossing in Nové Domy was closed to the public, the Czechoslovak side would sometimes use it for wood exports to West Germany. The former border guard Leopold Tuček recalls these transactions: “the foresters brought timber to the waterworks in Nové Domy where it was picked up …

Nové Hrady, Sokolí Hnízdo (Falcon’s Nest) Pyhrabruck 7, 3962, Austria
An Austrian died on his way to his brother’s wedding
An Austrian died on his way to his brother’s weddingWire barrier

In February 1961 on the state border close to Tetřev Forest near Nové Hrady, the dead body of 18-year-old Austrian citizen Horst Stepan Passler was found electrocuted by the high-voltage fence. Passler, who originated from the Liberec District and had become an Austrian citizen only a year b…

Nový Žďár Aš 29, 352 01 Aš, Czech Republic
A dead electrician taken to court
A dead electrician taken to courtSignal barrier

Two days before Christmas Eve, near Nový Žár in the Cheb District, 18-year-old Břetislav Funiok attempted to cross the border into West Germany. When trying to overcome the high-voltage wire fence he was hit by an electric shock and died from his wounds later that day. Despite this, state off…

Nový Žďár – Neuenbrand, state border Mühlbach 25, 95100 Selb, Germany
The death of a deserter from Aš
The death of a deserter from Aš

Günther Vadas was born on September 1, 1938, in Aš. He knew the surrounding terrain very well and according to the border guard he had already twice tried to cross the border. During his military service he frequently got involved in violations with the result that he was sentenced to nine m…

Nýrsko, Československých legií Street 432 Československých legií 432, 340 22 Nýrsko, Czech Republic
The training of the border guards
The training of the border guardsDalibor Plšek

Dalibor Plšek started his military service in 1958. From his birthplace in Zlín, he was ordered to join the border guard brigade in Sušice. Before taking up service, he completed an intensive training course in Nýrsko. Every morning, as a warm-up exercise, the soldier-trainees had to run 10 kil…

Nýrsko, Railway Station Nádražní 602, 340 22 Nýrsko, Czech Republic
The First Time across the Iron Curtain
The First Time across the Iron CurtainFrantišek Wiendl

The people who helped others to get across the Iron Curtain usually came from the border area and were very well familiar with it. František Wiendl who came from Klatovy was an exception to this rule. In the spring of 1949, his father František Wiendl senior was held prisoner for his a…

Observation Tower Studánka 197, 345 25 Bělá nad Radbuzou, Czech Republic
Death on the Lookout
Death on the LookoutPetr Motejl

Not only the refugees were the casualties of the Iron Curtain, but the frontier guards as well. Petr Motejl almost lost his life on the borders. He was a member of a border company in Železná in Český les. He exchanged the shift with his friend who was shot on the lookout tower on December 20, 19…

Pankrác Soudní 988/1, 140 00 Prague-Prague 4, Czech Republic
They tortured a woman who was protecting her husband
They tortured a woman who was protecting her husbandHelena Šidáková

On Holy Saturday on 16th April 1949, at around one a.m., State Security interrogator Pešek, “one of the worst monsters in the State Security,” took Helena Šidáková from her cell, writes Helena in her book Shattered years. He brought her into a cellar room with no windows. The interrogator nicknam…

Past the Teplá Vltava River between the towns of Borová Lada and Ráčí 167, 384 51 Horní Vltavice, Czech Republic
He came back for his wife
He came back for his wifeHarry Pollak

In 1949, Harry Pollak and his wife Jarmila set out for their new life in freedom and peace in western Europe. They were going to illegally cross the border of Czechoslovakia. Smugglers helped them pass the Boubínský Forest, jumping over streams, fallen trees and overcoming other pitfalls of Š…

Pastviny (Friedersreuth), Czech – Bavarian borderland Faßmannsreuth 16, 95111 Rehau, Germany
Killed by electric power
Killed by electric power

On October 4, 1961, the electrical installation for the protection of the state borders became fateful for the West-German citizen Albert Jenke. For unknown reasons, he had tried to illegally cross the border to Czechoslovakia nearby Pastviny, (Friedersreuth), in the region of Aš. He died while …

Pavlův Studenec 199, 347 01 Halže, Czech Republic
The death of a veteran double agent and border guide
The death of a veteran double agent and border guide

Early in 1951 near what used to be the village of Pavlův Studenec, (Paulusbrunn), near Tachov, border guards shot and killed a guide, who was identified as Oskar Bergman. But research at the Czech Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes uncovered that in actual fact the deceased was the …

Philippsreut Philippsreut, Germany
In a free country
In a free countryHarry Pollak

During the war, Harry Pollak fought against Nazi Germany for five years but after the communist coup of February 1948, Germany became his refuge. It was one of the many paradoxical situations in the new, post-war Europe. However, at that time, Harry Pollak did not feel hatred towards the Germans…

Pleißing, Presbytery Pleißing 5, 2083 Pleissing, Austria
The Priest is Already Asleep
The Priest is Already AsleepJulie Hrušková

Late in the evening of Sunday March 13, 1949, somebody silently knocked the parsonage door. The parish cook opened the door and saw a group of four young people wearing bundles. At that moment it occurred to her these may be the refugees from Czechoslovakia. They were looking there for help. The…

Pleißing, Railway Station Pleißing 4, 2083 Pleissing, Austria
Train to Vienna
Train to ViennaJulie Hrušková

The small railway station in Austria border town Pleissing was quiet and peaceful on March 13, 1949. The railwayman, who was on duty, was enjoying the silence and suddenly he saw four young people. They were carefully checking out the building and one of them who spoke German, entered and took…

Plešné jezero Lake Plešné jezero, Šumava National Park, 384 51 Nová Pec, Czech Republic
Balloons of freedom
Balloons of freedomOldřich Kalousek

Oldřich Kalousek served as a border guard in Šumava from October 1953 to January 1956. He was in the so-called “first-wave” company tasked with guarding the defensive and restricted zones established in the border area. “The border guards were not there to shoot people as if they were rabbits, bu…

Plzeň, Bory Slovanské údolí 159/109, 318 00 Plzen-Plzeň 3, Czech Republic
Patrolling above the western border
Patrolling above the western border

In 1951, the airport in Plzen-Bory became the first place of posting for Josef Pavlík, a fresh graduate of the Air force academy. Josef had proven himself in exacting combat training with live fire at ground and air targets, and he was soon promoted to the position of squadron commander. Since …

Poběžovice, castle Šandova 272, 345 22 Poběžovice, Czech Republic
Stalin Is a Star
Stalin Is a StarJiří Minařík

From 1957 to 1959 Jiří Mynařík was on duty in the 9th brigade of the border guards in Poběžovice. He remembered the tutoring of the guards: “The training was great for us because we slept in political-educative sitting rooms. They used to give us handbooks with titles – Stalin Is a Star, Gottwals…

Poledník Hochschachtenstraße, Nationalpark Bayerischer Wald, 94227 …
Amicable help
Amicable helpFrantišek Šedivý

František Šedivý helped two fugitives to cross the border to Bavaria in the fall of 1948 and the spring of 1949. For security reasons, he didn’t know their names and they didn’t know his. The first crossing was an older man, probably an army officer with his wife. The second crossing was far more…

Well, then, I’ll go to Bavaria
Well, then, I’ll go to Bavaria

In the summer of 1949, František Zahrádka, a guide and a courier, planned a new route in the section of mount Poledník. During the two journeys, he had guided a total of eight persons past the famous frontier milestone number 16, (situated about 400 m from the peak of the mountain). He had a sp…

Pomezí nad Ohří, Horní Hraničná Pomezí nad Ohří 16, 350 02 Pomezí nad Ohří, Czech Republic
The disappearance of a border guard
The disappearance of a border guardJosef Kadlčík

“If I had to enroll in the army once more and had the choice, I would go there again. The environment there was nice and we had a good team spirit in our unit,” says Josef Kadlčík, who joined the border guard in the late 1950s. He was a member of the border guard company in Horní Hraničná nearby …

Pornóapáti 9796 Pornóapáti, Fő Street 63, Hungary
Escape by a ladder
Escape by a ladderGoják Sándor, escape in t…

By the help of a ladder three young men, inhabitants of Szombathely, escaped to Austria in 1977. They live in Great Britain. "They were in this museum some years ago and told the story of their risky run away. They were afraid to take a hammer and nails to the forest, because it wouldn’t have b…

Hoeing with an identity card with us
Hoeing with an identity card with usFerenc Schlaffer

Ferenc Schlaffer was born in Pornóapáti, a Hungarian village which was in the border zone. He continued to live there until he reached majority at the age of 18. Then following the example of several people from his village, he climbed up the fencing and jumped off on the other side of the f…

Prague, Bartolomějská Street Bartolomějská 306/7, 110 00 Prague-Prague 1, Czech Republic
The couple that did not cry
The couple that did not cryHelena Šidáková

Helena Šidáková decided to deny everything at any cost. The State Security had brought her from Starý Knín where she was hiding with her husband Zdeněk, they were preparing themselves to cross the border. Helena was arrested, Zdeněk managed to escape. They brought her to the interrogation room in…

Prášily, Czech-German borders Rindelsteig, Nationalpark Bayerischer Wald, 94227 Lindberg, Germany
We Walked the Border, Right on the Boundary Stones
We Walked the Border, Right on the Boundary Stones

In Prášily in the fifties the construction of the Iron Curtain continued. The border was patrolled by the fifteenth company of border guards from division from Sušice. The Auxiliary Technical Battalions helped to build the clearings. The border guards used to take them to the place of work and of…

Rasdorf, Checkpoint Alpha Am Hummelsberg 1, 36169 Rasdorf, Germany
This fence was 1393 kilometers long
This fence was 1393 kilometers longMichael Cramer

When Michael Cramer comes to Checkpoint Alpha, he can see that everything is the same as it was. The watchtowers, the fence, and the dog-run areas have been preserved. Cramer met a man who had worked for 40 years in the federal border-protection authority on the western side. That man…

Regnitzlosau, farmstead Hinterprex 19, 95194 Regnitzlosau, Germany
First contact after the border crossing
First contact after the border crossingAndreas Schumann

On the other side of the river, after having marched for some time inland into the FRG territory, Andreas Schumann arrived at a farm and knocked on the door. A teacher lived there with his wife and five children. Andreas Schumann recalls: “I told them that I had just crossed the border from the E…

Rechnitz Rechnitz, Austria
Looking back to Hungary in the night
Looking back to Hungary in the nightJenő Ivánfi

Jenő Ivánfi and his friends left Hungary at the end of November 1956. After having crossed safely „the land of nobody” their guide turned back before the borderline. Before he was said goodbye, he was asked: ’Please, tell us how on earth you can know every inch of this territory so well.’ ’I used…

Rejštejn 169, Šumava National Park, 341 92 Rejštejn, Czech Republic
In the tracks of an old smuggler’s path
In the tracks of an old smuggler’s pathFrantišek Zahrádka

Boy Scout, (10th troop in České Budějovice), guide and courier, František Zahrádka, starting in 1949, was guiding refugees across the border of Czechoslovakia. Moreover, he took part, within a resistance group called “In the name of truth,” in making and distributing anti-Communist leaflets. He c…

Roklan Cabin Šumava National Park, Modrava 59, 341 92 Modrava, Czech Republic
Horseplay below Roklan Peak
Horseplay below Roklan PeakMgr. František Mandák

In 1956 František Mandák began his compulsory military service with the Border Guards. After initial training he was allocated to Roklan Company, named after one of the highest Šumava peaks nearby. His new life was one full of the sparking electricity of the Iron Curtain fences, full of drills in…

Rozvadov (Roßhaupt), border checkpoint 605, 348 06 Rozvadov, Czech Republic
A tragic attempt to break through the border barrier
A tragic attempt to break through the border barrier

In Rozvadov in early May 1953, forty-two-year-old Josef Blažek, (* 22 Mar 1911, † 9 May 1953), attempted to drive his automobile through the boom gate. The dental technician presumed that the boom gate would be made from wood, and he did not expect that the border guards would shoot at him. Al…

An easy escape
An easy escapePavel Schnabel

September the 6th will always remain a holiday for Pavel Schnabel. In 1968, he began a new life on this day after he had crossed the Czechoslovak-German border – but not in Rozvadov! After witnessing the events of the so-called “Prague Spring” as a student, he went to his parents’ house in Libere…

Romance at the border between Bohemia and Germany
Romance at the border between Bohemia and GermanyJiří Tuček

Jiří Tuček, a Czech, met his future wife Iris Smíchek during a trip to London. They fell in love and started dating, even though they were separated by the German-Czechoslovak border for two years, (1970 – 1972). The border checkpoint in Rozvadov symbolically represents their separation, but also…

Rozvadov, Diana 19715, 348 06 Rozvadov, Czech Republic
A fatal struggle with a guardsman in the border zone
A fatal struggle with a guardsman in the border zone

In June 1948 in Dianaberg (now Diana, a part of Rozvadov), a member of the Border Guard shot František Dolejš, a 33-year-old photographer from the Prague district of Smíchov. Dolejš had unsuccessfully tried to emigrate and was struggling with Border Guard Šimek for his rifle when he was shot; he …

Rozvadov, Iron Curtain Museum Rozvadov 20, 348 06 Rozvadov, Czech Republic
The testimony of a contemporary witness
The testimony of a contemporary witnessJiří Tuček

There’s a guest book in one of the rooms of the Iron Curtain Museum, where you can immortalize yourself. Jiří Tuček and his wife used this opportunity at the occasion of their visit of the museum on August 8, 2013. Their entry into the guest book reads: “I spent many, many hours waiting here at t…

Řasnice and Mechový potok Creek, a confluence Schnellenzipf 36, 94145 Haidmühle, Germany
The bullets whizzed next to our heads as we lay there
The bullets whizzed next to our heads as we lay thereEgon Urmann

Egon Urmann recalls a story of his mother from the time shortly after the war, when the German population was being expelled from the Šumava borderlands: “My mom told me that we didn’t have much property to carry across the border. However, she would help others to save their property. She would …

Săcălaz Săcălaz 307370, Romania
Deported from Săcălaz (17/18 of June 1951)
Deported from Săcălaz (17/18 of June 1951)Evdochia Tătaru

In 1946, shortly after her marriage to Filip Tătaru, Evdochia Tătaru moved to Săcălaz, where they managed to establish their own farm. On the night of 17-18 June 1951, forty-four thousand people from within a twenty-five km radius of Romania’s border with Yugoslavia were taken from their homes an…

Slavonice Slavonice, Czech Republic
She had to interpret during the interrogations
She had to interpret during the interrogationsHelena Šprinclová

After the Second World War, Slavonice became the scene of “national cleansing” and the expulsion of the indigenous German population. Mrs. Šprinclová – a Viennese who married a Czech – was due to her origin considered a nationally unreliable person. Nevertheless, the post-February regime didn’t h…

Solitary house U Vítků Pocinovice 45, 345 09 Pocinovice, Czech Republic
We Were Looking For a Hole in the Iron Curtain
We Were Looking For a Hole in the Iron CurtainJosef Touš

After February 1948 a lot of friends of the Touš family, who had troubles after establishing the new regime in Czechoslovakia, asked for a big favour. They wanted Václav Touš to guard them to Germany. Though their house was not straight at the borders it was possible to go to the border un…

Sopron (Ödenburg) 9494 Sopron, Fürdő sor 49, Hungary
A hole underneath the fence
A hole underneath the fenceChristian Weiss

During a summer holiday in Hungary in 1989, Christian Weiss fled at the age of 13 with his family across the Hungarian border to Austria. Their escape began in Sopron (Ödenburg), where the family was helped by a woman in a flower shop, who told them about a suitable place for escape and handed …

Spálenec 190, Česká Kubice, Czech Republic
Great Guy Nevečeřal
Great Guy NevečeřalJiří Minařík

Jiří Minařík served in the 9th brigade of the Border Guard in Pobřežovice from 1957 to 1959. He recalls a successful escape across the border in the area of Spálenec company. “The only truly great guy was Nevečeřal. He was on the junior pole vaulting team. He came from the Prague district of Libe…

He crossed the state border by accident
He crossed the state border by accidentDalibor Plšek

Not merely agents and political émigrés would cross the Iron Curtain. Former border guard Dalibor Plšek recalls that in 1968, the border guards arrested an elderly German gentleman. The elderly man saw a fire in Spálenec on the Czech side of the border and was afraid that the forest might catch f…

Starý Knín, the house of the Budínský family Staroknínská 322, 262 03 Nový Knín, Czech Republic
With a child she stood in the way of the State Security
With a child she stood in the way of the State SecurityHelena Šidáková

On Maundy Thursday on 14th April 1949 sacristan Budínský was walking home from a nearby church. In the church he was preparing the Easter mass. Suddenly, a car had stopped by him, he was showing something for a while, then he got in the car and left, the neighbours later described to the B…

Szombathely Szombathely, Hungary
Tea in time of martial law
Tea in time of martial lawJenő Ivánfi

Budapest was in ruins. Soviet soldiers and Hungarian political policemen patrolled the streets regularly. 'It is impossible to live here.' – three Hungarian young men decided to leave the country at the end of November 1956. Ivánfi recalled: "The western border was already under the control of th…

The hotel was packed
The hotel was packedZoltán Gúth

Zoltán Gúth met some young guys in the pub of the railway station in Pusztaszabolcs in the winter of 1957. They were a bit tipsy. They spoke loudly about how they would cross the border. Zoltán Gúth joined them for the spirit of adventure. He offered himself to be their guide: "Listen to me! I kn…

Šaštín-Stráže Kláštorné námestie 1295, 908 41 Šaštín-Stráže-Šaštín, Slovakia
Barbarism of Power
Barbarism of PowerŠtefan Šilhár

After the takeover in 1948 the communist regime made many efforts to gain control of churches and religious orders in Slovakia. During the night of April 13 – 14, 1950 there was a so-called Action “K,” (Monasteries – “Kláštory”), and a few months later also an Action “R” (Nuns – “Rehoľníčky”). Wi…

The border crossing Furth im Wald/Folmava Böhmerstraße 62, 93437 Furth im Wald, Germany
8 days between the borders
8 days between the bordersGerhard Hoch

Since the late 1960s, Gerhard Hoch worked as a police officer at the border crossing Furth im Wald, where he had a chance to witness the brutality of the border controls. Once a Roma family wanted to travel from Czechoslovakia to the Federal Republic of Germany. The Czechoslovak officials let…

Escaping on a light airplane
Escaping on a light airplaneGerhard Hoch

Since the late 1960s, Gerhard Hoch had worked as a police officer at the border crossing Furth im Wald. There he witnessed numerous attempts to escape across the border in various ways. Once a Slovak got across the border on a light airplane. He had built that plane himself using the engine of a…

Fleeing in a wooden box
Fleeing in a wooden boxGerhard Hoch

Since the late 1960s, Gerhard Hoch had worked as a police officer at the border crossing Furth im Wald. There he witnessed numerous attempts to escape across the border in various ways. Once a Romanian tried to escape to West Germany on a train. In Romania, he worked in a factory that…

Practical entry support
Practical entry supportGerhard Hoch

Since the late 1960s, Gerhard Hoch had worked as a police officer at the border crossing Furth im Wald. There he witnessed the occasional brutality of the border controls. The Czechoslovak officials would keep people waiting for hours in the heat only to be denied entry to the FRG in the end. A…

The lost service pistol
The lost service pistolGerhard Hoch

Since the late 1960s, Gerhard Hoch worked as a police officer at the border crossing Furth im Wald. In this position, he had always cooperated with his Czechoslovak colleagues on the other side of the border. One case was particularly delicate: a Czechoslovak customs officer had climbed on the…

The Mezilesní moor – the secluded place Torfstich 168, Šumava National Park, 385 01 Nové Hutě, Czech Republic
The end of the secluded place Torfstich
The end of the secluded place TorfstichEduard Steun

In the 1950s, Eduard Steun was a boy living in a gamekeeper’s lodge in Zlatá Studna, near Horská Kvilda in Šumava. Among other things, he witnessed the events associated with the last “hunt” for the so-called “King of Šumava,” Kilian Nowotný. After he had been attacked by the police at the bridge…

The Modrý sloup border crossing Böhmer Weg, Nationalpark Bayerischer Wald, 94078 Neuschönau, Germany
To the gingerbread house
To the gingerbread houseAnna Šrotýřová

In early summer 1949, Anna Šrotýřová, with her two young daughters, illegally crossed the border of Communist Czechoslovakia somewhere in the area of the former border crossing Modrý sloup. Six months earlier, her husband had escaped to Bavaria and in July 1949, Anna Šrotýřová was supposed to be …

Timişoara Timișoara, Romania
1956 - The Student Movements in Timişoara
1956 - The Student Movements in TimişoaraAurel Baghiu

During the Hungarian Revolution, Aurel Baghiu was on his fifth year at the Mechanics Faculty of the Polytechnic Institute in Timişoara. Together with other colleagues, he set up an initiative group to organize and coordinate protest actions. On the 30th of October, they managed to organize a …

Protests of the students in Timişoara in October 1956
Protests of the students in Timişoara in October 1956Teodor Stanca

At the end of October 1956, over 2,000 students from Timişoara organized wide protests, sympathizing with the Hungarian Revolution. Teodor Stanca was considered one of the leaders of these movements. He was one of the students who set up an initiative group to organize and coordinate protest …

Torgau on the Elbe, prison Am Fort Zinna 7, 04860 Torgau, Germany
In captivity
In captivityFrank Plunze

After several failed escape attempts and after pleading guilty, Frank Plunze was convicted “as a terrorist under section 101 and 218” for trying to illegally cross the border. On August 30, 1982, he was imprisoned in Torgau. Plunze recalls: “There I spent almost five years under the worst condi…

Tri-border area, border river Hinterprex 19, 95194 Regnitzlosau, Germany
Crossing the border
Crossing the borderAndreas Schumann

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…

Trojmezí (Dreiländereck), fortified post of a hidden patrol 2174, 352 01 Hranice, Czech Republic
The cooperation of Czechoslovak and East-German border…
The cooperation of Czechoslovak and East-German border…

In the first half of the 1970s, the number of East-German citizens who were trying to get across the Czechoslovak border to the West was on the rise. One of the main border regions used by the fugitives to get to West Germany, was the Tri-border area, (Trojmezí). However, this surge in escape …

Tři Sekery 20175, 353 01 Tři Sekery, Czech Republic
They Shot Me in the Belly
They Shot Me in the BellyMiloslav Komínek

In March 1948, Miloslav Komínek and several of his friends decided to cross the border and flee from Communist Czechoslovakia. As a trained pilot, he was supposed to shoot two movies in the USA in which he was supposed to do the acrobatic flying, but the regime did not allow him to leave the …

Úvaly, Czech - Austrian border Steinebrunn 139, 2165 Steinebrunn, Austria
A young woman fell victim to a land mine
A young woman fell victim to a land mine

Twenty-three-year-old Olga Fictumová attempted to cross the border to Austria close to Úvaly near Mikulov; she died after having stepped on one of the anti-infantry mines installed along the border barrier shortly after midnight on 3 June 1953. This brutal method of protecting the state border w…

Valtice, borders between Austria and Czechoslovakia 41412, 691 42 Valtice, Czech Republic
Revealed
Revealed

Josef Čoček, an agent-walker, used to secretly cross the border with Austria near Valtice for several times. He was an agent of an American secret service MIC. Between 1951 and 1953 he used to bring secret news and also helped to people, who were in danger of arrest in Czechoslovakia, to a free w…

Valtice, the Czech-Austrian border 41414, 691 42 Valtice, Czech Republic
He helped cross the borders and ended up in prison at…
He helped cross the borders and ended up in prison at…Milan Kolář

On the afternoon of 19 November 1948, grammar school student Milan Kolář went to the pub to play billiards with his friends. While there he made the acquaintance of two youngsters, who confided in him that they were threatened by prison and needed help. Milan felt sorry for them and invited them …

Returning to Czechoslovakia in the role of an agent
Returning to Czechoslovakia in the role of an agentMiroslav Procházka

Less than a year after he had been forced to leave his homeland, Miroslav Procházka together with his friend Cyril Sláma, returned to Czechoslovakia in the role of agents of the exile intelligence service. They were trained in Great Britain how to handle a gun and how to operate a radio set and i…

Velhartice Castle Státní hrad Velhartice 341 42 Velhartice, Czech Republic
Some of the Boys Cried
Some of the Boys CriedJosef Nedvěd

In the fifties there was a training of the border guards in the castle in Velhartice. The recruits went through several-month-lasting preparations for the duty in the border zone and a band gap. Josef Nedvěd was one of the thirty recruits who were placed to the cavalry of the border guard. The …

Velký Bor (the Bohemian Forest) 16911, Šumava National Park, 342 01 Prášily, Czech Republic
A people smuggler
A people smuggler

Less than four kilometres from Prášily in the direction of Srní, a village called Velký Bor could be found with 70 houses. After the displacement of the original inhabitants and the establishment of the Iron Curtain it was – like many other villages in the border zone – completely demolished. In …

Vienna, Porzellangasse Porzellangasse, 1090 Vienna, Austria
Jeez, you are Hrušková!
Jeez, you are Hrušková!Julie Hrušková

On Monday March 14, 1949 at eight o´clock in the morning four young people came to the 430th department of American CIC that was in the Porzellangasse Street in Vienna. The first one to prove her identity was a young girl, the officer shouted out: “Jeez, you are Julie Hrušková!” It was true. “Yes…

Vienna, The Northwest Railway Station Nordwestbahnstraße 12-14, Frachtenbahnhof Nordwestbahnhof, 1200 …
The Arrival to Vienna
The Arrival to ViennaJulie Hrušková

After the Second World War the South-West Vienna Railway Station was in the Soviet occupation zone. Julie Hrušková and the friends she escaped with to Austria in March 1949, knew that potential arrest by the Soviets would have had very bad consequences. A railwayman from Pleissing gave them the i…

Vimperk náměstí Svobody 46, 385 01 Vimperk, Czech Republic
Reverend, they want to arrest you
Reverend, they want to arrest youKarel Fořt

The freshly ordained priest Karel Fořt came in 1948 to Vimperk as a chaplain. Along with him, there were two more young priests and the vicar Wolfgang Jileček in Vimperk. Jileček was later arrested and sentenced to many years in prison for aiding fugitives to cross the state border and escape fr…

Vranov nad Dyjí, Gamekeeper’s Lodge Felicino údolí 101, Podyjí National Park, 671 03 Vranov nad Dyjí, C…
The Preps for Running Away
The Preps for Running AwayJulie Hrušková

In 1949, Julie Hrušková who just turned twenty met a co-worker who urgently needed to be guarded across the border. Because she also hated the communists and her father was a game warden in the borderlands, they firmed the plans soon and decided to escape together with two other young guys. M…

Vranov nad Dyjí, State Border Felling, 2092, Austria
The Border Crossing
The Border CrossingJulie Hrušková

In March 1949 the group of young people from Czechoslovakia decided to cross the borders to Austria. The head of this group was Julie Hrušková, whose father was a game warden in a nearby Vranov. Julie, the child of the woods, knew the terrain very well. At about three o´clock in the afternoon th…

Vseruby, a memorial 184, Všeruby, Czech Republic
The smuggling network of Ota Tulačka
The smuggling network of Ota TulačkaMilada Pabiánová, née Tu…

After the communist coup, Milada Pabiánová's father Ota Tulačka created a prominent smuggling network. It included the smuggling of major figures such as Col. Alexander Hess, the commander of the 310th Fighter Squadron of the Royal Air Force, Ivana Tigridová, and Chancellor to President Beneš, Ja…

Všeruby – Pomezí, an area between two villages 190, 345 07 Všeruby, Czech Republic
The crying that attracted the frontier guard’s attention
The crying that attracted the frontier guard’s attentionHelena Šidáková

Three young women, Jarka Navrátilová, Růžena Lieblová, and Helena Šidáková, with Helen’s one-year-old son Zdeněk wrapped in a swaddle, were left alone. Their guide had left them there because he had to return to Dobříkov before dawn. Seventeen-year-old Jindřiška Budínská had returned with him, as…

Všeruby; company 184, 345 07 Všeruby, Czech Republic
The Shreds from the Bodies Were Sickening
The Shreds from the Bodies Were SickeningJiří Minařík

Jiří Minařík served in the Border Guard from 1957 to 1959. At that time, the border guards were ordered to clear abandoned villages and buildings in the border area. Minařík recalls: “Once we were in deep shit. An accident happened between the villages of Všeruby and Maxov. Army engineers were bl…

Vysoké lávky 16911, Šumava National Park, 342 01 Prášily, Czech Republic
The comrades thought...
The comrades thought...Emil Kintzl

During the holidays of 1948, Emil Kintzl participated in the last Scout camp to be held before the Scout was abolished by the communist regime. It took place near an abandoned German village called Vysoké Lávky. The camp was a part of the “Boy Scouts to the help of Šumava” initiative. The Scouts …

Waldsassen Basilikaplatz, 95652 Waldsassen, Germany
He could tell he was in Germany by the goods in the store
He could tell he was in Germany by the goods in the storeMilan Nerad

Milan Nerad had already in the past fought against the communist regime and in 1950 he resolved to escape to West Germany. In November 1950, he set out on his journey from Cheb, leaving at 16:00 and arriving in the Bavarian town of Waldsassen at 23:00. He doesn't exactly recall the route he’d t…

Znojmo Čermákova 2322/9, 669 02 Znojmo, Czech Republic
The StB Commander Helped Me
The StB Commander Helped MeMajor General (ret.) Miloš …

Shortly after February 1948 the then Major Miloš Knorr was removed from his office of professor at War University in Prague because of his activities in western armies during the Second World War. Miloš Knorr knew that nothing good awaited him in Czechoslovakia so he started to plan his escape f…

Zvonková Zvonková 141, Šumava National Park, 384 51 Horní Planá, Czech Republic
The first church in the borderlands that was restored
The first church in the borderlands that was restored

Mrs. Emma Marx was born in a German family in Zvonková. In 1946, she and the other village residents had to leave their homes because the village was located in the border zone. Thus, the village gradually disappeared from the face of the earth. Marx had to wait for a long time to revisit her …

Želešice Želešice, Czech Republic
Hiding partisans
Hiding partisansMiroslav Procházka

Miroslav Procházka joined the resistance activities after his unsuccessful escape attempt to Western Europe. Initially, it worked well. At the turn of the 1940s and 1950s, Miroslav was hiding a former English pilot, by the name of Salajka, in his family house in the village of Želešice. Salajka w…

Železná Ruda, Černé jezero Černé jezero 340 22 Železná Ruda, Czech Republic
Crossing the border with a backpack
Crossing the border with a backpackVladimír Beneš

In the year 1948, Vladimír Beneš took part in some voluntary work in the border region of Šumava. His chief from the Boy Scout asked him whether he would like to accompany someone across the border. Beneš recalls: “I went to see my father and asked him what he thought about that. He took a momen…

Žiar nad Hronom Svätokrížske námestie 261/27, 965 01 Žiar nad Hronom, Slovakia
The Fish Arrived, I Didn’t
The Fish Arrived, I Didn’tDon Jozef Hrdý

Jozef Hrdý belongs to the first Salesians, who, shortly after the communist takeover, realized that their priestly service might be freely done only behind the Iron Curtain. He stated: “I saw that it was all going to the dogs, but my superiors didn't want to believe it.” The first attempt to cros…

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