Gunfire in the Woods: A foiled escape and imprisonment in East Germany

This is part two of Henrik’s story. You can hear the first part in episode 307.

It’s the late 1980s and Henrik and his friends plan to escape from East Germany via Czechoslovakia.

Henrik provides a very vivid account of their discovery by Czechoslovak border guards in a forest near the Austrian border. He describes the moment the guards open fire to get them to stop.

Map drawn by Czechoslovak border guards showing Henrik’s route as a red dotted line. The edge of woods is indicated by blue and the border fence is the black line

Henrik is separated from his friends and held in various Czechoslovak prisons, before being flown back to East Germany. There he is interrogated for a number of months before being placed on trial.

After his conviction for Republikflucht or “desertion from the republic” he is held on in a rough criminal prison in Dresden before being moved to a work camp.

The prison and work camp has two types of prisoners, politicals and criminals. There he is exposed to the hardcore criminals of the GDR, violent criminals, murderers and neo-Nazis.

Extra episode information

Henrik’s Cold War playlist – He tells me that if his life was made into a movie this would be the soundtrack…

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