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Just Get Over There

Just Get over There!

In the forty years of its existence, East Germany lost three million of its citizens to the West. Many risked their lives to flee. This six-part series tells the story of some of the most spectacular escapes.

During the forty years from the German Democratic Republic's founding in October, 1949, to the fall of the Wall on November 9th, 1989, some three million of its citizens "fled the republic" - a serious drain on its average population of 17 million. Many risked their lives to get over the iron curtain. This six-part series looks at some of the more spectacular escapes.

Fleeing East Germany through a Sewer

Through a sewer pipe to West Berlin

August 13th, 1961 - the day the Berlin Wall was built. Like millions of others, Karin and Karl-Heinz Albert were taken by surprise. Immediately, they started looking for a way to escape to the West. A Friend, Dieter Wohlfahrt, found one for them through a sewer tunnel under the sector boundary.

Karl-Heinz Albert is still haunted by the death of his friend

Two months later, Dieter Wohlfahrt and Karl-Heinz Albert tried to help another refugee cross into the West but were spotted by an East German border patrol. Dieter Wohlfahrt was shot and killed right next to his friend - a traumatic memory that haunts Karl-Heinz Albert to this day.

Broadcasting Times:

DW-TV and DW-TV USA/LATIN AMERICA/ARABIA
SAT 18.10.2008 - 18:30 UTC
SUN 19.10.2008 - 06:30 UTC
MON 20.10.2008 - 12:30 UTC

Flight to Freedom

Three brothers, three escapes

Three brothers, three escapes, three incredible stories: Ingo, Holger and Egbert Bethke, grew up as sons of dedicated communists in Adlershof, a suburb of East Berlin. Ingo had the idea of trying to flee to the West when he was sixteen. After a year and a half of planning, he threaded his way through the fences and minefields and floated across the Elbe river clinging to an air mattress.

They flew to the West in an ultra-light aircraft and landed in front of the Reichstag

Years later, his brother Holger used a bow and arrow to shoot a wire from a rooftop across the Berlin Wall, where Ingo stood waiting. They ran a steel cable over the Death Strip, Ingo fastened it to his car, and Holger rolled down it on wheels. Later, the two flew back in ultra-light aircraft to pick up the third brother Egbert.

DW-TV and DW-TV USA/LATIN AMERICA/ARABIA
SAT 25.10.2008 - 18:30 UTC
SUN 26.10.2008 - 06:30 UTC
MON 27.10.2008 - 12:30 UTC

Clandestine Escape

In 1984, somewhere in the mountains of Soviet-occupied Afghanistan, a solitary woman fled - from East Germany.

Kerstin Beck on West German television in 1984, after her escape

For years, Kerstin Beck had carried the dream, and then the plan, and now its realization in her heart and mind. She was a 24-year-old student at East Berlin's Humboldt University who had come to Afghanistan for intensive language training. From the day she had arrived in Kabul six months before, she knew she would not return to East Germany. "I couldn't live the way I wanted; I couldn't study what I wanted. I only knew one corner of the world, but I wanted to see all of it." A group of Mujaheddin disguised Kerstin Beck under a chador, the traditional full-body covering worn by Afghan women, and smuggled her out of the city. They spirited her across the Hindu Kush mountains. But the East German student's disappearance was noticed in one place even as her appearance was discovered in another.

DW-TV and DW-TV USA/LATIN AMERICA/ARABIA
SAT 01.11.2008 - 18:30 UTC
SUN 02.11.2008 - 06:30 UTC
MON 03.11.2008 - 12:30 UTC

The Holiday of No Return

On their honeymoon, the Riems make a snap decision to flee

"Just to think about it - I was 21 years old, and we had a baby with us!" Tears well up in Berit Riem's eyes - even after twenty years of trying to put her experience behind her. On their honeymoon trip to Hungary, the young East German family made a snap decision to flee to the West.

Escape hidden in a camper

A Swiss couple agreed to smuggle them across the Hungarian border to Yugoslavia. They sewed her husband and infant child up in a mattress and shut Berit inside the water tank of their camper. Just as border guards were checking the camper, the baby started to cry.

DW-TV EUROPE / AFRICA / ASIA
SAT 08.11.2008 - 18:30 UTC
SUN 09.11.2008 - 06:30 UTC
MON 10.11.2008 - 12:30 UTC

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SAT 08.11.2008 - 20:30 UTC
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SAT 08.11.2008 - 20:30 UTC
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MON 10.11.2008 - 04:30 UTC


Kicking for the Class Enemy

For the first time, Falko Götz tells his story in front of the camera

Germans know Falko Götz as a star player on the soccer pitch and a veteran coach for the Bundesliga team Hertha BSC.

From the Stasi archives: Falko Götz on West German television after his escape

But few people know that Götz made one of the hardest decisions of his life at age 21, when he left his career, his family, his home and his country behind - in East Germany. He wanted more out of life than to be a standard-bearer for heavily doped East German soccer. He cared little for the privileges of an athlete and his duties to the state. He wanted to be free. Here, for the first time, Falko Götz goes into detail about his escape and the consequences it had for his life. And he tells about the freedom he actually found.

DW-TV EUROPE / AFRICA / ASIA
SAT 15.11.2008 - 18:30 UTC
SUN 16.11.2008 - 06:30 UTC
MON 17.11.2008 - 12:30 UTC

DW-TV USA
SAT 15.11.2008 - 20:30 UTC
SUN 16.11.2008 - 12:30 UTC
MON 17.11.2008 - 00:30 UTC

DW-TV LATIN AMERICA
SAT 15.11.2008 - 20:30 UTC
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SUN 16.11.2008 - 12:30 UTC
MON 17.11.2008 - 04:30 UTC

Many set course for freedom across the Baltic Sea

Sailing to Freedom

On August 10th, 1986, three men in a boat - Klaus Ebeling and his two sons - set course for freedom. They attempted to escape from East Germany across the Baltic Sea. As if out of nowhere, a helicopter appeared and hovered just overhead - and then a second. And then two coastguard cutters from Warnemünde bore down on the little motorboat - joined by a border patrol boat from seaward. It was as if all hell had broken loose.

The Ebeling Family – Klaus Ebeling resolved to escape

One son was injured and the boat severely damaged. Ebeling gave up. He had no other choice. All he could look forward to now was a long prison sentence. In May, 1987, he was released unexpectedly early. West Germany had bought his freedom. Over 20 years later, Klaus Ebeling returns to the beach near Zwingst to think back. Was it all worth it? Was it right for him to risk his own and his sons' lives?

DW-TV EUROPE / AFRICA / ASIA
SAT 22.11.2008 - 18:30 UTC
SUN 23.11.2008 - 06:30 UTC
MON 24.11.2008 - 12:30 UTC

DW-TV USA
SAT 22.11.2008 - 20:30 UTC
SUN 23.11.2008 - 12:30 UTC
MON 24.11.2008 - 00:30 UTC

DW-TV LATIN AMERICA
SAT 22.11.2008 - 20:30 UTC
SUN 23.11.2008 - 04:30 UTC

DW-TV ARABIA
SAT 22.11.2008 - 20:30 UTC
SUN 23.11.2008 - 12:30 UTC
MON 24.11.2008 - 04:30 UTC

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