East German defector and his captor meet again, 30 years later | Culture | Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 07.11.2019

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East German defector and his captor meet again, 30 years later

Jürgen Cyrulik wanted out of East Germany, but didn't know how. Fleeing through Bulgaria seemed like a possibility, so in 1988, he dared the escape but was captured. 30 years on, he meets the border guard who caught him.

Watch video 40:39

The defector and the border guard: A reencounter

On one side is a young man from the East German state, the GDR, who attempted to cross the Iron Curtain via the Bulgarian-Turkish border. One the other side is a duty-bound Bulgarian border soldier in his mid 30s, who wants to protect his country's border at all costs. In 1988, the two men meet. The soldier catches the East German citizen during his attempted escape and transfers him to GDR state security.

Film Der Flüchtling und der Grenzer Bulgarien

Jürgen Cyrulik and Stoyan Todorov

More than 30 years later, they meet again at the same spot where they had their first encounter. The reunion was captured on camera in a DW exclusive documentary.

What were their motives? How have their lives been since? How did their experiences with the border impact their lives? A chapter of German-Bulgarian history that is not well known, and that is still taboo in Bulgaria.

In this special DW documentary now broadcast on YouTube, we show you how history has come full circle. 


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