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Willy Brandt flight to Berlin 1989

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Willy Brandt flight to Berlin 1989

Old 13th Dec 2020, 20:33
  #21 (permalink)  
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Re, the East Germans receiving the DMK100. Begruessungs geld (Welcome money). I found this a kind gesture.
I travelled many times to the GDR in the 80's and didn't find the people poor and comparing what the Ostmark
could buy in the GDR. (Not a car of course) they certainly could afford what they needed. Food was generally
good. rent was cheap, cars were a disgrace, and not being able to travel to the West was unacceptable.
My last visit ended the day after President Reagan's speech "Mr Gorbachev tear down this Wall" on June
12th 1987. I had been staying at the Palast Hotel in East Berlin the night before, and had dinner at the
Palast der Republik restaurant with two East German friends, and two American friends. soon enough
two chaps joined a table next to ours, and were interested in our conversation. My East German friends
were going to attempt to escape, (Separately) I had discussed my departure from East Berlin to Check
point Charlie then TXL-MAN. After the dinner, I was feeling a little uneasy about my plans, so when visiting
West Berlin on the day of the Reagan Speech, I went to Finnair, and changed my flight SXF/HEL/LHR/MAN
before returning the the Palast Hotel in East Berlin.. My friends did attempt to escape, and both were caught.
I was able to have one of them put on the "Freikauf" list, and his case referred to the Wolfgang Vogel lawyers
office. He got 26 years in jail, and was released on the fall of the wall. The other friend was released after
serving several months in the Hohenschoenhausen prison.
I have written at length about the GDR under:
ww2f.com Wolfgang Vogel East German Spy Swapper dies at 82.

Lance Shippey




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Old 13th Dec 2020, 21:14
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Dramatic story. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 14th Dec 2020, 07:15
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Originally Posted by Lance Shippey View Post
I went to Finnair, and changed my flight SXF/HEL/LHR/MAN


Lance Shippey
Interesting story. What was your reason for choosing Finnair/HEL route over other options? To my understanding there were scheduled flights eg. to Amsterdam by KLM and to Stockholm and Copenhagen as well (although apparently with Interflug, so if you want to avoid DDR officials it wouldn't be optimal choice).
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Old 14th Dec 2020, 08:00
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All actual border checkpoints were guarded by staff of the "Pass- und Kontrolleinheiten (PKE)" belonging to Stasi (just wearing border guard uniforms). Whether Schönefeld airport or Checkpoint Charlie. So leaving East Germany one way or the other they would know in any case it's you who is leaving. There was no quiet way out. Maybe the quietest was via Czechoslovakia. As a pedestrian you could even walk over the border at remote places like at Erzgebirge mountainside.
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Old 14th Dec 2020, 08:54
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Originally Posted by Less Hair View Post
All actual border checkpoints were guarded by staff of the "Pass- und Kontrolleinheiten (PKE)" belonging to Stasi (just wearing border guard uniforms). Whether Schönefeld airport or Checkpoint Charlie. So leaving East Germany one way or the other they would know in any case it's you who is leaving. There was no quiet way out. Maybe the quietest was via Czechoslovakia. As a pedestrian you could even walk over the border at remote places like at Erzgebirge mountainside.
Thank you Less Hair. I was just left a bit puzzled by the reasoning in changing direct flights from TXL to indirect from SXF, and was considering the possibility of unwillingness to cross the border by land (I understood from the story that there was a wish to distract the Stasi as they thought the author was leaving via Checkpoint Charlie).
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Old 14th Dec 2020, 12:02
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Originally Posted by Lance Shippey View Post
. My friends did attempt to escape, and both were caught.
I was able to have one of them put on the "Freikauf" list, and his case referred to the Wolfgang Vogel lawyers
office. He got 26 years in jail, and was released on the fall of the wall. The other friend was released after
serving several months in the Hohenschoenhausen prison.
Lance Shippey
I'm rather puzzled here. If your friends were "enemies of the state " then why go to such a high-profle restaurant ? If they weren't, then I don't understand why any prison sentence at all: yes, there might well be some degree of detention for interrogation ( depending on who you were and what was known ), but ordinary citizens did not get locked up just for consorting with Westerners.
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Old 14th Dec 2020, 12:09
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That depended. Anybody knowing "secrets", and that would start with minor local farmers association officials, could get in hot water just for meeting westeners. People had to change shared tables in restaurants for this very reason. If you were any member of the armed forces in the east they had some entire new set of much stricter penal laws for you. Including capital punishment for many reasons!
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Old 14th Dec 2020, 12:09
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Originally Posted by Tartiflette Fan View Post
I'm rather puzzled here. If your friends were "enemies of the state " then why go to such a high-profle restaurant ? If they weren't, then I don't understand why any prison sentence at all: yes, there might well be some degree of detention for interrogation ( depending on who you were and what was known ), but ordinary citizens did not get locked up just for consorting with Westerners.
sentenced for trying to defect? Not for being "enemy of the state" prior to escape?
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Old 14th Dec 2020, 12:45
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Dear Beamr and Less Hair,
I was part of a Special Tour Group of Americans including an
American retired General. We had started the tour in Helsinki,
and travelled by Finnish coach to Leningrad and Moscow. We
arrived LED hotel the day Mathias Rust landed his Cessna 172
on the bridge next to Red Square. I was told by a Finnish guide
friend of the Rust landing. Our Intourist KGB guide got very very
annoyed that I had the information, and she didn't. As the tour
progressed, I and two Americans (I knew well from previous
tours} got "Done over" by the KGB on the Brest border crossing
into Poland. Leaving Poland for the DDR I was addressed by the
Stasi border guard in German, saying he knew I spoke German.
I chose SXF/HEL/LHR/MAN with AY because the group were
leaving on AY SXF/HEL/JFK and I wanted the two Americans I
knew well to board after I had boarded, to make sure I had not
been detained. The Stasi tried, and when I told them I would be
the third last to board, my passport was thrown at me, hitting the
floor, and sliding onto the air bridge. In 1992 I returned to West
Berlin, and met on of my East German friends who had spent
time in Hohenschoenhausen prison before an amnesty, and being
thrown out of the DDR. He told me that his Stasi interrogators
had told him that I was to be "Gekidnapped" . This would have
likely happened on leaving via Checkpoint Charlie. (had I kept
my original booking TXL/MAN). I have great trust in AY, and having
used them on many flights from HEL to LED and MOS, I knew
the Finnish staff in LED and MOS, they allowed me to use their
photocopier (they were banned in the USSR} and read Western
press, which was also banned. I therefore knew they would help
me in Berlin, rewriting by BA tkt.

Lance Shippey
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Old 14th Dec 2020, 12:51
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Originally Posted by Beamr View Post
sentenced for trying to defect? Not for being "enemy of the state" prior to escape?
People captured whilst actually trying to escape would usually "only" get eight to 10 years, so 26 years for meeting Westeners makes no sense.at all.
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Old 14th Dec 2020, 13:02
  #31 (permalink)  
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Regarding the high profile restaurant in Palast der Rebublik,
I have asked myself many times. The restaurant was chosen
by one of the East German friends Mario Roellig, He had been
pressured by the Stasi to work as informer for them, he refused
and was moved from a lucrative waiters position at SXF to a
pot washer in the bahnhof mission next to Friedrichstrasse S-
bahn. Mario also had a close friendship with a West Berlin
politician, so was of great interest to the Stasi. I think that
Mario may have been pressured into arranging the restaurant
I and my American friends dine at. There us a lot of info on the
web about Mario, He also made a film "Der Ost Komplex"
which was released a couple of years ago.

Lance Shippey
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Old 14th Dec 2020, 15:38
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Originally Posted by Lance Shippey View Post
I was part of a Special Tour Group of Americans including an
American retired General. We had started the tour in Helsinki,
and travelled by Finnish coach to Leningrad and Moscow.
Lance Shippey
May I ask what was your position at the time, why were you along and why did Stasi want you to be "Gekidnapped"? Would you happen to remember the name of that Finnish coach company?
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Old 14th Dec 2020, 15:51
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Dear Tartiflette Fan,
26 years makes sense if you were in Soldiers uniform
and trying to swim part of the Baltic to reach the BRD.
My friend (not Mario) was doing his National service nr.
the Baltic sea, and with another soldier, tried to swim to
the BRD. He was caught, along with his comrade, who
had been shot, The injured boy died by "Drowning at the
scene" My friend was arrested for trying to cross a border,
but more seriously for desertion from the DDR army.
I put him on the Freikauf (ransom} through the Ministry
for Intra German Affairs in Bonn and West Berlin. They
agreed to pay the $19000. for his eventual release. He
was represented by Dieter Starkulla, one of the Lawyers
in the Wolfgang Vogel, Starkulla , and Hartmann East
German lawyers office. I had access by phone to the
Lawyers office, and was told we had to stay in jail for
some time, before they would allow to deal to go through.
He was locked up in the Prison in Neubrandenburg, and
forced to work producing electronics for Olivetti electric
typewriters to be sold in the West. He was eventually
released in 1990., and sent to Duesseldorf, where he
was accommodated on a Rhine Ship. He still lives in
Duesseldorf. The $19000. was not paid by the West
German Government due to the wall falling. The second
to last fatality at the wall, just before it fell was Chris
Guefroy, He worked with Mario as waiter at the restaurant
at SXF.

Lance Shippey.
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Old 14th Dec 2020, 15:56
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Slight correction, should read
"and was told he had to stay in jail"
rather than "we had to stay"
sorry for the typo
Lance
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Old 15th Dec 2020, 00:11
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All interesting stuff. I had been to both sides of Berlin a couple of times and like many was fascinated by the TV news reports coming, and nearly went to see it all happen for myself. I actually found return availability on the Dan-Air schedule from Gatwick to Tegel but was defeated by not finding hotel accommodation, phoned where I had been before but they were full, it looked a bit chaotic to turn up on spec.

There were a range of travel nuances. Allies (ie UK/USA/France) could quite readily get into East Berlin, but not beyond into the DDR. Schonefeld was actually just beyond the East Berlin boundary, in GDR proper, so all the panoply of crossing the line applied, though there was a certain acceptance if holding air tickets it seemed. There was also a GDR special coach to Schonefeld that left quite regularly from Zoo station, in West Berlin and which I suspect did not need visas, I photographed it a couple of times, which drove directly to the airport, air tickets seemed checked on boarding and doubtless were all checked again at the border. Whenever I went to East Berlin I found it mostly normal, not a third-world experience at all as invented by writers who never went there. I always spent my compulsory-converted DM 25 per day and then some, principally in pleasant restaurants and bars, where most were locals. They were quite used to Allied visitors with halting O-level German.

At the wall collapse moment there were all sorts of impromptu arrangements, plenty of film of Trabants (not the only GDR cars, there were Wartburgs and even Skodas) being driven over, the U-Bahn in West Berlin took much of the load and was overwhelmed at times. Announced that those with GDR passports did not need to have tickets but in practice it was totally free access and no tickets were being checked at all. Absence of maps was an issue apparently for a couple of days until the East Berlin main daily newspapers actually printed them in their morning editions. All the ticket checking and information staff were on crowd control, and I read the information booths, equally under pressure, were manned by the railway enthusiast groups.

Pre-reunification the non-Allied Western flights to Schonefeld were low frequency, just a few times a week, for example Finnair to Helsinki was just a DC9 twice a week, one via Warsaw; KLM was the same frequency on a small F28 to Amsterdam. Aside from the Eastern Bloc there were a few third world operators as well. Just in passing, the last Caravelle I ever saw airborne was by chance some months after reunification, a Syrian Arab Airlines one operating Copenhagen-Berlin-Athens-Damascus once a week, descending into Schonefeld one Saturday afternoon. Non-Allied operators were not allowed to use the corridors, and nobody could cross the GDR/West German border separately, so had to route up over the Baltic or down over Czechoslovakia, for example a bizarre Tarom One-Eleven operated weekly Bucharest-Berlin-Luxembourg-Lisbon.

Yes, I have my quite chunky piece(s) of Berlin Wall as well, picked from the rubble where it had been broken through.

Last edited by WHBM; 15th Dec 2020 at 00:22.
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Old 15th Dec 2020, 08:43
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LOT was permitted to use the center corridor.
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Old 15th Dec 2020, 09:02
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Originally Posted by Less Hair View Post
LOT was permitted to use the center corridor.
I believe that by 1989 LOT had long given this up and from Schonefeld were only serving Warsaw, their occasional westbound services stopping at Berlin not surviving into the Solidarity era.
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Old 15th Dec 2020, 09:12
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Occasionally the even landed at Tempelhof.

https://www.porta-polonica.de/en/atl.../lot-tempelhof
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Old 15th Dec 2020, 09:16
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WHBM. Great reading your story. Interfug was not a member of IATA, so started to attract
West Berlin travel agents by offering very low fares to Western destinations in the Med.
The fares had to be paid in Western currencies. The SED set up a shuttle bus in 1980
from Central West Berlin to SXF via the Waltersdorfer Chaussee border crossing. The
shuttle bus was allowed to carry West Berliners, West Germans, and Foreign nationals.The fare had to be paid in DMK, bringing more hard currency to the SED.
From 1985 SXF opened a passport control in the transit hall and it was possible to pay
the tkt for the shuttle bus, show your airline tkt, and drive directly to SXF Transit hall
without having to stop at the Walterdorfer chaussee border. The situation with Interflug
offering such cheap flights caused Pan Am financial problems operating from TXL to
the Med. It was said that Pan Am pilots were offering to fly to the Med without being
paid.
I also used a Dan Air Flight LGW/TXL B737. I think it was a regular scheduled charter
through Benz Travel in Kensington. I used DA flights quite often LHR/MAN when they
were competing with BA on the route. I could use a BA tkt endorsed over to DA, if I had
missed my connection at LHR with BA. On one late night LHR/MAN DA flt. There was
no pilot announcement, and after take off the girls started with the complimentary drinks
trolley. after a few minutes all the cabin lights went out. The stewardess went into the
cockpit, and the lights came on again. As they got to me, behind the wing, lights out
again. The stewardess said in a low voice "Bloody Flight crew" I asked what was going
on, was there a technical problem ? She replied, "No, the captain keeps hitting the cabin
lights switch in the cockpit, The problem is the Captain and F/O are Romanian, and have
very little English. On a flt LHR/MAN last week we were making our descent into MAN
when the captain realised he was descending into Liverpool". " "It's a mess" she said.
The aircraft was a ROMBAC 1-11 leased with flight deck crew.
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Old 15th Dec 2020, 10:00
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Re. Interflug. I heard from my East German friends that they had good service.
Friend Mario would use them SXF/BUD often. On his last flight, it was a different
type of service. He had been caught trying to escape from the Hungarian border
into Yugoslavia, shot at, and arrested, His interrogation was a prison near the
Hilton hotel in Budapest for 10 days before being flown back to SXF with two
other chaps who had been caught trying to escape on a train. This flight was
not the regular IF TU134, but Erich Honecker's personal aircraft. Honecker had
started with an !L14, then a IL18, TU134, and IL62. and eventually an A310.
The a/c flew in Interflug markings. When Honecker was on board, he had his
"Butler", Lothar Herzog wear an Interflug uniform. Herr Herzog was tall, good
looking, and armed with a pistol. He flew with Honecker to 30 countries, and
finally was fired by Honecker as he could get on with Honecker's dog at the
Honecker house in the Waldlitz ghetto. Herr Herzog wrote his memoirs in a
book "Honecker privat", which was both funny, and enlightening. I gave my
copy along with the Mario Roellig's dvd "Der Ost Komplex" to German born
Channel 4 Europe editor Matt Frei., as he had expressed an interest in the
subject. I am still waiting for a "Thank you" email or letter from him. now over
two years ago.
I frequently visit the Netherlands, and love to visit Tuege Airport, near Apeldoorn,
where Honecker's personal IL18 DDR-SEY has been converted into a very
luxurious hotel suite. Each Honnie flight would carry a case with several
thousand US$ cash to pay for fuel if required.
Apart from AY, KL,LO, RB, operating from SXF, I think SQ also flew SXF-SIN

Lance Shippey
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