Gunfire in the Woods: A foiled escape and imprisonment in Cold War East Germany
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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. 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. 0:00 Introduction and recap of the previous episode 1:31 Interview with Henrik: Early plans and journey to Czechoslovakia 7:40 Arrest on the border and early imprisonment experiences 17:21 Transfer to Prague and encounter with the East German Stasi 28:23 Arrival at the Secret Service prison in Dresden and coping in prison 46:59 Interrogations and dealing with the Stasi 1:00:18 Family visits, communication in prison, and considering a change of mind 1:13:08 Reflections on the Stasi's approach and trial 54:36 Life in remand prison and public humiliation during transport to Rakowitz work camp 1:00:06 Living conditions, daily life, and experiences in Rakowitz work camp 1:10:54 Announcement of amnesty and release from prison 1:14:00 Post-release observations on the social climate in East Germany 1:23:18 Closing remarks and outro Extra episode information Special thanks to Jonny Whitlam for introducing Henrik to CWC. You can book his excellent Berlin tours here The fight to preserve Cold War history continues and via a simple monthly donation, you will give me the ammunition to continue to preserve Cold War history. You’ll become part of our community, get ad-free episodes, and get a sought-after CWC coaster as a thank you and you’ll bask in the warm glow of knowing you are helping to preserve Cold War history. Just go to If a monthly contribution is not your cup of tea, We also welcome one-off donations via the same link. Find the ideal gift for the Cold War enthusiast in your life! Just go to Follow us on Twitter Facebook Instagram Youtube Love history? Check out Into History at this link Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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