From 1961 until 1970 I was an escape helper. My friends and I brought around 650 Citizens of the GDR into the West – mainly by using forged passports, but also by hiding escapees in especially altered cars. One French and one American soldier also helped, hereby risking their careers. As a "secondary occupation" I studied medicine at the FU, the Free University in West-Berlin. After the State Medical Board examination in Berlin I worked there as a physician until moving to Hanover with my wife and first child in 1969. She had lived in fear of being abducted (there had already been two attempts by the Stasi, the State Police of East Germany, to seize me, from which I managed to escape).
The reason I risked my freedom and indeed my very life in order to help our countrymen – although as a native of southern Germany, I had no ties to the GDR – was probably due to the fact I had left home at a very young age and placed a high value on freedom. Therefore – after my career in Stuttgart as a dedicated orthopedic surgeon in a private practice and working in EDP, writing software for doctors, after being an ardent hobby-musician (violin and viola), husband and father of three children, after being divorced - I now dedicate my retirement to my main interest – freedom! I moved back to Berlin in 2007, in order to write about escape and escape aid, the "Stasi" and their snitches.
I'd like to illuminate past events in West-Berlin, the GDR and East-Berlin as long as witnesses of this era are still alive and can talk about it. I'd like to describe how the citizens of the East and the West reacted to the building of the Berlin Wall and their search for ways into freedom. I'd like to relate what motivated us then, before those events are to be forgotten. It is my wish to recount the idealism and commitment of numerous people in both the East and the West and the courage of so many escapees. Especially those who planned their escapes without escape aid chose such a dangerous path, that took over 135 people's lives only in Berlin. I also want to explain the differences between the political systems, which were at odds with one another in Berlin, as well as the injustice of the SED (Social Democratic Unity party) dictatorship and the Stasi.
To that end I have conducted about 100 interviews with escapees, escape helpers and Stasi snitches. I have studied the history of both German States after the separation of Germany in 1945 in great depth. This has lead to a diverse picture. Therefore, my book, "Wege durch die Mauer – Fluchthilfe und Stasi zwischen Ost und West" ("Ways through the Wall – Aided Escape and Stasi between East and West") is of quite substantial volume, but I have found a publishing company, which has given me extensive help. My friends, especially many fellow escape helpers as well as many escapees, have also contributed actively to this book.
Before that, in the summer of 2010, I edited a book by and about Uwe Johnson; "Ich wollte keine Fragen ausgelassen haben" ("I didn't want to leave any questions unanswered") for the Suhrkamp Publishing House. In the spring of 1962 we helped the woman, who later became his wife, escape into the West. In connections with this we had audio recordings, which had been unreleased up until 2010.
My book on the history of escape and escape aid was first published in 2011. The book contains information on escape aid in general as well as my personal experiences in all details. It also recounts comprehensive material on Stasi snitches, their actions taken against us and last but not least reassesses the GDR dictatorship. I hope it finds many readers who are interested in dealing with this topic!
The website fluchthilfe.de is intended to fulfill an important function. I am still in contact with many former colleagues; but I have lost sight of just as many, particularly of numerous escapees, whom we brought over and whose further walks of life we have not followed. I would be very pleased if many people concerned or interested would contact me. My E-Mail address: email@example.com
- For example: Marlis Krüger from the Studentendorf, House 23/203, who helped me both psychologically as well as in deed, or
- Heinke Bosch from Laasphe, or
- Horst T., born on November 24th, 1936, whose escape documents I still have, or
- Manfred Röhl, who was supposedly wounded at the border on April 10th, 1962, or
- escapees, who came into the West through the sewage canals under Gleimstraße or Esplanade, or
- escapees, who were arrested in the early 1962 and in the fall of 1963 during the tours through Scandinavia (these arrests were facilitated by a snitch. I have documentation about him, but it does not list the names of the victims), or
- all escapees, who presently no longer have contact with their escape helpers. These probably comprise about 95%.
No one needs to fear Stasi-activities or other forms of investigation. As you can see in my book, I only publish the names of those who wish to be named. No one will be exposed or put on display here!
I would be very pleased if we could work together to record a piece of German history, which should not be forgotten, just as the resistance movement during the "Third Reich" or the beginning of the re-unification as led by the chanted choruses of "Wir sind das Volk!" ("We are the people!"). I look forward to hearing from you – and I am eager for your help!
Yours truly, Burkhart Veigel (alias "Schwarzer" ["Blacky"]).