On This Day in History: The East German Balloon Escape


Welcome to this day in history class where history waits for or no one today is September Sixteenth Twenty nineteen the day it was September Sixteenth nineteen seventy nine eight people escaped communist East Germany by floating over border fences to West Germany and a homemade hot air balloon. The German Federal Republic better known known as West Germany was created in nineteen forty nine when zones controlled by America Britain and France merged the Soviets then created East Germany also known as the German Democratic Republic from their zone of occupation though Berlin the former German capital well was situated within the Soviet zone. The city was divided into West Berlin and East Berlin East Germany built the Berlin Wall in nineteen sixty one to cut off the allied occupied West Berlin from East Berlin and surrounding East Germany. Many people attempted to escape East Germany see for West Germany motivated by troublesome political events in East Germany and better living conditions in West Germany but east Germany punished and demeaned and people who tried to flee the state the border was hundreds of miles long and made of metal fences with barbed wire watched by east German soldiers in watchtowers towers with searchlights sirens fleeing was punishable with fines and imprisonment and many people who tried to make it over the border were killed by landmines in cards still refugees attempted to flee using Abor Riecke tactics mechanic Peter. Sto Vic and his friend Rick Layer Guenter missile were eager to leave oppressive East Germany so they got the idea to escape with their families a hot air balloon after watching television show on the history of ballooning they studied how to make a balloon and realized that to carry eight passengers plus the weight of equipment and materials they would need beat a balloon that could hold ninety nine thousand cubic feet of air they bought rolls of material and bedsheets from shops around. East Germany and their wives stitch spend together to make the balloon the burner was made out of propane bottles and a stove pipe. The cast iron platform had posted on the corners for hand holes in rows anchors and the guardrail. What's a clothesline the whole time they were building the balloon. They were still going to work in their first. A few tests of their balloon were unsuccessful and they experimented with different materials to improve the balloons construction on the night of July third one thousand nine hundred ninety nine the cells family went to a meadow about twenty five miles from the border and attempted to make the trip to West Germany. The vessels cels had backed out afraid. The plan was too risky. Unfortunately the balloon dropped to the ground due to water vapor that added weight to the balloon in in the family did not make it across the border. They abandoned the balloon and wet back home fearing the East German authorities would be on their trails Thune soon. The Celtics decided to build a new larger balloon on September Sixteenth Nineteen seventy-nine. Both families went to the launch site. I took a twenty eight minute hot air balloon trip across the border into West Germany people who lived in Iowa the Bavarian town near where the hot air balloon landed offered the family's food money clothes housing and jobs the Celtics later moved to Switzerland then back to Germany after German Senate reunification in one thousand nine hundred ninety. The story of the balloon escape has been told in a book and movies. I'm eavesdrop coat and hopefully a you know a little more about history today than you did yesterday.

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