When the government where you live is doing all it can to make your life miserable, what would you do? How would you react if you were stuck in a cold-hearted communist country? Do you think you would have the will and courage to do whatever it takes to escape or would you just give in? This is a remarkable story of two Germans who were so desperate to get out. Their means of escaping is something you would have never expected!

Behind The Iron Curtain

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This story is all about Günter Wetzel and Peter Strelzyk. These two were co-workers and companions at a plastics factory. They lived in a tiny town called Poessneck. They were unfortunate to be living their life under the totalitarian rule of Communist East Germany. They did not have a sense of liberty and were faced with a lot of obstacles. All of their daily activities were monitored by their government.

Planning An Escape

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They were thoroughly restricted from having any kind of contact with the outside world. The Stasi, the feared secret police, was constantly on surveillance. There also one very dangerous catch. Even your neighbor could be an intelligence agent so you had to keep a distance. Since their lives were too confined, it came to a point where they could not bear it anymore. They were ready to plan their escape.

A Tale Of Two Germanys

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Wetzel and Strelzyk both had wives and they also had two kids of their own. The two of them desperately wanted to get both their families out of the terrorizing East German government. They knew leaving would result in a better life altogether. If they stayed in the east, they would be stuck in the repressive Communist countries so they knew they needed to go westwards.

A Crazy Plan

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There was a lot of things the families would have to do. There was a need to cross the fortified border to attain their freedom in West Germany without the police knowing. The two clever men, Wetzel and Strelzyk were in talks to get themselves a helicopter, even though they knew they would not be able to get a good enough engine. There was an even crazier idea that came to them.

Crazy Genius

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As they went ahead with their plan to escape the country, Wetzel and Strelzyk were by chance struck with a brilliant but crazy idea. The two of them were desperately looking for an easy escape and an idea hit them. They came upon a forbidden magazine from the West which was sent to them by a relative. In it, the International Balloon Festival in New Mexico was featured and thus an idea was born.

Cross With A Balloon?

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When they saw the amazing photographs of the hot-air balloons, it greatly excited them. It was because it gave them a good idea and not because they were beautiful. They were contemplating upon using a hot-air balloon to hopefully get across into West Germany. Since this idea had never been tried out before, they were at a high risk of it failing.