We all managed to get out of the basket with our own strength so it was obvious that nothing had happened to us. Well… we were actually very lucky.
Now we had our next problem. We did not know if we had been successful in escaping and whether we really were in the West. We therefore decided to move in a southerly direction; if we had succeeded then we would be moving even further away from the border and if we hadn’t we would be heading straight into the open arms of the East German border guards. This did not matter to us anymore as they had seen us in the air and would have caught us anyway. I must admit that we were absolutely exhausted after the landing and due to the uncertainty as to whether we had succeeded this was our lowest point.
The full moon that night allowed me to notice that we had passed over several small fields. That would have been unusual for East Germany because much larger fields were the norm there. With that came the hope that we could indeed have succeeded. We then came to an electrical pylon and read a sign that was fixed to it. It said something about Überlandwerk which we had also never seen in East Germany. After moving on a little further we reached a farm. The women and children hid themselves in the bushes whilst Peter and I went on. In the barn we saw a piece of farm machinery and because of its type it was now clear that we had indeed escaped successfully.
As we left the barn a car suddenly appeared and approached slowly. We walked onto the road in front of the car in order to make ourselves visible and it stopped. Two policemen got out, two West German policemen and it became clear again that we really had done it.
One of us asked “Are we in the West?” but this question was redundant because that was already obvious. The policemen answered astonished “Of course you are, where else would you be then?”. No one could scarcely imagine that East Germans would just appear out of nowhere in the middle of the night 10km away from the border.
After this greeting we let off a firework that we had brought with us to signal to our wives that all was well. They came to us straight away with the children and the joy was extreme!
We had done it! We had made it to the West!
In the following chapter I will explain how we fared after our escape.
† - known as the “trunk” in Canada and the United States of America