A Level German students went to see the film ‘Balloon’, by German director Michael Bully Herbig, in Haslemere Hall.
This film tells the true story of the Strelzyks and the Wetzels, who built their balloon in a cellar in Thuringia, a state in the German Democratic Republic, before flying across the border into Bavaria one chilly night in September 1979.
It took Wetzel and Strelzyk about 18 months, sewing together 1,000 square metres of cloth and listening closely to weather reports from West German radio to gauge the right time to carry out their plan – which required a strong northerly wind. It was the first ever escape of its kind and one of the most spectacular ones.
From 1961 to 1988, 75,000 East Germans were jailed for trying to escape to the west, while more than 800 men, women and children lost their lives at the border and were branded traitors by the GDR regime. Anyone trying to cross was met with barbed wire, landmines and spring-guns rigged to shoot if stumbled on.
We had a very exciting two hours and watched a great film in German!
(Amelie Forbes L6)