Markus Rindt

* 1967  

  • That moment, when the soldiers closed up the street and then when they moved aside to let us through. Reading the faces of those soldiers, it seemed they were willing to let us go. They didn’t look that terrible, as if they were suggesting: “Come on then!” I can still recall what it looked like, what it felt like. Maybe they were only symbolically blocking the street and didn’t really want to do it. They let us come through and this act that had its part in weakening the whole Socialist system, the whole Eastern bloc. Of course you can still hear the voices of those who stayed in Dresden or the GDR as a whole: “We fought, we were out in the streets, we did the peaceful revolution while those others ran away, bent over, escaped to the embassy.” But if you look at it closely, this event had something to do with it as well. Of course the fact that so many people protested was crucial and there were hundreds of thousands, obviously. But those others who ran away, also increased the pressure on the Party leadership, because something had to change. Because so many people wanting to leave was a clear signal.

  • I was sitting in the classroom and my class teacher said (I could’ve been about eight or nine, that was back in Magdeburg): “Tell me children, did you also see the broadcast yesterday? Where they actually said, on the Western television, that here in the GDR, in our beautiful country, we’re prisoners? Look outside! Are you in prison? Just look out the window!” And of course as a class we responded: “No, what a nerve! Of course we’re not in prison! What? They’re saying that are they?” And that shows you the propaganda at work, it was pretty easy to say: “Of course you’re free, you can run outside, of course you’re not in prison.” That was in primary school, later things were a little more subtle, for instance there were discussions about Communism during civics class, one time I asked the teacher: “Could you please explain, if we have Socialism now, when are we going to have Communism? When will Communism start? And how long will it last?” And she said: “Well, about a thousand years?” That seemed like an odd thing to say. They were basically telling us that when we were much better off in the East, much better off, when full Communism had been implemented and everyone was doing well, and everyone had the same, and we were better off than people in the West, then we’d open the borders, then we would be able to leave and then people would come here from the West. No one would leave because we would be better off here! They basically said we’d have to have a little patience. But a thousand years? Now that is perhaps a bit too long to wait.

  • Tržiště, that street running up the hill. That was completely blocked off, from the left to the right there was a line of armed soldiers. It was frightening, it was obvious they didn’t want us to come through. But from the other side were crowds of people, they spread out everywhere. There were tram tracks between us and that street. More and more people kept coming in, filling up the space. We stood there for quite a while and nobody had the courage to do anything else, carry on. We didn’t know if they would start firing or what would happen. Suddenly one father with his wife and two children started out directly towards the soldiers. We all held our breath and watched to see what would happen. And then the soldiers moved a bit to allow them to get through. At that moment, as if you’d fired a starting gun, everyone started moving. The soldiers just spread out, broke up their cordon and we all came through and up the street, let the crowd carry us and thought we would finally be allowed to the embassy. But there was a huge crowd of people in front of the embassy.

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 12.08.2019

    (audio)
    duration: 02:10:59
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

Everyone who escaped the GDR helped to change the regime

Markus Rindt with instrument
Markus Rindt with instrument
photo: pamětník

Markus Rindt was born in 1967 in Magdeburg in the German Democratic Republic, to a family of classical musicians – his mother Brigitte Ebel was a vocalist, his father Heinz Rindt a violinist. His father was from Czech Krkonoše region, as a two-year-old child he was expelled into what was at the time the Soviet Occupation Zone of Germany. After expulsion Markus’ grandparents were settled in the area of the German–German border. Marcus was allowed to visit them only with special permission requested a long time in advance. Since then, Markus couldn’t get the idea of tearing down the Iron Curtain or crossing the border out of his head. Markus’ decision to emigrate was also influenced to a degree by his relationship with his girlfriend who was forbidden from studying and rejected offers to cooperate with the Stasi. On 3 September 1989 they were among the last to cross the CSSR–GDR border before it was closed down. They travelled all the way to the West German embassy in Prague, spent the night on a town square and on 4 September they and other thousands of refugees were allowed to travel to the West. There he continued his studies and played in the Cologne Orchestra. In 1989, together with his West-German wife, he moved to East-German Brandenburg and established the Dresdner Sinfoniker Orchestra, which he leads to this day. He is active in political projects, especially those concerning mental and physical borders and curtains, for instance the Tear Down the Wall happening at the United States–Mexican Border.