Lothar Szielasko

* 1935  

  • “Well, then I went back to the broadcast, to Werk II Köpenick, where I met the other apprentices who told me that we had been sent home. Back then, I was still a courageous young man and I volunteered to accompany a girl, who was a fellow apprentice, on her way home, because she lived in West Berlin. She lived actually rather on the outskirts of the city and to get there, you had to take the S-Bahn through West Berlin. So for the first part of the journey, we went with the S-Bahn but then, the traffic got jammed and we had to get off. All of a sudden, we landed amidst a demonstration! It was a demonstration of the industrial workers. I remember that there was a frontier checkpoint to West Berlin that had been set on fire and some comrade was trying to talk to the workers from a car. But the workers pushed his car backwards into West Berlin. I think that the police took him into protective custody. Anyway, nothing happened to him. After some time, trucks and tanks started arriving there with Russian soldiers. They were coming from the other side, across from where we stood. They started driving the crowd of workers in front of them holding their Kalaschnikov MGs in their arms. They were coming in my direction and as they were passing us, me and that girl, one of the Russians turned to me. He stood in front of me with his gun and I – being a young and foolishly brave man – pushed that girl behind my back and gave him a cheeky look. He looked around and saw that the others kept running. So he took his gun and followed them. I must have had impressed him.”

  • “The father of his girlfriend had gone missing and when I met with Hans, he said to me: ‘I’ll run away as well’. Well, then we spent the rest of the night – it was already in the evening – bringing his books to my apartment. He lived only about two kilometers away from me. We would rip out his stamps, his pages and stamp them with my name. And the next morning we called the deputy director – as the first director was not available – a certain Mr. Wolf. So we called him and said: ‘look, the girlfriend of my friend, our friend, ran away but we believe that we can convince her to come back home’. So we got a leave and went to Berlin, the two of us. And yes, as soon as we were on the other side of the border, in West Berlin, he officially announced to me that he’d stay there. He told me that he’d also make a run, just like her. So what now? I was of course afraid of the possible consequences his escape would have for me. So I went to the Alexanderplatz, or just Alex as it was called. I knew that the headquarters of the police and probably also of the Stasi were located at the Alex. So I knocked on the door of the police station and said: ‘the girlfriend of my friend had taken to her heels and he now wants to stay here as well, what am I supposed to do now?’ They told me to go back to my school and that they’d take care of everything. When I got back there I had the great advantage that everything had already been officially taken care of in the meantime. They had informed the school about what had happened and it had already been clarified. I wasn’t interrogated by anyone and no one would ask any questions. The Berlin police had already told them that one guy had ran away but that the other was kind and is coming back.”

  • “The man wanted to talk with us but the woman closed the window in his face and said: ‘we’re not talking to Germans’. Another man told us that at the end of the village, there was a woman who spoke German. He said that she was of German descent. We then sought her out and received a very warm welcome. She truly treated us in a very friendly way. Then she accompanied us and showed us the way to the farm which we had been unable to find on our own. She then explained in Polish to the people who lived there who we were and what we wanted. The first question they asked was: ‘Have we preserved the farm well?’”

  • Full recordings
  • 4

    Mainz, 12.07.2013

    duration: 01:23:09
    media recorded in project Iron Curtain Stories
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

Goodbye my friends, you’ll never see me again!

Foto Szielasko alt.jpg (historic)
Lothar Szielasko
photo: Claudia Kujawski

Lothar Szielasko was born on September 10, 1935. He spent the first years of his life in what was then East Prussia. His paternal grandparents owned a farm there which the family left in the beginning of 1945. Fearing the invasion of the Russian troops, the family decides to flee to safety in the West. Lothar Szielasko, his mother and his sister made a journey all the way to Berlin, where Lothar first completed his elementary school education and then began an apprenticeship in the Funkwerk Köpenick in the Soviet sector of the city. Upon the completion of his apprenticeship, he studied at an Engineering School in Mittweida in Saxony. In the course of his studies he helped one of his fellow students to flee to the West. These and other experiences related to the phenomenon of the inner German border shaped the period of his studies.   After graduating, he stayed and lived in Berlin and helped another friend to leave to East Germany by train. In the early 1960s, Lothar Szielasko himself decides to flee to the West and is shortly afterwards joined in West Germany by his mother and sister. At first, he worked at a company in Cologne but later left in favor of a job at the television company Fernseh GmbH in Darmstadt. His professional career later led him to Mainz, where he got a job at the German broadcaster Zweiter Deutscher Rundfunk and settled down with his own family. Today, Lothar Szielasko often visits the home of his childhood, now located in Poland, and the farm of his grandparents.