Escape from Berlin…
There have been many remarkable stories to emerge from the Cold War years, many are tragic, some uplifting and a good percentage which border on the unbelievable. Despite the relatively short passage of time since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Eastern Bloc it seems incredible what political leaders and intelligence operatives considered acceptable practice. Many of the laws imposed by the Warsaw Pact leaders defy both logic and belief and whilst one should never forget the human suffering on both sides, it is truly a fascinating period to study.
No sooner had the wall gone up than those affected began plotting to escape from behind it or smuggle their way in. It is difficult to imagine the devastation of being cut off from family, friends and places of work and leisure simply because you lived a matter of yards away from a line drawn on a political map.
In the wonderful book, The Berlin Wall Story written by Hans-Hermann Hertle the true story of the Trojan Cow is as remarkable as it is ingenious. In 1969, an eighteen year old girl called Angelika, engaged to a West Berliner decides to escape from her home in Karl Marx Stadt and join him in the West at a cost of ten thousand Deutsche Marks. There were always men available to help anyone wishing to escape and the work, whilst dangerous could also be highly lucrative. Two such men had the idea of building a life-size bull used as a display but built with a difference. The insides were hollowed out and had been used twice previously to house escapees successfully across the border.
Sadly for this young girl however, the border police who had been tipped off, according to Angelika, discovered the trick and the three were arrested and imprisoned. The two men were jailed for three years and the girl, given a two year sentence, was released to the West Germans when they agreed to pay a ransom. What became of the three I do not know, but the two men showed remarkable courage and creativity in their attempts to dupe one of the most hated regimes in modern times.