Dirk Schlegel and Falko Götz had been guests for years by the time they determined to possibility the entirety.
They had grown up together, two soccer-obsessed adolescents from the an identical aspect of a divided Berlin. They lived finish to the wall that had outlined their metropolis since it used to be in-built 1961. Their world as youngsters used to be divided into correct and sinister, west and east, capitalist imperialism and communist utopia. They both knew no longer to demonstrate the western TV they secretly watched at dwelling.
Schlegel and Götz rose thru the an identical Dynamo Berlin early life teams. They had been section of a wearing organisation embraced tightly by the Stasi – East Germany’s brutal and invasive secret police. Erich Mielke, the despicable Stasi chief, used to be Dynamo’s honorary president.
The two gamers had something else in long-established. Within the eyes of the pronounce, neither might possibly possibly be fully be depended on.
„We both had complications with the authorities and with Dynamo because our history used to be the an identical,“ Schlegel says.
„He had family in West Germany and I had an aunt in England. That roughly part used to be no longer correct for our future. There used to be suspicion. However it no doubt used to be better for our friendship.“
Götz made his senior debut for Dynamo in 1979, at the age of 17. Schlegel made his two years later, feeble 20.
The two guests broke into their nation’s strongest physique of workers, despite complex years within the early life academy. They declare they had been generally wilfully overpassed, and their fogeys had been educated it wouldn’t be correct politically to search out them rewarded – no longer with their background.
However their talent used to be very no longer probably to ignore. As they developed, both gamers moreover began to appear for East Germany’s national early life teams. As athletes, they had been section of a really resolve out amount of electorate who travelled in a foreign country – continually below finish scrutiny.
The Stasi monitored every part of East German each day lifestyles, gathering intelligence thru a community of informers – and informers who educated on the informers. Some estimates imply it employed one in every 63 folks. The structure used to be subtle, courageous, all-powerful. The explanation used to be to preserve show: to additional the Communist pronounce off. Football moreover played its feature.
Mielke believed Dynamo must changed into doubtlessly the most successful aspect in East Germany. They gained the league a document 10 consecutive times between 1979 and 1988. There had been generally accusations of officers giving them preferential treatment, and – as Schlegel recalls – opposition fans hugely resented their victories.
Whereas playing for East Germany’s Below-21s in Sweden, Götz began to critically clutch into consideration one more.
„As I began to play frequently for Dynamo’s first physique of workers, and internationally too, I began to sign extra about what a occupation in soccer might possibly possibly imply,“ he says.
„I had to then request myself the inquire of: The attach aside attain I need it to clutch me? Compose I want to play the total time in East Germany with a club that does no longer offer one of the best treatment? That from one day to the following might possibly possibly declare, ‚thanks however now thanks to who you can too very neatly be, soccer stops‘?“
Schlegel used to be having an identical thoughts, dropped at a head by the trip of playing in a foreign country in Could also merely 1982 at a early life competition in France.
By the summer season of 1983, the guests had determined. They had to salvage out of East Germany. And that they had a notion. However they would want to be cautious.
You might maybe possibly no longer correct talk wherever, no longer about something delight in this. Schlegel and Götz did relatively about a strolling – correct the 2 of them. They’d streak off for hours within the forest. It used to be one of the best true pronounce.
„We mentioned it,“ says Schlegel. „Could also we attain this huge part? It used to be no longer so easy.
„We had to take into story the Stasi and the relatively about a folks in our club. It used to be a huge secret for me and Falko – no-one else.“
As champions of East Germany, Dynamo would qualify every yr for the European Cup. In as of late, the competition featured a straight knockout format – dwelling and away in every spherical. One of the best Dynamo achieved used to be reaching the quarter-finals in 1980, after they lost to eventual winners Nottingham Forest.
The important notion used to be to verify out to flee wherever the competition might possibly possibly clutch them that season – 1983-84. The design used to be form.
Within the important spherical came Jeunesse Esch – champions of Luxembourg. It used to be an easy tie that can maybe possibly guarantee one other likelihood to flee if the replacement did no longer fresh itself. And that they had a chum who they notion can be ready to attend.
The important leg used to be at dwelling. Götz opened the scoring in a 4-1 victory. The 2nd leg used to be on 28 September 1983.
Their friend had only within the near previous been granted permission to streak to West Germany – there used to be an reliable job by which it used to be complex, however no longer very no longer probably, to legally to migrate – and used to be residing finish to the border with Luxembourg.
They had notion of the likelihood of getting him to fulfill them and lunge them away in his automobile, however the timing used to be off. The friend wouldn’t be ready to attend – he mute hadn’t obtained his beefy identification papers and so couldn’t ride all the contrivance thru the border into Luxembourg from his unusual dwelling in West Germany.
Restful, Götz and Schlegel notion there is known as a probability.
In inner most, Götz educated his father about their intentions. All he said used to be there used to be a possibility he would be leaving for correct – within the future soon. He used to be 21 at the time. Schlegel, then feeble 22, did no longer declare a note to somebody – no longer even his ma and pa.
The match used to be played in Esch-sur-Alzette, graceful on the border with France. Belgium used to be perfect one other 10km to the west and West Germany about half of an hour’s drive to the east. Götz and Schlegel had been in search of anything else they might possibly possibly make doubtlessly the most of. Any 2nd of peaceable or confusion that can also allow them to bound away.
„It correct wasn’t that you might possibly possibly be ready to deem,“ Schlegel says. „We had no replacement at all.
„In every single pronounce we went – to the hotel, to lunch, to coaching, to the stadium – we had been all together, accompanied by relatively about a our ‚guests‘ from the Stasi. We had even flown there in Erich Mielke’s inner most airplane. It wasn’t a protracted-established tourist time out. It used to be merely too terrible for us.“
Dynamo gained 2-0, and the gamers returned to Berlin. Good days after discussing the likelihood of no longer seeing him once more, Götz’s father welcomed his son dwelling.
They’d hold one other likelihood very soon.
Dynamo had been subsequent drawn against Partizan Belgrade – the champions of what used to be then Yugoslavia. This used to be even better.
In Luxembourg security used to be tight, however this might occasionally be relatively about a. Yugoslavia used to be a fellow Communist nation, though no longer within the Eastern Bloc of states officially allied with the Soviet Union, delight in East Germany. Absolutely it might possibly maybe possibly be notion of low possibility?
All once more, Dynamo had been at dwelling within the important leg. All once more, Götz scored the opener – within the important minute. It carried out 2-0 to the East Germans. Stick to it the return fixture – in Belgrade.
At about noon on the day of the match – 2 November 1983 – the physique of workers travelled together by bus into the centre of Yugoslavia’s capital metropolis.
As they pulled up, a member of Dynamo’s workers rose out of his seat and educated the gamers: „You’ve got one hour free time. We meet relieve right here at 13: 00.“
Schlegel and Götz had been sitting on reverse facets of the bus.
„We did no longer talk; we perfect regarded every relatively about a within the eyes,“ says Schlegel. „We realised it used to be the 2nd. And we knew how terrible it used to be going to be.“
As their physique of workers-mates filed off, Schlegel and Götz had mute no longer spoken. They said nothing of the possibility they had been taking, nothing of the gravity of this one pivotal 2nd in a lifestyles’s course.
„I be conscious we had been offended referring to the total moments we would already tried to salvage away however couldn’t,“ Götz says. „On the important day after coaching it used to be too terrible, the an identical part subsequent morning after breakfast. There had been too many folks around.
„However now in these few seconds we had been completely clear on what had to occur. We had the entirety in our pockets. Papers, a minute money. One peek of it used to be enough – this used to be our likelihood. Now or by no manner.“
The clock used to be ticking. The leisure of the Dynamo squad wanted to utilize the hour searching. Götz and Schlegel tagged alongside. Their first conclude used to be a document store nearby.
As the 2 went in, Götz spotted something to the aspect of the building – a a minute hidden entrance and exit, separate to the attach aside that they had strategy in. He and Schlegel gave nothing away.
„We tried to conclude very finish to every relatively about a,“ Götz says. „All the fellows around us had been purchasing for venerable records for his or her families.
„The one particular 2nd used to be after we saw the door. We saw there used to be one contrivance you might possibly possibly be ready to salvage out of the shop without anybody noticing. When the time used to be graceful, that’s after we said: ‚Let’s streak.'“
They gradually peeled a long way from the easier crew. They made sure they weren’t being watched. They moved to the door, then went thru it. And ran.
„As soon as we would made it outdoors, you can too very neatly be no longer no doubt hooked in to anything else,“ Götz says. „We had been perfect hooked in to working. To rapid salvage as a long way-off from our physique of workers as that you might possibly possibly be ready to deem.
„We ran for about five minutes in a single course. Then we saw a taxi. We obtained in however then there used to be a alarm because he did no longer want to clutch us to the West German embassy.
„We had to hail a 2nd cab. As we obtained in I gave the motive force 10 Deutschmarks. He must hold pushed us about one kilometre – it doubtlessly would hold been more straightforward to streak by foot.
„We regarded relieve to search out if somebody had adopted us. We couldn’t detect anybody.“
Half an hour earlier, that they had been sitting with their physique of workers-mates. Now they had been inner the West German embassy, speaking to workers about what they must attain subsequent.
„We had been extremely nervous,“ says Schlegel. „It used to be correct very unheard of what we would accomplished. Without discover we had been discussing a notion to salvage us out of Yugoslavia and into West Germany. We had been rising with a time table for our lives.“
The notion began to clutch shape. First they would be pushed to Zagreb, about four hours away. The embassy workers notion it perfect to salvage them out of the building – and out of Belgrade – as rapid as that you might possibly possibly be ready to deem. The embassy stands out as the important pronounce the authorities would strategy looking.
As their automobile emerged from the underground automobile park, the gamers had been sitting within the relieve seats.
„On the manner, the deepest thinking used to be perfect about surviving this pickle,“ says Götz.
„You might maybe possibly additionally very neatly be terrorized something might possibly possibly occur since you made the first step in a huge memoir. That’s why one of the best emotion is correct to stay thru it. That you just are going to be ready to realize it, it is important to realize it. Attributable to in something delight in this, when the stop is no longer correct you can too hold relatively about a wretchedness. A amount of wretchedness.“
In Zagreb, the notion used to be finalised. On the West German consulate there, Götz and Schlegel got spurious papers – two unusual West German identities to attend salvage them out of Yugoslavia.
Workers educated them that utilizing out, all the contrivance thru the Yugoslav border with Austria, would generally pronounce off no disorders. However things had been a minute relatively about a that week, they said, and it wasn’t completely true. The pair by no manner obtained a beefy explanation however it no doubt used to be determined it might possibly maybe possibly be perfect to streak by snarl. They had been to claim that they had been on holiday, had lost their passports and had to salvage unusual ones, and had been on their manner ‚dwelling‘ to Munich.
The advice used to be to ride on the evening snarl from Ljubljana. It might maybe possibly leave within the ineffective of evening, and they must reach as finish to departure as that you might possibly possibly be ready to deem. It used to be now about 6pm – that they had been on the bustle for six hours.
They got some meals. The workers regarded relaxed – this had been accomplished earlier than, and they had been mild and assured of the notion’s success. To about a extent, this succeeded in soothing the pair’s worries. However mute, the extent of anguish they faced used to be laborious to ignore.
Again in Berlin, Götz’s father tuned in to belief Partizan v Dynamo. The broadcast began at 7pm. Kick-off used to be 8pm. His son wasn’t within the starting XI. Queer – he used to be one amongst their perfect gamers. Schlegel used to be lacking too, and neither had been even on the bench. No explanation used to be given, however he knew. It must hold took pronounce. Had they been successful? Or had they been caught?
There used to be one closing hurdle to clear.
Schlegel and Götz had been pushed to Ljubljana. They arrived at the pronounce correct earlier than their snarl used to be pronounce to depart, tickets in hand, the owners of up-to-the-minute identities. Schlegel’s title used to be Norman Meier. Götz can no longer get who he used to be supposed to be.
The snarl pronounce off. There had been about 30 kilometres to quilt earlier than it would arrive at the border and Yugoslav customs.
Then the snarl halted.
Within the half of gentle, sitting up in their sleeping compartment, the pair might possibly possibly hear the taps on doors.
They’d maybe possibly hear the upcoming sound of heavy boots, the guard dogs panting and the jangle of their chains.
„We had been both so extremely nervous however the policeman checked out our documents and said ‚OK, gorgeous‘ and left. It used to be maybe 20 seconds,“ Götz says.
„It used to be so easy. It used to be nothing.
„For the total day, we had existed in this pronounce of excessive tension, the attach aside in your thoughts you can too very neatly be continually apprehensive.
„We did no longer know what we had started. We did no longer know what roughly risks lets face. However after we obtained previous the Austrian aspect and the snarl hadn’t been stopped to salvage the 2 footballers off, we knew we had been true.
„I deem we arrived in Munich at about 6am. I will no longer think it lately, however we even slept a pair of hours.“
Within the newspaper stands all the contrivance thru the pronounce that morning, their names had been already within the click. The headlines read: ‚East German gamers salvage away to West.‘
However the memoir wasn’t relatively over. There would be consequences.
The West German diplomatic workers who organized their spurious papers had given Schlegel and Götz instructions on what to realize. They had been to ride to Giessen, the attach aside there used to be a facility that processed refugees.
They arrived leisurely within the afternoon. It used to be about 7pm by the time both might possibly possibly construct a cellular phone name dwelling. Schlegel rang his mum.
„She used to be a minute bit apprehensive,“ he says.
„It used to be a huge shock. She knew nothing of our plans however she had heard about our salvage a long way from reports on West German TV. I said it used to be all OK, that I was true and that used to be it. We knew the Stasi would be listening.“
Götz moreover rang dwelling.
„My fogeys straight gave me note to claim they had been no longer alone,“ he says.
„It used to be: ‚OK gorgeous, you can too very neatly be OK, correct, we talk later.‘ Attributable to when something delight in this occurs, the authorities are in response mode.“
Each gamers realised they would want to be very cautious.
„When a participant from Dynamo Berlin leaves the club, he’s no longer a correct boy,“ Schlegel says.
„Falko and I had determined that in all interviews we must no longer talk at all about politics, no longer about any criticisms of the East, to perfect talk about soccer. It don’t hold been true – for us or our families.
„We knew that the Stasi moreover hold relatively about a folks within the West too. That there hold been folks looking at us. Spies.“
Götz and Schlegel known as upon Jorg Berger, a extinct East Germany early life coach who had fled to the west in 1979.
Berger helped address contact with prospective unusual clubs. They selected to signal for Bayer Leverkusen, however would must wait a yr to construct their debuts – Dynamo Berlin wouldn’t acknowledge the streak. Fifa’s 12-month playing ban used to be viewed as a compromise to tender over their illegal switch.
On the time, Berger used to be manager of KSV Hessen Kassel, then within the West German 2nd tier. Earlier than he died in 2010 at the age of 65 after tormented by most cancers, he wrote an autobiography whereby he claimed he used to be centered for assassination within the 1980s, that he used to be poisoned by a Stasi agent.
Berger moreover spoke several times about Lutz Eigendorf, a extinct Dynamo participant who defected to the west on the manner relieve from a match in Kaiserslautern in 1979. He had been especially vocal in his criticisms of East Germany after defection.
In March 1983, eight months earlier than Schlegel and Götz arrived secretly in Munich, Eigendorf died in a automobile atomize. Berger believed the accident confirmed the indicators of a Stasi operation – the attach aside the motive force of a automobile would be blinded by a sparkling gentle while utilizing at excessive velocity. Checks confirmed alcohol in Eigendorf’s blood, however his guests said he had no longer been ingesting earlier than entering into his automobile.
Götz and Schlegel had made it to the Bundesliga. They professional with Leverkusen, they settled into their unusual surroundings, however their worn lives had been by no manner a long way at the relieve of. They had been being watched very carefully.
„That’s why the Stasi used to be so neatly-known – for what they did,“ says Götz.
„They watched us in Leverkusen, and they adopted my fogeys all day lengthy. No longer in secret, they wanted them to search out. There had been interviews, interrogations, pressure. When I was ready to salvage admission to my files at the Stasi archives, after they had been made available after German reunification, I realized things that I’d now reasonably no longer talk about.
„However for me at that time, it used to be important no longer to claim that the entirety in East Germany is sinister, that communists are sinister, no longer perfect because I knew what the response to this might occasionally be however moreover since it wasn’t.
„My time in Dynamo made a really correct participant of me. I had 12 years at the club. They helped me begin a talented occupation. Our motivation used to be no longer politics.“
As the Chilly Battle thawed towards the stop of the 1980s, both gamers had been ready to preserve up extra routine contact with their families, while moreover contributing on the pitch after their suspensions expired. That they would seem every Saturday evening on the Bundesliga highlights programmes – mute watched secretly in so many East Berlin homes – used to be a source of enormous pleasure for his or her fogeys.
Götz stayed at Leverkusen unless 1988. After successful the Uefa Cup, he left to enroll in Cologne.
Schlegel left Leverkusen in 1985 and had a season with Stuttgart earlier than signing for Blau-Weiss Berlin in 1986. He now lived on the west aspect of the metropolis the attach aside he used to be born. However for sure, he might possibly possibly by no manner harmful to the relatively about a aspect.
He perfect managed to search out his ma and pa once more in 1987, in Czechoslovakia. For Götz it used to be the summer season of 1988, in Hungary.
Then came 9 November 1989.
Schlegel used to be in a hotel alongside with his physique of workers-mates when he heard the news. He’d correct obtained relieve from coaching when somebody shouted over from the bar: „Whats up Dirk, the wall has strategy down.“
He notion it used to be a joke – for as a minimum five minutes he wouldn’t think it, even after he’d viewed the TV photos, the thousands of smiling East Germans strolling thru checkpoints, previous the barbed wire, previous the spotlights, previous the stupefied border officers. What now precisely?
„I said: ‚Oh strategy on! The wall came down and I was no longer in Berlin!‘ We might possibly possibly infrequently hold been additional away in Germany too – we had been playing an away match against Schalke,“ says Schlegel.
„That used to be correct a crazy trip for me; it used to be unthinkable. Staring at it, I notion maybe it is a drama or a movie. It used to be something amazing.
„On the weekend, I came relieve from the game at Schalke and my family sooner or later came around to visit me with two guests. We had dinner at dwelling, speaking, ingesting.“
It wasn’t unless December that Götz returned to the East aspect of Berlin for the important time since he and Schlegel had left with their Dynamo physique of workers-mates in 1983. He went relieve dwelling – „nothing had modified, it used to be precisely the an identical“ – and frolicked alongside with his family all thru that season’s frigid weather destroy. His mother might possibly possibly sooner or later streak on the few property she had been ready to mask and preserve true for him.
Thirty years on, Schlegel, 58, and Götz, 57 are mute finish guests.
They revel in looking relieve on their gallant feat and focus on frequently – generally by cellular phone as Götz mute lives on the relatively about a aspect of the nation.
„My son is awfully proud,“ says Schlegel as we talk at a restaurant come his west Berlin dwelling.
Now he has to streak. He and Götz are employed as scouts; work is calling.
I fabricate no longer even must request the closing inquire of.
„I really hold been asked on many cases,“ Schlegel says. „Would I attain it once more?
„Absolutely. Without inquire of. Every time. I did it for my lifestyles. It used to be about establishing my future, shaping my lifestyles, picking my bear course.“