And Suddenly We Were Criminals

The story of an escape from East Germany

In the summer of 1983, a group of people attempted to flee from East Germany: siblings Michael and Dorothea, both musicians from Dresden, as well as Dorothea’s husband and an art student friend of theirs. Telling not even parents or friends, they planned to cross the border between Bulgaria and Yugoslavia on foot during a holiday trip. Their attempt failed. In early 1984, they were sentenced to several years’ imprisonment, but ransomed by the West German state within a year.

What made young people with seemingly good prospects risk a flight from the Republic? And how did it feel when they were caught? How did they cope with being in jail, as “political prisoners” among criminals? A story of a failed flight, and of everyday life in the GDR inside and outside prison walls – as told from the perspectives of the sister and her brother, as well as their mother who remained in Dresden.


dtv Sachbuch
320 pages, ISBN 978-3-423-24799-3
3. Auflage, November 2012