Former Galatasaray Falko Götz and Dirk Schegel: Football players who risk their lives and flee East Berlin

Former Galatasaray Falko Götz and Dirk Schegel: Football players who risk their lives and flee East Berlin

The two football fans were children living on the same side of the divided Berlin. They lived near the wall that had defined their country since it was built in 1961.

Their childhood world was divided between good and evil, west and east, capitalist imperialism and communist utopia. They both knew that they should not talk about the western television they had secretly watched at home.

Schlegel and Götz Dinamo, who also played in Galatasaray for a while, rose together in Berlin's youth team. They were part of a club backed by Stasi, the brutal secret service of East Germany. Erich Mielke Dynamo, the infamous president of Stasi, was also the honorary president of Stasi.

"We both had relatives in West Germany and I had an aunt in England. Such things were not good for your future. There was doubt. But it was good for our friendship."

However, it was impossible to ignore his abilities. As both players improved, the East German youth team began to form. They were among the few East German citizens who were allowed to leave the country, even though they were closely watched because they were athletes.

Stasi was observing every aspect of everyday life in East Germany with a network of informers and informers who reported the informers. According to some estimates, one out of 63 East German citizens was an informant.

Mielke believed that Dynamo should have been the most successful team in East Germany. Between 1979-1988 they have been champions 19 times in a row, breaking a record.

There were accusations that the referees were privileged to Dinamo, and as far as Schlegel recalled, the fans of the opposing teams were very tired of Dinamo's victories.

"Then I had to ask myself the question: Where did I want my career to take me? Do I want to play in an East German club that didn't treat me well? One day a club could say to me" thank you but you will end football because of your identity. "

The first thing that came to mind was that season, in the 1983-84 season, wherever the tournament took them, escaped there. An easy opponent appeared in the first round.

His opponents were the team of Luxembourg champion Jeunesse Esch. If there was no opportunity to escape on this tour, it was an easy match that they could find another chance. And they had a friend they thought could help.

His friends had been given permission to move to West Germany. Legally, there was a very difficult but not impossible official move, and his friends were spreading near the Luxembourg border.

They considered her friends coming and kidnapping them with her car, but the timing was bad. He could not help them, still had not received their identity papers, and therefore could not leave his new home in West Germany and cross the border with Luxembourg.

Götz spoke to his father about his intention to escape secretly. He just said there was a possibility of going soon. He was 21 at the time. Schlegel, 22, did not say anything to anybody, even his mother and father.

Götz and Schlegel set out to look for anything that could be useful for the escape. A confusion that could happen at any moment would give them the opportunity to escape.

"Wherever we went. We were together at the hotel, lunch, training, stadium. We had many 'friends' with us from Stasi. We even went there with Erich Mielke's private plane. It was not an ordinary tourist trip. It was very dangerous."

Dynamo won 2-0 and the players returned to Berlin. Considering the possibility of never seeing her son again a few days ago, his father Götz's father welcomed his son.

Security in Luxembourg was tight, but this time it would be different. Yugoslavia was a friendly communist country, although it was not among the countries of the Eastern Block formally allied with the Soviet Union. It would be considered a definite low-risk place.

Dinamo won the first match in his own home and Götz scored the first goal in the first minute. East Germans won the match 2-0. The second game on the road was in Belgrade.

Götz "I remember we were angry at all those moments we tried to escape and failed. It was very risky in the first day's training. The next morning was the same after breakfast. There were a lot of people around."

"But we were very clear about what should have happened in those few seconds. Everything was in our pocket. Our documents, some money. That was our opportunity. Now or never."

Time was advancing. Other members of the Dinamo team spent an hour shopping. Götz and Schlegel were also with them. The first stop was a nearby record player.

As the two entered, Götz noticed something on the edge of the building. An inconspicuous entrance and exit, different from where they enter. Götz and Schlegel made no difference.

"That particular moment was that we saw the door. We saw that there was a way to get out of the shop without anyone feeling it. We said 'Let's go' when the time came."

"We ran in one direction for about five minutes. Then we saw a taxi. We panicked because the taxi driver didn't want to take us to the West German Embassy."

"We stopped a second taxi. As soon as I got in, I gave the taxi driver 10 Mark. It took us about a kilometer. Maybe it would be easier if we went on foot."

They were sitting with their teammates half an hour ago. Now they were discussing their next steps with the embassy officials at the West German Embassy.

The plan was shaped. They would first go to Zagreb, a four-hour drive away. Embassy officials thought it was best to take the two footballers out of the embassy building and Belgrade as quickly as possible. The embassy would be the first place for officials to come and call.

"You are afraid that something might have happened because you took the first step in a big story. So the first feeling was to survive. Because if something doesn't work well, you're in big trouble. A big trouble."

The plan was put to an end in Zagreb. At the West German Consulate there, Götz and Schlegel were given false documents and two new West German identities to help them get out of Yugoslavia.

The officers said that there was normally no problem on the Yugoslavia-Austria border. But that week things were different and it wasn't completely safe. The two were never made full explanations, but the best was said to be going by train. They were going to say that they were on vacation there, lost their passports, had to buy a new one, and would go "home" to Munich.

They were instructed to go by night train from Ljubljana. The train was taking off at midnight and they should have gone to the station as soon as possible before departure. It was 6 in the evening and had been on the run for six hours.

They had some food. The officers were comfortable, they had done this before, and they were sure that the plan would be successful. This would relieve the worries of a degree duo. However, the level of danger was too great to be ignored.

In Berlin, Götz's father turned on the television to watch the Partizan-Dinamo match. The broadcast would start at 7 am and the match would start at 8 am. Her son was not in the top 11. This was strange because he was one of his best players. Schlegel was not at 11 either and was not even in the double bench. No statement was made, but he knew. She had been. Were they successful? Were they caught?

Schlegel and Götz were taken by car to Ljubljana. Before the train left, they went to the station with their tickets. Schlegel's new name was Norman Meier. Götz cannot remember the name he received at that time.

"We didn't know what we started. We didn't know the dangers we could face. But when we got to the Austrian side, the train was not stopped and we knew we were safe now."

West German diplomats, who arranged fake documents for Schlegel and Götz, also said what to do. They would go to Giessen, where there is a facility that processes refugees.

"It was a big surprise. He didn't know our plaques and had heard our escape from the news on West German TVs. I said I was good and trusted. We knew he was listening to Stasi."

"Falko and I decided to never talk about politics, criticize the East, talk only about football in our interviews. That was safe for us and our families."

Berger arranged negotiations with the clubs. They chose to sign Bayer Leverkusen, but they had to wait a year to wear the uniform. Dynamo Berlin did not accept that the players were gone. FIFA's 12-month transfer ban has arrived.

Berger was then at the head of KSV Hessen Kassel in the German 2nd League. In 2010, before he died of cancer at the age of 65, he wrote an autobiography, which he claimed was the target of an assassination attempt in the 1980s and was poisoned by a Stasi agent.

Berger also mentioned several times about ex-Dinamo player Lutz Eigendorf, who escaped while returning from a match with Kaiserslautern in 1979. After his escape, he harshly criticized East Germany.

In March 1983, before Schlegel and Götz secretly traveled to Munich, Eigendorf died in a car accident. According to Berger, the accident bore traces of a Stasi operation. The driver, cruising at high speed, was blinded by a bright light. In the tests, alcohol was found in Eigendorf's blood, but his friends said that he did not drink alcohol before getting in his car.

Götz and Schlegel played in Bundesliga. They practiced with Leverkusen, got used to their new life, but their negative life was never literally left behind. They were being watched very closely.

"They watched us in Leverkusen and they followed my mom and dad throughout the day. They were not hidden but they wanted them to see. There were interviews, inquiries, pressure. When I saw my files in the Stasi archive, I found things I don't want to talk about now."

"But it was important to me at the time not to say that everything in East Germany was bad, that the communists were bad. Not just because I knew what the reaction would be to it, but because it wasn't."

When the tension of the Cold War began to decrease in the 1980s, both players started to meet with their families regularly and to contribute to their teams on the field after the bans were lifted. Every Saturday, they were seen in Bundesliga summaries, which were secretly watched in many homes in East Germany, and they were a great source of pride for their families.

Schlegel left Leverkusen in 1985 and signed Blau-Weiss Berlin in 1986. He now lived on the west side of the city where he was born, and of course he never crossed the other side.

When Schlegel heard the news, he was in a hotel with his teammates. When someone reached out from the bar and yelled "Hey Dirk, the wall was destroyed," he had just returned from training.

He thought it was a joke. He could not believe what happened at least five minutes, even after seeing images on TV. Thousands of laughing East German were passing through checkpoints, barbed wires, spotlights, and confused border guards. So what would happen now?

"Come on! The wall has collapsed and I'm not in Berlin," Schlegel thought. We could not be in a more remote place in Germany. We had an away game against Schalke. " says.

"On the weekend, I came back from the match in Schalke and my family finally came to visit me with two friends. We had dinner, talked, drank at home."

Götz crossed the east side of Berlin for the first time in December since his departure with Schlegel and Dynamo Berlin teammates in 1983. He returned to his house, "Nothing had changed, everything was exactly the same," and he had time with his family in between. Her mother finally returned a few things she could hide.

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