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German Museum Memorializes the Berlin Wall

April 27, 1986|GORDON E. ROWLEY | Rowley is an Esmond, R.I., free-lance writer.

Other escapes were made simply by tricking border guards. Some people got through by flashing membership cards to the Munich Playboy Club, which looked remarkably like diplomatic corps passports. And an East German girl created "Soviet" uniforms for three male friends, then hid on the floor of their car as the Volpos waved them through a border crossing.

In recent years, most daring escapes have been by air. In 1979 two families (eight people) fled East Germany in a homemade hot-air balloon 84 feet high, and in 1984 Ivo Zdarsky flew to freedom in a home-built airplane.

But one of the most fascinating exhibits in the museum is a 1964 Isetta, an Italian-built car so tiny that it was exempt from inspection at checkpoints--the East Germans believed it couldn't possibly conceal a refugee. But soon after its exemption was given, the Isetta was modified to hold an escapee in the space once taken up by the battery and heating system. And, one at a time, nine more East Germans reached the West.

The House at Checkpoint Charlie is open daily, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Admission: D.M. 3.50 (U.S. $1.40).

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