ESCAPINGS

Written by Ulli Kampelmann

1975 in Communist East Germany where rock 'n' roll is verboten, where having a private telephone is very rare, where owning a car is even more extraordinary, where buildings fall to ruin due to a severe lack of craftsmen, where the Stasi (the secret police) maintain the most successful surveillance state in history and have a boot on the neck of anyone they suspect of non-conformity or anti-socialism. Escape is the dream of many but the reality of extremely few.

This is the remarkable true story of Ulli Kampelmann who successfully escaped to freedom... three times.

Though she is often unaware of it, Ulli is under heavy surveillance by members of the Stasi, orchestrated primarily by Sigmar, a Stasi officer with particular antipathy to the Kampelmann family. At times they became more overt and the persecution more blatant.

Then Ulli meets Klaus, a boy from West Berlin visiting Ulli's hometown. They fall in love and he vows to help her escape.

With exceptional luck she escapes to West Berlin in the trunk of Klaus' little Renault where she eventually settles into a life free of the restrictions she faced back home. Little does she know that in retaliation, Sigmar and his lieutenants torment Ulli's Mom, imprison her brother and harass her friends.

A year after her escape, Ulli is established in West Berlin as an art teacher. Still, she longs for the intimacy and camaraderie of her family and wishes she could somehow, someway see her Mom and siblings once again.

Then one afternoon, during a field trip to a children's theater, one of her young students points out that Annette, the actress on stage could be Ulli's twin. Ulli tracks down Annette and begs for the use of her passport to sneak back into East Germany. Annette is delighted to help and on Christmas day 1976, Klaus and Ulli cross back in East Germany to spend a wonderful and touching holiday family reunion.

Meanwhile, Sigmar gets wind of the family gathering and takes action to confirm his suspicions. He orders a number of Stasi agents to investigate and throughout the day, despite a series of missteps, the Stasi agents are hard on Ulli's heels and closing in right up to the moment Ulli and Klaus reach the West Berlin border crossing. Ulli's phenomenal luck holds and she escapes once again.


HOME