• Germany's news in English

'Dad, if you keep driving this fast, we will be the first!'

DPA/The Local · 11 Sep 2009, 17:13

Published: 11 Sep 2009 17:13 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

On September 11, 1989, nothing could stop Gerhard Meyer. When Hungary opened its borders to Austria for refugees from East Germany on that day, the canteen manager, returning from holiday in Bulgaria, pulled ahead of his fellow countrymen in a Japanese sports car he’d bought on the black market.

The barriers were lifted at midnight, and by 3:05 am, Meyer, his wife and their two children reached Lower Bavaria, and entered West Germany.

The 39-year old East Berliner set off with a full tank and his speedometer read over 200 kilometres per hour more than once during the 400 kilometre trip from Lake Balaton in Hungary, which took just two and a half hours to complete.

At the Hungary-Austria border, those fleeing from East Germany were given West German passports, hot off the press, along with money for petrol and provisions. But Meyer said he didn’t want to end up in a race with his fellow East Germans.

“We set off in a convoy of 10 or 20 cars,” he told news agency DPA.

Soon, though, the famously slow East German “Trabis” (officially known as “Trabants”) could no longer keep pace with Meyer’s speedy machine. Meyer, now 59, remembers several of the iconic vehicles breaking down, and others just limping along.

“Gradually, because of that, we all spread out,” Meyer said.

As they continued on their way through Austria, one of his daughters turned to him and said, “Dad, if you keep going this fast, we will be the first!” From that moment on, Meyer said he wouldn’t stop for anything.

His daughter proved to be right. On that night, even journalists and customs officers at the West German border were surprised as the Meyers drove by on the motorway. Nobody had expected such an early arrival.

“For 28 years, we had been trapped, but at the point when we were approaching freedom, everyone was asleep,” Meyer remembered of the approach to the border.

It was a similar story when the family reached Passau in Bavaria, where special accommodations had been built in a field for arrivals from East Germany.

Story continues below…

As the Meyer family arrived, no one was there apart from one caretaker. The family drove on further to another emergency accommodation site.

In the twenty years since the fall of the wall, the gastronomist has stuck with his trade.

“I now have five restaurants in Berlin,” he said.

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German town, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd