Most of our employees have interesting stories to tell, but few have spent 15 months in an East German jail after abandoning a plan to somersault the Berlin Wall from a trampoline before trying to escape the country on foot.
Holger Bismann, managing director of Patagonia Europe, was generous enough to share some of his experiences of what it was like to live under totalitarian rule in East Germany, keep alive a relationship with his future wife while in jail, then cross the border into freedom after the Wall came down.
1) What is your most vivid memory of living in East Germany before the Wall came down? The thing that reminds you of that time the most?
My most vivid memories were of saying "good bye" to the good things about the life I had there for 27 years, right before my friend Klaus and I escaped. We couldn't actually say good bye to anyone because it was too dangerous to tell anybody about our plans. We couldn't even say anything to our closest friends or parents, simply to protect them and ourselves from danger.
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[A photo from earlier, and easier, times - before the personal ordeal that would eventually lead to freedom from East Germany. Photo: Holger Bisman collection]