TRAPPED BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN
Screenplay by Pamala L. Hall based on a true story by Marita Petos
In the 1970’s, Berlin, Germany was divided. The Cold War was in full force. West Berlin was considered an enemy to the people of East Berlin. School teachers locked televisions so that children saw only the news that told them, “West Berlin is dangerous. They will kill you. You will be homeless. East Berlin is your beloved home!“
Even then Marita Patos, living in East Berlin wanted freedom from the Berlin Wall that had been built between East and West Berlin. Often referred to as the IRON CURTAIN as it trapped its citizens from ever entering West Berlin. People died in the attempt to cross that wall. More-often-than-not they were refused the right to travel or live in West Berlin. A heavy punishment of death or prison was paid if one attempted ‘illegally’ to cross the wall. Wire, field mines, guards with heavy artillery- whatever was needed to stop the people who attempted crossing. Even underground tunnels were dug out where often people died and few escaped. People smugglers fixed their trunks so hidden passengers could attempt escape.
MARITA PATOS, her husband, and young son wanted freedom! They wanted to escape no matter what the cost!
No one was told of their escape plan. It was too dangerous. Strangers, friends, family may tell the deadly Stasi that an escape plan was underway. No one could be trusted! No one could be put at risk!
Marita had wanted freedom since a young girl. Even in school she was reprimanded for being outspoken against the Stasi and East Berlin. She wore clothing from West Berlin which was considered despicable. She and her husband eventually found it impossible to keep employment. If you were marked by the Stasi as troublemakers, you were constantly fired. And constantly followed! Questioned. Even as Marita and her husband would seek freedom from the embassies (including a refusal by the Americans), they would be met on the streets by questioning police officers or followed in the dark by the Stasi.
One could hardly breathe. At every turn there seemed to be a shadow. A follower. A threat. They were told time and again to stop their petitions for freedom. They were told “no one may ever know where you are. You will vanish!” Yet, filled with passion and courage for freedom and a desire to live in Marita and her husband continued to send petitions in an effort to gain freedom. No one would help.
As danger pressed closer, they knew a plan of escape must be made! Taking their very-young son, who was an already an emotionally troubled child, and keeping their plan secret from all, was a great risk. As they felt the Stasi may be closing in, they made their move! Someone would have to be kidnapped! Threats would have to be made. Marita wanted no one harmed. They walked the roads until they found their victim- their way to cross the border. Weapons and force would have to be used. A Cuban diplomat picked them up in his car. The escape was in process. Things could still go terribly wrong.
And they did!