Rise And Shine | THE ESCAPE


Die Flucht


History, Human Rights, Society

Documentary, Denmark/Germany 2014
Runtime: 52 min. / 46 min. / 26 min.
Director: Jesper Clemmensen
Production: Hansen og Pedersen/Kloos & Co. Medien


The Sender family´s escape from East Germany in 1977 turned into a tragedy. An emotional story of a family that puts everything at stake to live in freedom during the heydays of oppression in the GDR.

The tragedy begins in the early morning hours of March 8, 1977. The Sender family want to escape from the GDR to go back to West-Germany. 16 years before, Ulla and Hans-Georg Sender had done the reverse route, migrating from West Germany to East Germany. Now they want to go back. With their three children Susanne, Beate and Christoph, the Senders have decided to try to escape through the Baltic sea on two kayaks. Yet after leaving the dry land, things take a dramatic turn: one of the kayaks capsizes in a storm; the father and the two daughters drown under the powerless eyes of mother Ulla and their son Christoph, who will both be rescued only shortly afterwards by the crew of a Danish ferry. Mother Ulla never managed to come to terms with the tragic event, and until today she never spoke about it with her son Christoph. He has many unresolved questions: Why had his parents decided to leave West Germany in 1961? And once settled in the GDR, why did they want to flee back again to the West, to the Bundesrepublik?