project. W I E Berlin

we.png

title.

duration.

project partner.

 

exhibition.

Histories of Escape during a Divided Germany in Virtual Reality

08.2018 - 03.2020

Three Space Lab

REALITAETENLABOR

Kulturprojekte Berlin

30th anniversay Peaceful Revolution / Mauerfall

project description. 

The German division is one of the most defining times in the history of Germany. The project W I E Berlin is a virtual reality (VR) documentary about escape and escape assistance from East to West Germany and was first exhibited in November 2019 on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Peaceful Revolution / Fall of the Wall. For this project, we recorded interviews with contemporary witnesses using the new Volumetric Video Capture technology and recreated their experiences in virtual reality. The VR technology allows us to bring these stories of courage and determination to life in an immersive format. The project was conceived as part of the MIT Media Lab Berlin Workshop 2018. During this event, a team of international PhD students sought to use the medium of VR to create an immersive learning experience. In the course of the following years, the team members, with the support of Three Space Lab and Kulturprojekte Berlin, interviewed further eyewitnesses and completed the project with five of the seven eyewitness reports in March 2020.

project implementation.

Dr. Burkhart Veigel - escape assistance

veigel.png

SEQUENZ: In the scene, you are in the driver's seat of a converted Cadillac while Dr. Veigel explains to you how the escape driving was carried out.

PRODUCTION*:

Scott Greenwald & Jakob J. Korbel

DIRECTION*:

Scott Greenwald & Jakob J. Korbel

IMPLEMENTATION:

Gavin McDowell, Wiley Corning* & Simon Schwär*

ART*:

Jakob J. Korbel & Jovana Plavšić

Dr. Burkhart Veigel was born in Eisfeld, Thuringia, in 1938 and came to West Berlin in spring 1961 to study medicine at the Freie Universität. When he returned to the divided city for the winter semester of 1961, he began helping people escape from the GDR. Until January 1962, he was active as a "star runner" in the so-called Girrmann Group, after which he organised his own group of escape helpers together with some fellow students. Together they dug tunnels and converted cars into escape vehicles. The Ministry for State Security kept a close eye on Veigel's activities and tried to kidnap him. Veigel then left West Berlin and moved to Hanover in 1969. During his time as an escape assistant, he helped about 650 people flee to the West. In 1976, he settled in Stuttgart as an orthopaedist and sports physician. In 2007, Burkhart Veigel moved back to Berlin to do research on the past of the divided city, especially on escape and escape assistance. This resulted in his book "Wege durch die Mauer - Fluchthilfe und Stasi zwischen Ost und West" and the novel "FREI". In 2012, he was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit on Ribbon for the work he had done to help refugees.

INTERVIEW*:

Wiley Corning, Scott Greenwald, Jakob J. Korbel, Simon Schwär & Robin Schweigert

*contributed equally

Joachim Rudolph - escape & escape assistance

rudolph.png

SEQUENZ: In the scene, Mr. Rudolph explains the process of the escape across the Green Border, while the narration is accompanied by audio-visuals.

PRODUCTION*:

Scott Greenwald & Jakob J. Korbel

DIRECTION:

Luca Beisel

IMPLEMENTATION:

Luca Beisel & Wiley Corning

ART:

Luca Beisel

Joachim Rudolph was born in East Brandenburg, which has been part of present-day Poland since 1945. He grew up in East Berlin and as a fourteen-year-old witnessed the popular uprising of the 17th of June 1953 and the building of the Wall on 13th of August 1961. After graduating from high school, he first did an apprenticeship as an electrical fitter at the Reichsbahnausbesserungswerk in Schöneweide before taking up studies in Dresden. After the Wall was built, he decided to leave the GDR with a friend. In September 1961, they both waded from Schildow through the Tegeler Fließ across the border barriers towards Lübars. Once in West Berlin, he resumed his studies and joined a group of students at the Technische Universität Berlin who dug a tunnel under Bernauer Strasse towards East Berlin. On the 14th of September 1962, the breakthrough was successful and 29 GDR citizens made their way to West Berlin through the tunnel, which was therefore named "Tunnel 29". After this successful escape assistance, Rudolph participated in the construction of two more tunnels. These projects were uncovered by the Ministry for State Security. The refugees and some of the escape helpers were arrested. In 2012, he received the Federal Cross of Merit on Ribbon for the escape assistance he had provided.

INTERVIEW*:

Wiley Corning, Scott Greenwald, Jakob J. Korbel, Simon Schwär & Robin Schweigert

*contributed equally

Marion - escape

marion.PNG

SEQUENZ: In the scene, you go through the escape described, starting from the Michendorf motorway service station to your arrival in West Germany.

PRODUCTION*:

Scott Greenwald & Jakob J. Korbel

DIRECTION*:

Wiley Corning, Scott Greenwald & Sara Lisa Vogl

IMPLEMENTATION:

Wiley Corning & Simon Schwär

ART:

VRHUMAN (Vladimir Ilic) & Wiley Corning

Marion was born and grew up in Saxony-Anhalt. At the age of 19, she already made the decision to leave East Germany because she felt imprisoned in the GDR and did not want to raise her children later in a state that had drawn a fence around its citizens. As she did not want to flee in a way that would risk her life, the opportunity only arose after she had completed her studies. In 1975, she and two friends decided to use the services of an escape company that transported GDR citizens from East to West Germany in cars for 10,000 D-marks. They met at the Michendorf motorway service station, also known as the "lion's den", and drove from there towards Helmstedt. During the escape, the three climbed into the boot via the back seat. At the border, the vehicle was checked, but not the boot. Once in West Germany, Marion moved to West Berlin after a short stay in Hamburg, where she still lives today. Due to an informer who passed information to the state security about the escapes for a 50 D-mark bounty, the three subsequent escape attempts were uncovered at the border and the refugees as well as the drivers were sentenced to prison.

INTERVIEW*:

Jerome Huber, Jakob J. Korbel, Sara Lisa Vogl

*contributed equally

Ralph Kabisch - escape assistance

kabisch.png

SEQUENZ: The scene describes the construction of tunnel 57 and the process and organisation of the escape through it.

 

PRODUCTION*:

Scott Greenwald & Jakob J. Korbel

DIRECTION:

Scott Greenwald, Jakob J. Korbel, Gavin McDowell & Jovana Plavšić

IMPLEMENTATION:

Gavin McDowell & Jakob J. Korbel

ART*:

Jovana Plavšić, Gavin McDowell, Jakob J. Korbel & Raimundo Gonzalez

Ralph Kabisch was born in Görlitz in 1942 and came to West Berlin in October 1961 to begin his studies. In the newly divided city, those who wanted to help their friends and relatives escape from the GDR quickly came together among the students. In 1964, he joined the group led by Wolfgang Fuchs, one of the best-known escape helpers, to bring his cousin from Görlitz to the West. Together with around 25 other students, they worked on "Tunnel 57". After six months of excavation work, 57 people were able to escape through the tunnel. His cousin, however, was not among them. Afterwards, he was involved in escape operations using a converted Cadillac. During one of these escapes, he noticed on the 18th of November 1967 that he was being watched and followed; he then abandoned the planned escape, was arrested on the 19th of November and convicted. On the 9th of May 1968, he was released on the basis of an amnesty and returned to the Federal Republic. He stopped helping people escape and, after completing his studies, began his professional career, which also took him abroad to work on various railway tunnel projects. In 2012, he received the Federal Cross of Merit on Ribbon for the escape assistance he provided.

INTERVIEW*:

Wiley Corning, Scott Greenwald, Jakob J. Korbel, Simon Schwär & Robin Schweigert

*contributed equally

Sabine Braun - Flucht

braun.png

SEQUENZ: In the scene, you are at the Prague embassy and widness the departure from Prague to Hof.

PRODUCTION*:

Scott Greenwald & Jakob J. Korbel

DIRECTION*:

Wiley Corning, Scott Greenwald & Sara Lisa Vogl

IMPLEMENTATION:

Wiley Corning & Simon Schwär

ART:

Silvana Vásquez-Keller, Wiley Corning, Jakob J. Korbel & Simon Schwär

Sabine Braun grew up in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and moved to East Berlin to study and work. The desire to leave the GDR, to leave the confines of the country behind, to travel and to be able to visit her family in the West, already matured in the early 1980s. However, she did not apply to leave the country because she feared reprisals. When she set off on a trip to Prague with her partner on the 23th of September 1989, they immediately sensed the explosive atmosphere in the city. Thousands of GDR citizens were in Prague to force their way out by camping on the grounds of the West German embassy. They decided to try to find a way onto the grounds of the Prague embassy as well, which they succeeded in doing. On the 30 th of September 1989, Hans-Dietrich Genscher spoke to the embassy refugees and announced their departure from Prague to West Germany. The refugees were then able to leave Prague by train, albeit through the territory of the GDR, and arrived in the Bavarian town of Hof on the 1st of October. After a stay in Bayreuth, Sabine Braun and her partner took a plane from Nuremberg to West Berlin on the 7th of October, the 40th anniversary of the GDR. From the plane she could see her old flat in East Berlin.

INTERVIEW*:

Jerome Huber, Jakob J. Korbel, Sara Lisa Vogl

*contributed equally

credits.

​​

Executive Producer:
 

 

Project Team:




 

 

Special Thanks:


 

 

Support From:

Scott Greenwald, Three Space Lab Inc.
Jakob J. Korbel, Technische Universität Berlin


Luca Beisel
Wiley Corning
Raimundo Gonzalez
Jerome Huber
Taru Muhonen
Gavin McDowell


Diana Avramica
Cristina Dobre
Ariane Ecker
Ryuta Fujii


EyeEm Mobile GmbH
Paul Martin, HP Inc.


Jovana Plavšić
Simon Schwär
Robin Schweigert
Silvana Vásquez-Keller
Sara Lisa Vogl
VRHUMAN (Vladimir Ilic)


Klaudia Krawiecka
Alex Laiman
MIT Media Lab
Vive X Tel Aviv


Philipp Neuhaus

project partner.

The project was carried out in collaboration between Three Space Lab Inc. and REALITAETENLABOR.

3SL.png
Real_logooooooo.png

project funding.

The project was funded by Kulturprojekte Berlin as part of the exhibition on the 30th anniversary of the Peaceful Revolution / Fall of the Wall.

Kulturprojekte_edited.jpg