Today. Steve Minegar and Shane Whaley bring you the story of Peter Keup on the East Germany Podcast – Radio GDR. In this episode, you will hear how Peter’s life was made a misery following his family’s application for an exit visa. Peter discusses how his life was never to be the same again. How he was treated as a pariah by the East German state, which led to him trying to escape the GDR, getting captured, and spending time in an East German cell. He was later bought out by West Germany and following the fall of the Wall, he was to learn via his family’s Stasi files that he was spied on by his brother for the Stasi.
The ironic aspect of this story is that Peter’s family moved to East Germany from West Germany because his father was a Communist who wanted to live in a country whose ideals he shared. The Keup family realized that the ‘Workers and Farmers State’ was in fact an authoritarian dictatorship.
In this episode, we learn:
- How Peter was barred from participating in school sports, in particular track and field.
- Wy Peter could not continue his studies.
- How he took up ballroom dancing which was one of the very few activities in East Germany not run by the state.
- That many of Peter’s friends turned their backs on him.
- How the exit visa request affected Peter’s employment opportunities
- More about Peter’s plan to escape from East Germany.
- How Peter was captured in Bratislava
- More about life in a GDR prison and how he coped.
- How he was bought out by West Germany.
- Peter walks us through the day he was finally released from the Cottbus prison and driven to West Germany.
- Why Peter decided to work at the Cottbus Prison where he was imprisoned.
- That on checking his family’s Stasi Files that his brother was a Stasi informant.
- What Peter Keup thinks about Katerina Witt’s comments about life in East Germany.
And Much More
This is a must-listen episode of the East Germany Podcast. We are honored that Peter took time out of his busy day to share more about his life in East Germany. Over the last few episodes, we have covered the ‘fun’ elements of East German life such as music, movies, and fashion but it is always important to remember there is a very dark side to East Germany. Our East Germany podcast never seeks to glorify the GDR. As an interviewer, I felt very emotional during this conversation. Hearing how awful life must have been for Peter, all because he and his family wanted to leave the country. He was not an agitator or a subversive, he just wanted to live his life in freedom.
After visiting Hohenschonhausen Stasi Prison, I questioned on air whether I wanted to continue with this project because I never want to be accused of glorifying the GDR. I am glad you urged me to continue producing episodes of the podcast because having heard Peter’s life story and how he is now teaching others, I want to share his story and message with others around the world.
Thank you to journalist Malcolm Jack without whom this interview would not have been possible. Check out his article My Brother Stasi Spied On Me for The Guardian
Links and Resources Mentioned on Episode 28 of the East Germany Podcast – Radio GDR.
- Peter Keup
- Human Rights Centre Cottbus
- My Brother Spied On Me for the Stasi – The Guardian
- That Hohenschonhausen Prison episode.
Check out the first in the Why We Are Fascinated by East Germany with Steve Minegar.