Denmark, Germany, 2014 | 50 + 46 + 26 Minutes | A film by Jesper Clemmensen

While millions fled from DDR to West Germany some families chose to travel the other way. THE ESCAPE follows Christoph Sender in his search for answers. Why did his parents leave the West? Why did they have to flee 16 years later? And why did he have to lose his father and his two sisters? With stunning archive material and high quality re-enactment, THE ESCAPE is a highly 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 of 8 March 1977, the day planned for family Sender´s comeback to West Germany. Sixteen years before, Ulla and Hans-Georg Sender had done the reverse route, migrating from the BRD to East Germany. But now they want to go back to the West. With their three children Susanne, Beate and Christoph, the Senders have decided to escape through the Baltic sea on two kayaks. Yet after leaving the dry land, things take a dramatic turn: the kayak, where the father Hans-Georg is paddling with the two daughters, capsizes.

    The three Senders drown under the powerless eyes of mother Ulla and the son Christoph, who will be rescued only short afterwards by the crew of a Danish ship. Mother Ulla never managed to come to terms with the tragic event, and until today she never spoke about it with her son Christoph. From his side, the latter has many unresolved questions: why had his parents decided to leave West Germany in 1961? And once settled in the DDR, why did they decide, sixteen years later, to flee back again to the West, to the Bundesrepublik?

    Christoph Sender brings us with him into his truth-seeking journey. He will meet old friends and examine the classified files proving the interest of the Stasi, the secret DDR police, for the Sender family. And through this emotional travel through the past, Christoph will perhaps come to terms with the tragic events of March 1977, when the attempted escape of his parents from East Germany changed his life forever.


    Jesper Clemmensen, born in 1975, grew up on the Danish Baltic coast. He is an author and TV journalist and spent seven years researching the individual fates of GDR refugees.


    Jesper Clemmensen

    Lars Reinholt
    Jesper Clemmensen
    Anders Riis-Hansen

    Jesper Osmund

    Malene Flindt Pedersen
    Anders Riis-Hansen
    Stefan Kloos

    Executive Producer
    Loraine Blumenthal

    Hansen & Pedersen
    Kloos & Co. Medien

    World Sales
    Rise and Shine World Sales