True Love and the Cold War

It seems that 1963 was a bad year to fall in love with a woman from East Germany, especially if you lived in West Germany. The Berlin Wall had been erected 2 years earlier to stem the tide of East Germans seeking to cross the border into the freedom of West Germany. That, however, didn’t stop Heinz Meixner, who had a sports car and the guts to come up with a plan to get the woman he loved across the border. His attempts at getting official sanction for his fiancĂ©e, Margrete Thurau, to emigrate had met with failure. So, he rented an Austin-Healey Sprite and crossed over into East Germany on a tourist pass. He went to the home of his betrothed and hid her in the area behind the seats of the Sprite, while he directed his future mother-in-law into the trunk. At just after midnight on May 5, 1963, Meixner headed toward Checkpoint Charlie. The top was down on the Sprite, and after showing his passport to the guards brandishing AK-47s, he was waved over to the Customs inspection area. Rather than stopping at the area, Meixner punched the Sprite full throttle and ran the obstacle course of his life, steering around cones, concrete barriers, and armed guards. He maneuvered the Sprite toward the border entry to West Germany, ducked his head, and drove under the barrier arm to freedom. Safely into West Germany, Meixner’s first words to his bride-to-be were, “Now we can get married.”

Margrete Thurau, Heinz Meixner and Margrete's mother