The escape of Robert Ospald and his friend Zdeněk Pohl to Austria on high voltage wires in the summer of 1986 literally became a sensation. Ospald was thirty-five and Pohl was twenty years old at that time.

Journalists from a number of countries wrote about them, TV recorded them; they both went through their few weeks of fame. Their escape via special and secretly homemade seats belonged to the most interesting escapes across the Iron Curtain ever.

No wonder that the seat, which served Zdeněk Pohl, is exhibited in the Wall Museum in Berlin - Checkpoint Charlie Museum.

The idea emerged by accident. When Ospald went by bus, he saw high voltage wires. He realized that they could also lead to the West. In Physics textbook he found the information that the energy networks of Austria and former Czechoslovakia are linked. And he also knew that the top lines have no voltage but they only have technical importance. But in the other wires there were 380 000 volts!

So they decided to try it at a well-hidden place in Czechoslovakia. They constructed seats according to self-made designs. They experienced a few failures. By that time they already knew where the wires cross the border. They went around all the wires by train. The railway between Břeclav and Znojmo ran at some places near the border. They were sitting on a train, looking out of the window. They finally found the wires just outside Znojmo.

Running over the stretch between two columns on seats was not easy. It took several hours. On 19 July 1986 they succeeded to escape. They surpassed wire barricade in height, slid down the following pole, ran through the cornfields and arrived in Austria. The first sign in German, made them incredibly happy. The sign said something in the sense that agricultural machines are allowed to enter.

Find more in the book: Příběhy železné opony 1 - Luděk Navara, Publisher HOST.

Photo gallery

Archive photos – period press
Archive photos – period press

Robert Ospald - Vienna
Robert OspaldRobert Ospald

Scheme of high-voltage wires
Scheme of high-voltage wiresScheme of high-voltage wires

Photos from the archive of Robert Ospald – Haugsdorf commune
Haugsdorf commune

Walking route suggestion

  1. Dyjákovičky
  2. Crossroads U Ivana
  3. State border (along high-voltage wires)
  4. Haugsdorf