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This 1960 interview of a schoolgirl who was accidentally arrested in East Germany is a gem

Then 16-year-old Vanessa Clark was arrested for accidentally crossing the East German border and her narration about her experience is a witty overload.

This 1960 interview of a schoolgirl who was accidentally arrested in East Germany is a gem
Cover Image Source: YouTube | BBC Archive

People often have various plans for their holidays, but getting arrested is usually not one of them. Additionally, no one wants to be arrested, let alone enjoy it. However, for then-16-year-old Vanessa Clark, her 1960 holidays turned into quite the adventure when she got accidentally arrested in East Germany, per BBC Archives. As the story unfolds, it becomes more baffling with a touch of priceless humor that people still cherish today.

Representative Image Source: Pexels| George Milton
Representative Image Source: Pexels | George Milton

When asked, Clark explained that she was with a German friend, Margitta, and they were walking near the Russian border. “We were walking near the German border and we unwittingly crossed the line,” she said. “We were in East German territory and Margitta called out to a young guard and asked, ‘Can we have a photo?’” Clark hysterically recalled. The young guard was friendly, but upon looking at the girls’ cameras, he said, “I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to come with us because you’re standing on East Germany ground.”

Representative Image Source; Pexels| Kindel Media
Representative Image Source; Pexels | Kindel Media

The duo was then taken to the camp. However, Clark and her friend didn’t seem to be worried. “We were each put separately in a dark cellar for about half an hour, but apart from that, there was nothing to complain about,” she remarked. The young girl also added that they were well-fed, kept warm and treated well. Clark mentioned that two men interrogated them. “Margitta was interrogated, they wanted to know where the factories were in Duderstadt and things like that,” she mentioned. She added that her interrogation consisted of the men asking her whether she was a communist or capitalist.

“I said, ‘I’m very young and I’d like to learn more and choose when I’m older. I thought that I’ll be British and very diplomatic.’” Clark pointed out. While a little more political banter was carried out, she revealed that she was released the following morning. When asked why she was released, Clark said, “We were happily playing table tennis with the guards and officers. The British officers had gone to the consul in Bonn and to the officials in Berlin and the British officers met the Russians. I think it was Helmstadt."

Clark highlighted that since there was no recognition of East Germany at the time, everything for their release had to be done through the Russians. “I saw no Russian at all. They were all Germans,” she recalled. When the interviewer asked her whether she was frightened and would ever visit East Germany again, Clark was more than excited. “I wasn’t frightened. I liked it very much. I got to learn a lot, more than what they tell you in the newspapers. I’d like to go again, this time with a visa and by the right channels,” she hysterically said.




People had a good laugh over the situation and how hilariously calm Clark was through it all. @iansimons1 said, “So well spoken and grounded with the typical British sense of humor that seems to have gone these days.” @jackiecahill5 added, “She’s wonderful! Witty, confident, articulate. What a star!” @Steg68 exclaimed, “Absolute scenes. Gobsmacked watching this.”


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