Gabriel Berger

Berlin, Berlin
* 1944

One year of political detention was not too high a price to pay for the freedom I was able to enjoy in West Germany – even before the Wall came down – from 1977 to 1989.

Biografie auf Deutsch
  • politische Haft
  • Staatssicherheit
  • Ausreise/Ausbürgerung
  • Englisch
  • Russisch
  • Polnisch

Biographical information

1944 Born into a Polish-Jewish family under German occupation in Valence, France
1946-1948 Lived with his parents in Antwerp, Belgium
1948-1957 Lived with his parents in Wroc?aw, Poland
1957- Resident in the GDR
1962 Abitur in Markkleeberg near Leipzig
Until 1967 Studies in physics at the Technical University of Dresden
1967 Application to be relieved of GDR citizenship
1968-1969 Military service in the National People’s Army
1969-1976 Position as research assistant at the Zentralinstitut für Kernforschung (Central Institute for Nuclear Research) in Rossendorf near Dresden
1975 Application to relocate to West Germany
1976 Arrested and convicted of ‘defamation of the state’, sentenced to one year in prison
1977 Relocation to West Berlin
1979-1981 Position as scientific assistant at the Institute for Nuclear Engineering at the Technical University of Berlin
1981-1983 Employment as a journalist; assignment to report on the Solidarno?? movement in Poland, philosophy studies at the TU Berlin
1984-2014 Employed as IT trainer and freelance work as author
2007- Retired, IT trainer, author, lecturer, in contact with Jewish organisations in Germany and Poland


Born into a Jewish family, I was deeply aware of the atrocities committed by the Nazis during the Holocaust from my early childhood onward. My family upbringing was decidedly Communist, yet as early as 1967 I was eager to shed my citizenship after living in the GDR for ten years – albeit unsuccessfully. In 1968, I was a fervent supporter of the Czechoslovakian reform movement, which I advocated for even as a soldier in the National People’s Army. After the sealing of the final act of the CSCE Accord of Helsinki I applied for relocation to West Germany in 1975, only to have my request be denied. After that, I displayed my rejection of the SED’s dictatorship publicly, leading to my arrest in 1976. After a year in prison I was allowed to leave the GDR. In West Berlin, I became actively involved in raising awareness about conditions in the GDR, participating, for instance, as a speaker at the Bahro Congress and publishing an article on Nazis in East German prisons. I travelled to Poland as special correspondent for the newspaper Die Welt in 1981 to report on the Solidarnocz movement. My books largely address the past in the GDR and in Poland as well as the strained relationship between Poles and Jews.

Gabriel Berger über seine Kindheit, das Leben in der DDR und seine Verhaftung.


"Am Ende Staatsfeind" - Gabriel Berger über Denunziationen durch Mitgefangene nach seiner Haftentlassung, Spiegel, 21.8.1978


Gabriel Berger im Interview über seine politische Haft.