Holger Timmreck

Hamburg, Hamburg
* 1959

Less talk – more action! It was a combination of frustration, curiosity, and courage that made me want to leave … and only in the very end did things take a turn for the better.

Biografie auf Deutsch
  • Medien
  • politische Haft
  • Flucht/Fluchthilfe
  • Freikauf
  • Sport
  • Englisch
  • Spanisch

Biographical information

1959 Born in Pirna
1977 Abitur (equivalent to High school diploma or A-levels), denied admission to a university course in sports science in the GDR
1977–1979 Completed basic military training with the National People’s Army (NVA)
1980 Attempted escape from the CSR to Austria, arrested at the border, sentenced to two years and four months in prison
1980–1982 Imprisoned at Brandeburg-Görden Prison
1982 Purchased release and relocated to the Federal Republic of Germany
1983–1988 Studied sports science at the German Sport University in Cologne (degree in sports education and sports journalism)
1988–1991 Worked for the sports desk at the private broadcaster RTL in Cologne
1991–1998 Worked for the sports desk at the pay-TV broadcaster Premiere in Hamburg
1999–2011 Worked as a freelance director and producer of sports-related programmes
2012–2018 Overseas work engagement as a teacher at the German school in Lima, Peru


Holger Timmreck dreamt of becoming a sports educator, but having grown up in a dissident household, his path to studying sports sciences was an unorthodox one. From a young age, he knew that his father was in the Stasi prison for having committed for being an "agitator". For the adolescent Holger Timmreck, sports meant everything. Dreaming of career in the field, he completed his Abitur with the intention of becoming a sports teacher. Despite his good Abitur results, his teachers issued an evaluation stating that he was "NOT suitable for university studies, he would not educate young people according to the principles of socialism".
He repeatedly ran into serious trouble due to problems concerning his "socialist education", including during his basic military training with the NVA. Following his service in the army, Holger Timmreck enrolled at a school for agricultural engineering. Two semesters into his studies, his frustration had grown significantly, as had his curiosity to see what was on the other side of the "Iron Curtain".
Mustering all his courage, he decided, together with a friend, to attempt an escape to Austria via Czechoslovakia. The turbulent night of their failed escape ended with them being arrested and subsequently extradited to the GDR State Security (Stasi).
Following Stasi remand and after receiving a prison sentence (of two years and four months) in the name of the people in Dresden, he ended up in the infamous Brandenburg-Görden Prison at age 21, suddenly surrounded by hardened criminals serving long terms. Even in prison, Timmreck’s anti-Communist stance landed him in the detention cell. After almost 18 months behind bars, in 1982 at long last, he found himself on a coach to freedom, together with other ransomed inmates.
A year later, he finally achieved his goal of enrolling as a student at the German Sport University Cologne. After earning a degree in sports journalism, he found work in television. He started off as a cableman at West German public broadcaster WDR, before advancing to the sports desks at private TV broadcaster RTL and pay-TV channel Premiere and, eventually, becoming a director – for sportscasts, of course. He remained true to his main field of interest, only now from behind the camera and in slow motion.
In 2011, a position as a teacher at the German school in Lima, Peru, led him to move to South America. When there was a discussion meeting in Lima in 2016 that included a contemporary witness’s presentation on "escaping the republic", he deliberately stayed away so as not to reopen old wounds.
Over the course of subsequent conversations with contemporary witnesses, however, he changed his mind and is now very enthusiastic about conveying his story to young people.