Frederic PryorFor more than half a century, Frederic Pryor has been doing his best to forget about his experiences in East Germany. Then along came Bridge of Spiesa film directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks, which was released to critical acclaim on Friday. But he is pryor east german prisoner throughout the film, which pryor east german prisoner his Swarthmore low testosterone hair loss female in the credits. Pryor first heard about the film from his son during the summer. Speaking in his office on Monday morning, between phone calls from reporters from far and wide, Pryor shared his perspective on the film and set the record straight on his real-life experiences.
Frederic Pryor - Wikipedia
For more than half a century, Frederic Pryor has been doing his best to forget about his experiences in East Germany. Then along came Bridge of Spies , a film directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks, which was released to critical acclaim on Friday. But he is referenced throughout the film, which cites his Swarthmore affiliation in the credits.
Pryor first heard about the film from his son during the summer. Speaking in his office on Monday morning, between phone calls from reporters from far and wide, Pryor shared his perspective on the film and set the record straight on his real-life experiences. I was in Denmark on vacation, and I came back after it had been up for a couple days. I decided to return to East Berlin, just once, to attend to three things. One, to hear a speech by Walter Ulbricht [the head of the Communist Party], justifying why the wall went up.
Two, to visit the sister of a friend of mine to see if she had any messages for me, since communications [between east and west] had been cut. But what she failed to tell me was that the woman had fled to the west in some sort of passport manipulation. The Stasi were staking out her apartment to catch anyone coming to get her stuff. They brought me to the police station. When they found my dissertation, they gasped and sent me to prison.
There I remained for almost half a year. I lived from day to day. I knew nothing about the negotiation process to get me out. Letters sent to me, I never got. Christmas packages from my parents, food, I never got them. I was cut off from all communication. They interrogated me every day for four and a half months. Good practice for your German, by the way. To show you how detailed their interrogation was, I had about 50 slips of paper on me.
One was my Yale library card. Finally, I remembered I was late in paying my tuition and that the library only allowed me to go to the economic study room to read books I was assigned. Once I told them about it, that was it. But it took a week. They let me read books. A guy would come around with a basket of them. I can still remember the first one that I read, a Socialist realism novel translated from Russian called Cement.
Since it was the first book I had read in four-and-a-half months, I enjoyed it enormously. No, that was the biggest error.
I had been prepared for my release about two days before it occurred. When my lawyer drove me to Checkpoint Charlie, they had us sit there for half an hour. The East Germans deliberately delayed the exchange of Powers and Abel, who were not supposed to be exchanged until after I was released. So I sat there until they finally escorted me to the border.
About two days before, they started doing special things for me. God knows what was going through their minds. But I slept soundly.
The portrayal of Wolfgang Vogel, my East German lawyer who was negotiating the communist side, was unfair. They made him out to be a total apparatchik, and one of the villains. He was a quiet, well-spoken man. The movie made it out to be a political thing, him trying to get the U.
But it was more a waiting game the East Germans played to show the Russians they had the upper hand. Vogel was actually a very nice guy, whom I later visited several times. My dissertation had been accepted, so it had no impact on my academic career. But they refused to hire anyone to represent them abroad who had been arrested for espionage.
So I went into industry. I had consulted for GM the summer before, so I asked them about a job. In fact, I think the students kind of got a kick out of having an ex-con teaching them. A highlight was that my cellmate was reporting everything we spoke about. Every time I was interrogated, though, he went the Stasi office to dictate what we had talked about the previous day. One of the things I found out was that an American woman told the Stasi that I was well known to be in the CIA, just to get in their good graces and keep herself out of trouble.
They were delighted to hear that and tried to squeeze more out of me, but what could I say? I never even heard of this woman. But I had no particular feelings, one way or the other. These events happened more than 50 years ago. In other words, no big deal. Skip to main content.