4Communism-Hating Teens Murder Their Way to Freedom
What if there's not just one but two borders separating you from freedom? With a few hundred miles of enemy territory in between and police, state security and two goddamn armies trying to stop you?
You could ask the Masin brothers -- they walked right through that shit. Ctirad and Josef Masin started on the Czech government's "good kids" list at the ages of 13 and 15 by receiving medals for fighting the Nazis in World War II, just like their dad had done.
Get a mouthful of that, Eagle Scouts.
When they realized the ruling communists were little better than the Nazis, they started a resistance group. And we're not talking about the usual ways teenagers revolt, like getting a piercing or two: We're talking about twice violently raiding police stations to steal guns and ammo.
In 1953, the group decided it was time to get the hell out. Now, getting out of communist territory meant they had to get first across the Czech border, then across East Germany into West Germany.
They also raided a few hair gel factories along the way.
They started their push toward the border 150 miles away. Injuring or killing people who got in their way, the two brothers and three others sneaked across the border and hiked through the forests. When they tried to buy train tickets in Germany, the sales staff was suspicious and reported them to the police. The police raided the train station, which was only a minor speed bump in their plans -- the brothers and their band shot their way out.
The East German paramilitary soon realized they needed help from locally stationed Soviet troops to take the brothers down. Eventually, at least 5,000 men were involved, three of whom were gunned down during the chase west. The group was even encircled some 60 miles outside of Berlin. And once again, the ragtag group of Czechs broke out.
Eventually the three remaining fugitives made it to the West, one by suspending himself from a subway car's undercarriage.
Which was probably much cleaner than a subway car's interior.
Where did the brothers end up? The one place where their talents and violent hatred of communism were truly honored: Fort Bragg. That's right -- they joined the U.S. Special Forces.
3Gunther "The Ocean Walker" Pluschow
As Cracked has previously explained, flying a plane during World War I was about as safe and as pleasant as piloting a chest of drawers down a mine shaft.
So German pilot Gunther Pluschow's situation was already not the best. But then he and the other Germans in the Chinese city of Tsingtao were surrounded by British forces who wanted the city for themselves. The city was about to fall when Pluschow was given a bag full of secret documents and told to fly his already badly damaged plane through a wall of anti-aircraft fire and over countryside swarming with enemy troops. So, yeah, his chances weren't good.
But Pluschow somehow avoided death and flew 155 miles before mercifully crash-landing in a rice paddy. After setting his plane on fire (though there is a good chance that thing was on fire long before it landed, if our knowledge of early military aviation is anything to go on), he set off on foot.
For freaking Germany. He was in China.
Marco Polo ain't shit.
He made it to the nearest Chinese town. Then, after repeated close calls with pursuing officials, he sailed to the Chinese capital, Nanking. There, he talked a woman into getting him a Swiss passport and a ticket ... to San Francisco.
Having made it to the other side of the planet, but still not all that close to Germany, he and his secret documents entered the USA (and this was at a time when illegal immigration was even more illegal than it is now). By now a lot of people were looking for him, as his travels seemed suspicious even to his own government. He dodged his pursuers and took a train to New York. He then boarded a boat headed for neutral Italy. Pluschow probably thought he was home free.
That thought evaporated when the ship unexpectedly sailed into dock at Gibraltar. He was arrested by the (possibly snooty) British officials and set to a POW camp at Donnington, in the south of England.
They had to add a whole extra guard shift to keep watch over his jawline.
Well, hell, that actually got him closer to home than he'd ever been -- the English Channel had to have looked like a trickling stream to the man. Needless to say, he escaped (the only German to do so in the whole of World War I) and boarded a final ship to Holland. Then it was simply a matter of sneaking across the Dutch-German border, having taken such a roundabout trip home that he must have felt like he booked the tickets on Orbitz.