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Helmut Haselberger (1942) - Biography

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We were on the edge of the world

Helmut Haselberger was born in 1942 in Finsterau, where he still lives with his wife. They have five children. Finsterau is a village in the municipality of Mauth away in the Bavarian Forest, four kilometers away from the Bavarian-Bohemian border.

His family owned a medium-sized farmstead and was engaged in agriculture. After finishing school, Haselberger served for four years as a part-time soldier and during this period, he was trained as a radio and television technician. After having worked in Passau and Freyung, he got a job with the Röderstein Company in Freyung and worked there till 1993. Since 1977, he’s been living in his parents’ home in Finsterau where he’s been running a small farm and renting apartments to vacationers. Since the 1990s, he’s been also working as a tour guide for the Bavarian Forest National Park.

Haselberger’s paternal family originally comes from Hüttl/Chalupky on the Bohemian side of the border, just a few kilometers away from Finsterau. His father married a girl from Finsterau and moved there before the end of the war. His family followed him to Finsterau after the end of World War II and most of them stayed there.

In the era of the Cold War, Haselberger perceived Finsterau to be the edge of the world. From there, you could only go in one direction, namely to the west. He tells a story about a test of courage from his schoolboy-times, in which the challenge was to cross the border in the forest. At the so-called “green border”, he met with Czechoslovak border guards with whom his uncle exchanged cigarettes. And in Bohemia, he met with his relatives from the GDR, who were prevented from entering into the Federal Republic of Germany. Haselberger learned about the opening of the border from his son, who surprisingly brought him a beer from Kvilda one evening. Since then, he’s gathered numerous contacts on the Bohemian side of the border. Currently, he’s attending a Czech language course and as a tour guide of the Bavarian National Park, he specializes on cross-border trips.

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