The GDR Government Air Squadron

Dirk Kuelow | Juergen Ast

Juergen Ast

Commissioning Editor:
Jens Stubenrauch


astfilm productions | for RBB

The "Air Force One" of the GDR - till today an unknown and untold story full of secrets. A story expanding from Bombay to Budapest, from Mexico City to Madrid, and from New York to Nairobi. Medicine, Money, Weapons, Wheat, Refugees, Arafat or Ortega, the GDR Government Air Squadron was responsible for the transport of all kind of cargo and passengers. But most of the time Ulbricht, Honecker & Co. were the guests on board. The official military name: "Air Transport Squadron 44", the so called "TG 44", the elite-force of the GDR Army for "special transport operations" by air. They operated worldwide, went to Moscow in uniform, and in civilian clothes to Bonn.

For the first time the "red Prussians of the air" talk about unknown, dramatic, funny and sometimes breathtaking stories. They carried amounts of up to 30.000 US Dollars in cash with them, because in may countries the necessary refueling was only possible with sufficient cash. Every Pilot had his own secret place to stash the money, or carried it on his body, to avoid any kind of trouble.

The "Air Force One" of the GDR was established in 1957. At the beginning in the 60's, mostly socialistic States became the destination for those official flights from the GDR. Later in the 70's, when the GDR was more and more recognized, they expanded the flight-routes rapidly. The "TG 44" unit grew to a mid-sized and secret airline with 20 airplanes and over one thousand employees. They were kept on duty during the "time of change". Only in 1992 the force was dismantled. A few of the unit were employed by the German Federal Armed Forces, others found a new job in civil-Aviation.

Honecker's "Air Force One" - a film telling the story of unusual lifelines: How did you become a member of the "TG 44"? How tough was the job being on duty 24/7? What of the elite-unit's glory is left? Interviews, original film-footage, many undisclosed documents and file-material permit "a look behind the mirror" on the secrets of the "Air Force One" of the GDR.