Posted on



BBC – The teenager who smuggled computers through the Iron Curtain

  • As communism was collapsing across eastern Europe in 1989, an 18-year-old Tomasz Czechowicz was combining partying with running an illicit business. And doing a lot of long-distance driving.

A young Tomasz Czechowicz
A young Tomasz Czechowicz was no stranger to driving a long way

A keen computer enthusiast and electronics student, Mr Czechowicz realised that there was a huge pent-up demand in Poland for personal computers. But because of the communist regime, there were hardly any to buy.

So Mr Czechowicz, who lived in the south-western Polish city of Wroclaw, hatched a plan to start smuggling computers from the then West Germany.

First thing every Saturday morning, he would drive into East Germany, taking a four-hour car trip to the then still-divided Berlin, before sneaking into West Berlin, which was an exclave of West Germany.

Now 45, and one of Poland’s richest businessmen, he says: “I went with my mate in a battered old Maluch [Fiat 126], and we had to drive around Berlin to get in from the western side.”

Did you like this article?

Then you should also check out my books!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.