Mario Thom was born in 1968 to a musician and a singer. Both his mother and father had visas to travel to the West periodically, so Thom had the same benefits as his parents.
In November 1986, Thom left Berlin for Hungary without a visa. His planned destination was Austria. From Czechoslovakia, Thom swam across the Hungarian Danube but was arrested there. He was held in custody at a detainment centre at Keibelstraße. One year later, he was released to the FRG as part of a prisoner ransom.
Thom has worked as a visiting speaker at the memorial since 2010.