I have already reported under Art News. What is new in the Programme is the Concert, a Piano Recital with Corinna Simon with works of famous West and East German composers, all organised to underline the importance of the Berlin Day of Peace.
I would like to add for the occasion a letter I received from a friend and I think we should all know about it. Read the complete article under Heidi's latest adventures "Who is behind ...."
Today, when I think back, today, 20 years after the Fall of the Wall – I see my wavering experiences, hardships and memories in a softer light, a great chance for me to mature and develop further.
Can anyone imagine the deep pleasure a human being can feel when a life-long dream comes true? The dream to see the wall come down and to travel freely, for example (In those days I undertook many journeys with my little son, often under most primitive circumstances as we lacked the funds, but that was of no importance to us, it was the experience that counted..
You have asked me what my experiences in North Cyprus have to do with my life in the German Democratic Republic? I can only repeat the views, feelings I had, subjectively. So many things in North Cyprus reminded me of the GDR, But you must consider, so shortly after the fall of the wall, that I had not yet overcome remnants of that old life, feelings such as skepticism, insecurity, angst, dependence and caution .
Everything in the German Democratic Republic was controlled, so it seemed. Most of us have adapted – forcibly – to a life in the GDR prison. We had learnt to speak with two tongues and two faces. A nightmare for me when I think back. On the other hand there was no unemployment – except for some rare cases – every single woman was working, she had to as money was never enough. Men contributed their share to housework, also here there were exemptions to the rule. Families had the right of free admittance for their children to kindergarten and crèches. What I want to say by that that: we did not starve, and we had an affordable place to live in. The rents to pay were ridiculously low which was not astonishing considering the condition the houses were in. However, all the things we truly wanted were hardly to get. Thus we develoved a fantastic sense for improvising. Again and again. A discipline we were world best in.
We were not free, that was it. We were imprisoned, controlled and patronized. Which did not remain without consequences. Nobody can endure this kind of life forever. Nor did we.
In the summer of 1989 the word went around: „The last one leaving switches the light off!“ People left evacuating the country. Friends left for the West. When Foreign Minister Genscher spoke in September 89 from the balcony of the Embassy in Prague I cried from all my heart. When in October our people were beaten up in the streets of Berlin, I was beside me with frustration and anger. Now, even the most hard headed followers of yesterday must have realized what this meant.
I will never forget the moment when Gorbatschov came to Berlin for the 40th birthday of the German Democratic Republic and we were following every word he said and the famous phrase “Life will punish the one who comes too late!” I treasure the memory of this day and will never forget it.
It was the 4th of November 1989, when for the first time in the history of the GDR a demonstration not controlled by the state took place on the Alexanderplatz in Berlin. I could not stop crying not even knowing whether it was for my little son being seriously ill or from sympathy for the demonstration which was organized by various artists and art associations.
Apart from that, the years between 1989 and end of 1992, when the GDR Broadcasting was still functioning , were the most exciting for me and my colleagues. Never have we been so free, free to act, even more so than the so-called West broadcasting stations. And I am in the position to judge it as I was working for Sender Freies Berlin in the ten years that followed in various departments.
The more it was shocking to see how the GDR Broadcasting affair was treated by the end of 1991and I and many of my colleagues lost their jobs (I was not a party member nor was I ever in the State Security Department) but I had a small son I had to care for myself. I loved my work at the Broadcasting station and when all ended I had the feeling as if they had cut my throat. It was for some of my colleagues the end of their life and many became seriously ill.
All of a sudden I was in a foreign country, although still on the same ground and still speaking the same language. For the first time in my life I was all by myself, left alone with my small son, a woman of 40 without a job. On top of it, I and my son had a bad accident. The laws of the old GDR were no longer valid and the new ones were not yet functioning. Nobody took over any responsibility for us and our situation, and we found ourselves in a lawless chaotic situation.
I did not know where to turn to and to save myself from desolation I started reading psychological books, sort of life-saving books taking the role of partners I did not have. But I never gave up, even though I was torn between hope and disappointment over the years that followed and had a severe break-down in 2001. I am sure that I owe that to my son. For him I had to be strong.
However, although I would never have back the old social system of the GDR, I must make it clear that not all of it was bad, it was my life over 40 years. It makes me very angry to hear comments condemning it all. It was and sill is part of my life.
Mrs Trautmann, you can believe me, the life I led in the German Democratic Republic left me most sensitized and it taught me to read between the lines and see behind the images.
I don’t want to forget to mention: All my life in the GDR I have tried and used possibilities to travel and see parts of the world which were open to me, flying or driving. Once, I even sold my washing machine to get the money for a boat trip down the Wolga.
Copyright Heidi Trautmann 2009