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I am a refugee from the former East Germany. My parents and I escaped, but my sister and her family remained. My sister's husband, a prominent physician, felt he owed it to his patients to remain. Allowed to return to my home town to visit my sister, I was able to smuggle in countless forbidden items. My sister's home was becoming a central meeting place for like-minded friends - musicians, actors, writers, etc. - all looking for honest conversation, news from the West, forbidden literature. I brought in books, magazines, western currency, medications for my brother-in-law's practice and thankfully remained undetected year after year.
As I was writing my thesis on a prominent East German writer in 1978, I was able to visit him and pursue my research. His house was already under surveillance, and after my visit with him, I left with the 'proper' Stasi escort who followed me for days.
In August of 1989, my American fiancé and I decided to get married in my hometown in E.G. After visa and other bureaucratic matters had been obtained, we drove from W.G. to E.G. Arriving at the border the usual ordeal took place. Papers, passports, get out of the car, papers, payment of daily quota for stay in E.G., lift out back seat, search under the cars, being asked endless questions designed to intimidate. As they approached the car in which my baby grandson was sleeping on the back seat, I told the border guards not to disturb the baby. The baby had to be taken out anyway, the back seat was dismantled, the inside of each car door was unscrewed, and so on. However, the border guards' efforts didn't seem as intimidating this time. Everyone felt a big change coming.
I have many hair-raising accounts of similar border crossings from 1961 until 1989. They are also part of a book I am writing. I am currently writing my memoir, an account of one refugee family (my mother, father and me) as seen through the eyes of a child. The memoir depicts the child's life before fleeing, the flight itself, and one refugee family's attempt to find a new life in western Germany.
I am looking forward to tuning in more often to other topics, and I commend your staff on how very intelligently and sensitively they dealt with today's topic.
Thank you for what you do for our community.
posted 3 years, 6 months ago
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