Archive for January, 2013



13. August 1961

[Memories of the DDR]

 Walter Ulbricht (Leipzig, 30 June 1893 – Groß Dölln, 1 August 1973), German communist politician. He played a leading role in the creation of the Weimar-era Communist Party of Germany (KPD) and later (spending years in exile in the Soviet Union) in the early development and establishment of East Germany (the German Democratic Republic). “Espousing the motto ‘it must look democratic but we must control everything’, he set about establishing an SED dictatorship.”[1] He was first secretary of the Socialist Unity Party, and as such the actual leader of East Germany, from 1950 to 1971. From President Wilhelm Pieck‘s death in 1960 he was also the East German head of state until his own death in 1973. (partially from Wikipedia). Ulbricht’s most famous statement: “Niemand hat die Absicht, eine Mauer zu errichten.”

Im Januar 1961 – vor dem Bau der Mauer – war ich mit meiner Freundin (einer Berlinerin) auf dem Wege von Braunschweig nach West Berlin, per Zug. [NOTE.The West Sektor was formally established on 1 July 1945 defining the boundary between the Western and Soviet occupation zones of Germany. On the eastern side, it was made one of the world’s most heavily fortified frontiers, defined by a continuous line of high metal fences and walls, barbed wire, alarms, anti-vehicle ditches, watchtowers, automatic booby traps and minefields. It was patrolled by 50,000 armed GDR guards who faced tens of thousands of West German, British and U.S. guards and soldiers.]

Wie gesagt: wir fuhren bei Zug. Zu dieser Zeit war ich als Informations Spezialist tätig bei dem Deutschen Luft- und Raumfahrt Zentrum, DFLR, Waggum bei Braunschweig [] .

Mit dem Zug nach West Berlin zu fahren bedeutete, durch den Ostsektor zu fahren, um in den Westen zu kommen. Zu diesem Zwecke wurden Spezialzüge gebraucht, die mit schweren Stahlplatten auf Bodennähe versehen waren, damit niemand sich da unter hängen konnte, um aus dem Osten zu entkommen. Nahe der Grenze hielt der Zug, um VoPo’s (Volkspolizisten) durchzulassen zur Kontrolle von Reisenden. Das Beste war, sich klein zu machen. Ich hatte zur Vorsorge alle Ausweise von der DFLR zurückgelassen und wies mich als simple Sekretärin aus. Keinen Augen Kontakt mit den VoPo’s zu machen war wichtig. Die waren alle schwer bewaffnet.


January 1961 we took the train from Braunschweig to Berlin, West Sector. Those were special trains with heavy metal grates fastened underneath to prevent East Germans to escape by laying underneath. (like the old Wild West.) At the border, trains were stopped, passengers checked by heavily armed VoPo’s.

The Berlin Wall – die MAUER, wurde 1961 errichtet und war am 13. August 1961 fertig. Im August war ich schon in München. Habe dort gearbeitet. Wegen der schweren Aggressionen der Sowjet Union – die täglich mit Jets über Berlin flogen, die Schallmauer durchbrachen – flohen viele Berliner in andere Städte, besonders auch München.

[More re. Stasi, Vopo, Berlin Wall in a future post]





Image Although I feel for those poor souls in Europe, and their snow and cold troubles, I have to admit what comes in mind is: “There is no such thing as cold weather, there are only wrong clothes.” (As we always say here in Canada where snow and cold can occasionally last from between September and June in certain areas, especially Alberta.).In Alberta, the last heavy blizzard usually arrives in May each year. Despite, Alberta is one of the most beautiful Western provinces. No wonder that many movies – Westerns – are made right there.

For over 25 years I lived in the Rocky Mountain Foothills, west of Calgary.

Remembering the winter of 1997 – minus 50 degrees Celsius for a week. I had a ranch and horses, and they had to be fed. Getup at 5 in the morning, go out there with heavy clothing, and lug some hay bales around to the guys.

I also recall the many months I had to work up north on a computer contract, travelling 400 km one way between southwest of Calgary and downtown Edmonton. There were times I saw dozens of cars in the ditches, upside down and inside out, myself almost the only person on the highway – driving slow, slow (30 km/hour) to get there.

Then again we also had good times. When still living in the midst of the Kananaskis Country southwest of Calgary (best ski areas around), we often went out with the horses, wearing very heavy clothes when riding, then stopped somewhere, made a fire, and had something to eat and drink.

One can adjust to the situation. One can also find it good exercise to have to dig out a car, or shovel snow.

Since 2002 I am living in Victoria, Vancouver Island, Canada’s Pacific west coast, milder weather. Sometimes even miss the snow.