continued from 10/16...
Oh, yes, I left off with those "big guns". To girls who had never seen a real gun up close and personal, it was a lot to take in all at once. The soldiers weren't shouting or speaking for that matter. They were completely bewildered and looked at us then at each other to confirm that they were actually seeing these three alien beings. It was clear that we had awakened them and it was also clear that none of them had ever experienced anything quite like this. They would look at us then behind us, then ahead of us. It was as if they were trying to locate the spaceship from whence we came. After all, we were speaking in a foreign language and fairly animated as only teenage girls can be.
We did know how to say fork, knife, spoon and plate in German but we were very hard pressed to carry on a conversation. I pointed to my shopping bag and asked if I could get something in it. From all the movies I saw, I expected them to grab it from me and do an immediate search. Instead, one the the soldiers nodded.
I pulled out our 3 passports and said in my very best Deutsch, "Ve from Vest" and I used my hands to point to the other side of The Wall.
"Ve go home now. Okay?"
"Nein" he said. "Ve Ost."
Yes, we knew this was East, but wasn't there a door going back to the West somewhere. Surely, they had to go over once in awhile. Didn't they? This is what is clearly known as "unclear on the concept".
They opened our passports and looked at our photos and tried to guess which was which. We looked nothing like our passports at that late hour with our long hair stuffed into caps. They looked no different than boys our age back home who were trying to figure out which one they wanted to dance with. After some discussion, which was meaningless to us, they pocketed the passports and pointed their guns for us to walk in an easterly direction. Someone brought out a flashlight and we seemed to be on the march through the woods with one soldier leading the way and the rest strategically planted around and behind us to deter us from escape. I don't remember any talking during that long walk.
As we continued our march which seemed to be no more than thirty minutes or so, I had an uneasy feeling of being in the woods with six men who carried guns. Leigh and Wendy didn't seem excited about it either and without discussing it, I'm sure we were having individual hallucinations of what might happen to us. Not once, however, did any of the six soldiers search us or even touch us, for that matter. There is no other way to describe it, but strangely, under the circumstances, our captors were actually polite.
Though the walk through the dark woods was illuminated by flashlights, we could see through the trees ahead at what seemed to be city lights. As we approached an embankment, we could see that we were on a bluff looking down on a military camp. There were tents and barracks as far as the eye could see. It was probably around 10 PM but there seemed to be quite a bit of activity with military vehicles and canvas-covered trucks. We were taken to a small building and the sparse room had a few chairs and an old wooden desk with a strange looking telephone without dials. Our captors escorted us in, pointed to the empty chairs and left without a word, locking us in.
Before long, an officer entered the room and tried to have a conversation with us. We couldn't answer any of this questions. We kept saying "Ve Vest from Canada", but he didn't seem to get it. After uttering several sentences which fell on our deaf ears, he had to be frustrated. Finally, he smiled and said "tanzen?" We looked at each other and being frequent visitors of The Reeperbahn, we thought he said "dancing?". He said it again. Then he held up his arms and waltzed a few paces, saying "tanzen?" We had no idea what to make of that. Were we going to be sold off as dancing girls? What on earth did he mean? Without further adieu, he bowed and left us feeling somewhat bewildered.
Within minutes, three very young guards escorted us out of the room and helped us into the back of a canvas-covered truck. They had trained their guns on us as all six of us took our places on benches. We asked where we were going but either they didn't understand or they weren't at liberty to say. We noticed that they had our passports.
Soon after we pulled out, one of the guards said in broken English, "We will put the guns down now, do not be afraid, we are going to another camp where you will be questioned". Then they opened the passports and again, tried to identify who was who. We talked about Elvis and The Beatles and Gerhardt, our translator would tell the other guards what we had said. I remember lots of giggling. Apparently, East Germans were not as humorless as we had believed. Gerhardt said we would be driving for the better part of an hour.
As we approached our destination, Gerhardt said "We will be pointing our guns again but do not be afraid." So we weren't. We jumped down from the truck and waited for someone to come and give us instructions. On one side of the street was a one story building and on the other was a four story brick building that reminded me of my old grade school. We were directed to the smaller buiilding. Strange building. After we entered, we walked down a circular flight of stairs into a basement where the light came on. It was a military prison with filthy mattresses on the floor, cobwebs, rats and God knows what else. A cell door opened and the guard, with a flourish said "Bitte" (please) which seemed a bit out of place. I pointed to the filth and vermin, crossed my arms and said "Nein". All three of us were choking back tears of remorse at having taken on this adventure. This is not the way it was supposed to end. Again, with the same politeness as a waiter showing one to a table, said "Bitte".
to be continued...