continued from 10/25...
Under no circumstances was I planning on spending even one night in an East German prison. They were going to have to "Rodney King" me to get me into that cell. Fortunately, for us, the guard most likely had never encountered 3 unarmed Canadian girls and seemed to be at a loss as to what he should do with us. His pleas and offers of "bitte" didn't do the trick for us and left this poor man in a bit of a quandry. He made a phone call and escorted us back up the stairs and across the street to the "other" building.
It was an administration building of sorts and looked even more like my elementary school on the inside. No question that it had lead-based paint on those walls. We were delivered into a room with a very worn leather couch and a TV which was tuned into the Olympics in Mexico where we watched the Equestrian events. Soon after we had settled in, someone brought us a tray with hot tea and ham sandwiches. It had seemed like days since we had eaten but in actuality it was probably only 7 or 8 hours since we had left the comfort of the West.
A young soldier came into the room and motioned for us to follow him. We were taken to another room which seemed a bit more ominous and I knew our Olympic viewing had come to an end. Again, it looked a bit like a classroom with a long table at the front of the room and a map behind it. We were seated at an opposing desk with three chairs and three military men, with lots of medals on their uniforms were facing us. They looked to be my father's age and I couldn't help but wonder where they were during the War. Were they former Nazis and what were they up to back in the early 40's? I shuddered to think.
It had been established that none of them spoke English and I wasn't quite sure how this interrogation was going to proceed. We were in that room for the better part of two hours and odd as it may seem, we were never at a loss for words (them or us) and we communicated perfectly. They gave us paper and pencils and we drew diagrams of how we left the West and travelled to the East. We showed them how we climbed over The Wall. We told them that it took us about 10 minutes from beginning to end. They said that we were "Artists". It took a professional approximately 7 minutes. I told them about the dogs. They wanted to know if I had been bitten. They examined my hand and saw a small slice I had gotten from the barbed wire and sent in a medic to give me a tetanus shot. We asked if they had a cigarette machine--teenagers don't change much from generation to generation. We produced our Deutsche Marks and while they all looked at them and passed the notes back and forth, they returned them to us. They also produced cigarettes on the order of Lucky Strikes.
They asked us to point out where we were from in Canada. They wanted to know why we had done what we had done and why hadn't we gone to Berlin. We told them that we wanted to see the real East Germany, not a tourist destination and besides, we didn't have enough money to get there and back. Each man said only one sentence each in English. The first one said "Three Blind Mice", the next one said "Kiss Me Kate" and the third said "It's a Long Way to Tipperary". As strange as it may seem, I remember that we laughed often and so did they. I actually think they were enjoying themselves. Think about it. We were in the middle of nowhere and I'm sure not much happened in that particular neck of the woods. We were naive young girls from an alien country and were the Valley Girls of our time. I'm sure it was dinner conversation for a long time to come.
They said that if we wanted to see East Germany, we would have to travel to Berlin. We asked if we could go home. They said that this was no longer a military matter and that we were going to be turned over to the local police. I still remember that they smiled and waved after dropping us off at the police station. As we watched them go, we could see them shaking their heads and laughing at the same time. I was beginning to think that we might be able to lend a hand with this Cold War problem. Ever the optimist!
The policeman who held our passports, walked us out of the station and down a dark alley until we came to a brownstone house. He had a key and unlocked the door and motioned for us to be quiet, there were people sleeping. We followed him upstairs on tiptoes where he guided us to a bedroom with a very comfy bed beckoning to us. He said "Lock your door, there is a man across the hall. Breakfast is a 8 AM downstairs. I have your passports. You can come back to the police station for them in the morning." We were close. What he actually said was "Lock your door, there is a man across the hall. Breakfast is at 8 AM. I have your passports at the police station. Don't call us, we'll call you".
to be continued...