I remember the days leading up to the big day that was to re-unite Germany. I was allowed to watch the news on television, images of countless demonstrators flickering on the black and white TV, politicians were talking about issues not entirely clear to my nine year old self, but it was exciting, something big was going to happen…
It was Sunday after the wall came down, a clear sunny autumn day in Kassel. The country was celebrating, people were curious, anxious, happy to be united with loved one’s all at the same time. On that Sunday the shops in Kassel’s centre were going to be open, to allow people from the east of Germany on their first shopping spree.
My mother decided we should go to the centre and be amongst the people, so off we went and mixed with the crowd….
The streets were filled with Trabi’s, as we call the Trabant car, and I don’t remember Kassel ever being that busy after that Sunday. People would just talk to each other on the street, and this is how we met a young brother and sister, who we invited for coffee. I don’t remember where they came from, but I do remember the sweets they send us a couple of weeks later, they tasted of cardboard…
A few years earlier, in 1985 my grandmother had let the ground floor flat in her house to a couple from East Germany, and I remember being told that they had to leave everything behind and could never go back. They had a daughter they were re-united with in 1989.
And then my grandfather’s cousin suddenly appeared at his birthday parties, and slowly I grasped the impact this devision had, not only on the country, but on people in my immediate surrounding.
A friend who is my age, but grew up in the east of Germany still remembers eating his first banana, something most northern Europeans born in 1980 would never remember.
They even had a saying related to it, when there was a big crowd of people somewhere they would say: “are they selling Bananas there?”
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