Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Think, remember

I've been fascinated by our host's stories of living in the DDR before German Reunification. Last night at dinner we ate some apples and oranges with our meal. Annette-Mum told us that she remembers when they finally were able to have apples year round and what a treat it was.

She said that if you ever saw a big line extended out the doors of the market, you knew that something good must be inside. Once she walked past some such line and knew that people must be waiting for something special. She got in the back of the queue. She was pregnant with her first daughter at the time, and a woman who spotted her ripening belly suggested she skip the line and head to the front. No one would balk at a pregnant woman who didn't want to stand. Once at the head of the line, she saw what everyone was waiting for: bananas. She was the second to last person to get her allotted three. When they announced the bananas were gone, she heard the uproar behind. She whirled around, marched to the counter and threw them back down. She said she just couldn't buy them. She didn't want to be the one to take the last of the prized fruit.

She said that people often glamorize the DDR times. "Everyone was more friendly," they say.  But when she's faced by people who talk about the loveliness of East Germany under Soviet command, she says she wants to tell them, Don't you remember it? Not just that you were young, or that you were healthy, or that you had friends. Think, really remember. Do you remember what it really was like?

She says she doesn't want to pretend that it never happened. She lost a part of herself too when reunification happened. Things happened so quickly, she told us. But she said she would never want to go back. There's too much goodness around.

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