Post by patricklondon on Apr 24, 2013 13:41:44 GMT
Goodness, this brings back memories. I went to East Germany for three weeks in 1969 when I was studying German at university (they gave me some money to go and travel, so I thought I'd better do something slightly out of the ordinary). I was allowed to go and stay in youth hostels, though I naturally assumed any German sharing my room was probably going to make some report on me.
I know I scanned the photos I took, though by today's standards they're remarkably few and remarkably uninformative. By the time I went back into East Berlin on a wet November Sunday (as it happens almost exactly a year before the Wall finally fell) it was clear things really couldn't last much longer, but in 1969 East Germany did give the impression of somewhere stable and on the up, if still some years behind the West in overall prosperity.
Then Vopos (Volkspolizei) walked over the top of the train cars, checked underneath too -- just to make sure nobody was trying to sneak into East Germany.
That's interesting, Bjd. One always thinks of people trying to get into the west, but surely there were people who were desperate to get back to family in the east.
It was the official line that it was there to keep out spies and saboteurs from the west, so presumably they went through the motions of showing that they did the same checks on the way in as on the way out. If you wanted to get in for family reasons, they were quite keen to welcome you in (on the usual financial terms) once West and East Germany were formally talking to each other. If they could make some sort of political propaganda out of it, they were even more welcoming.