Thursday, January 12, 1984

Nothing happens. Many hours of brutal silence. Doubts arise. Why did I do this to myself? Exponential drift into the past – spring 1983 …

 “You know you’re not allowed to get in?”. The driver calls me with formal salutations, which is rare.

“You know you’re not allowed to stop?” I counter and get in.

Somewhere near Berlin on the way from Halle to Greifswald. The Western car looks like a spaceship. The huge dashboard is fitted with countless displays, lights and controls. When I pull the door shut, there is a slight pressure on my ears. Virtually no noise when starting off. Then a gentle glide to the softest music. Without my head between my knees. But plenty of space in front.

“What would you do if I were from the Stasi?” asks the driver.

“Then I wouldn’t have gotten in,” I replied.

“What gave me away?”

Simply everything. Besides, there’s a difference between chatting up Western cars at a rest stop and holding my thumb up to the wind in the twilight off the highway. Even the Stasi would understand if I got out of the car again.

“Do you want to get out?”

“Not yet. I’ve been on the road too long for that. Besides, it’s getting dark. And I’m cold.”

“Where are you going?”

“To Greifswald.”

“On foot?”. 

Hitchhiking from Halle to the Michendorf rest stop is usually pretty quick. Then I have to decide where to spend the night if I can’t find anyone driving around Berlin. The colder the evening, the sooner I prefer to walk to the next station and take the S-Bahn to Oranienburg. From there, I continue on the F96 in two or three stages and usually on foot through Neubrandenburg or Neustrelitz.

Why not take the train the whole way? Only when it’s really cold. Otherwise I prefer to hitchhike. It’s cheaper. And it gives me a feeling of freedom.

What are you doing in Greifswald? An apprenticeship. Not in the army? If, then as a construction soldier. Or as a conscientious objector in jail. I’d rather sit two years than standing 18 months on the wrong side. Tense silence.

Ever thought about running away to the West? All the time, since I was twelve.

How are you going to do that? Applying to leave the country takes forever. The green border is too vague. The Baltic Sea is too cold. And crossing the wall usually ends fatally. All that remains is to hope for a favorable opportunity, I summarize my abandoned plans.

If I end up in prison for political reasons and the right people in the West find out about it, I have a good chance of being ransomed sooner or later, he says. I’ve heard about that before. But nobody knows for sure.

I get off at Potsdam station. Now I’m sitting here. Waiting for something to happen. 𝓣𝓸 𝓑𝓮 𝓒𝓸𝓷𝓽𝓲𝓷𝓾𝓮𝓭

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