We women have a lot to learn about simplifying our lives. We have to decide what is important and then move along at a pace that is comfortable for us. We have to develop the maturity to stop trying to prove something. We have to learn to be content with what we are." ~Marjorie Pay Hinckley~

Loehrmann Family Favorite Recipes

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Berlin Wall: Lesson in Unity

In 1961 a prominent leader in the East side of Germany claimed, " we have no intention of building a wall."

By the next month it was under construction.

From 1961-1963 nobody was allowed to cross into or out of the East. The communist side, set up after WW2 in 1949, had already lost over 200,000 workers, and more were leaving in droves, unsatisfied with the life that communism was providing.

As we spent time at a playground the evening of the Wall visit, I met a lady named Erdmutha, who was probably in her 30s. In talking I came to find out that she had grown up behind the Wall. Her parents were both preachers in the protestant church. She said they had no desire to flee since the entire family was in East Germany, and since they also felt it was their mission to stay there as a support to the people, being preachers and all. She explained that they had enough, but options were just limited, such as one brand of toilet paper. It wasn't like in Poland where shelves were sometimes empty and people were starving.

The only thing she could think of that she had very seldom was oranges. Around Christmas a store would have them, and there would be long lines to purchase the one allowed bag of oranges per family. 

Her parents weren't keen on the ideology, and chose to have their children abstain from participating in the Pioneer group, which was like scouts, with uniforms, and even a bit militaristic at times, and always heavy on the ideology. 

Something to note is that without joining the Pioneer group, a child could not take the Abitur exam to go to university, therefore forfitting chances of higher education and a good job later. She said her mother was wracked with guilt about limiting the future opportunities for her children, yet felt it was more important to follow her heart instead of the ideology.

Around December 13th each year, there'd be a Children's festival, and her teacher was always very kind to her, even though the family was On the outside a bit, politically speaking, and invited her to the event, if her mother would allow it. The teacher explained to her mom that there'd first be a reading of a speech with some honoring somebody important in the government, but then it was just a big festival. Her mother had no problem with that and let her go. Her brother's teacher, however, was not so understanding, and not only did she not have intentions of including the brother in the festival with his class, asked coldly upon seeing Erdmutha at the event, "what is SHE doing here?!"

Now...in order to have a good job, such as teacher or school director, one had to be quite loyal to the ideology, she explained. But her teacher was quite kind, and toed the line pretty well, and replied, "in our family we invite friends to birthday parties, so we have invited her to this one." I'm sure the other woman left in a humpf. 

Also her school director was like a grandfather figure, and very kind and good to them. So not everyone in a position of power was a total power freak, or Stasi informant. 

As for trusting people, I asked her how her family could know who to trust. She admitted they'd never tried to flee or had any intentions, and that people knew friends that they'd known for years- and could trust. But sometimes someone unfamiliar would show up at the church, or there'd be people around that everyone seemed to know were informants. 

It was so cool to talk to her, and she was grateful too, saying that sometimes people say ignorant things about the East that just aren't true & it's annoying. Like when a West-rooted classmate in college claimed they didn't have electricity in the East. 

People do tend to have a different accent though, that's easy to notice...which a YouTube video makes apparent. Google "kein ostdeutsch". And you're welcome. 

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