“Travels to a Different Time” : 13 August1971: Margaret Mary Stephen Letter to Mother-in-Law Ida Francis Stephen: Thoughts on East Germany and Berlin: Freedom is the Most Precious Thing We Have

We travelled from Basel, Switzerland to West Berlin. Just before we entered East Germany soldiers came aboard to process visas. Then a few miles later another group of soldiers looked at our visas and passports. Clearly one group does not trust the other. I was asked to remove my glasses so they could get a better look at my face. They saw Robert’s middle name was Kennedy and snarled in contempt “Robert Kennedy Schwein”. They threw his passport at him and walked out. Welcome to East Germany. They had locked the doors to the train and searched every dark corner with flashlights. The border guards were heavily armed and behind them more soldiers with machine guns.  We saw very few people in East Germany and the houses were very drab and looking as if they all needed repairs. A final search by soldiers heavily armed at a deserted train station in East Berlin. At night we went to see the Wall and there was a big wreath noting 10 years since it was constructed. It was terrible to see the East Germans patrolling the Wall with police dogs in a bright spotlight. I hate police dogs more than ever now. We were advised it was best to fly into West Berlin but we wanted the experience of traveling by train and seeing a bit of East Germany.  Freedom is the most precious thing we have and if anything Robert realizes how fortunate we are to live in a free country where you may go where you please. I wanted him to see the concentration camps where Jews were slaughtered in World War 2 but staying with Germans made that a bit awkward. Robert said when he returns to Europe he will visit a camp. You can’t travel without learning.

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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