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My Mother was born 1960 in West-Berlin and stayed there until the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Her SO was born in 1968 in East-Berlin he served in the "Grenztruppen der DDR", Bordertroops of the DDR, from 1987 to 1990.
They are available for at least 24h so ask them anything.
EDIT: mistyped dates...
EDIT 2: it's 10pm here now, they threw me out of their house... I will ask/answer all questions tomorrow. Thank you for all the questions so far, they enjoyed them a lot :) And sorry for all the grammar mistakes :D
How did you two meet?
Probably not the story you expect, but they met 5 years ago in the pub where my mother worked. They darted together every once in a while and with the help of alcohol the sparks flew between them eventually.
What could you hear/see over the wall? Could you hear concerts/fireworks or anything, or was it a complete divide?
Well, it was just a 4m tall wall, so of course you were able to see fireworks or hear things.
I'm not sure how you imagine the wall :D
What's it like dating a 30 year old when you're 56, you cougar? ;-) I'd imagine the age difference would cause way more noticeable differences than being from West and East Berlin, especially since the 30 year old was born only a few years before the fall of the wall and was a toddler when Germany went through its reunification.
EDIT: I presume that was a typo on your part? I doubt someone born in 1986 served in any capacity in 1987.
Damn mistyped the year, they are only 8 years apart :D
How long after the wall came down did you begin your relationship? Growing up in very different environments, did you have any difficulty in your early relationship due to cultural differences or political beliefs?
They met long after the fall of the wall, but Andreas told me that due to the different upbringing (I hope this is the correct word) they had different opinions on how to handle things (He can't point out about what, though). But nothing that would affect their relationship in a negative way.
What did you think when you looked at the wall before it fell? Did it sort of disappear into the background, or was it a constant reminder of the border?
Mother: she lived about 20m away from the wall it was totally normal for her, especially since she was a child. It was just another building, just very very long.
Ever know anyone who snuck across? Did you see them prepare etc...? Did they make it?
He saw people who tried to get across from both sides and had to stop them. He was stationed at the railroad crossing in staaken and people tried to cross the border under and on trains but usually were captured.
The tracks were sorrounded by walls long before the "deathzone" of the wall, so it was nearly impossible to cross the border by foot.
Most people who tried to cross the border by foot were drunk people who kind of thought "hold my beer, I'm leaving East-Berlin"
When you were stuck in the East, what was your cultural outlets? Were people able to travel to NYC or Paris to see the sites, or did you have to make it work with USSR culture/cities more often?
He personally never really travelled outside of the DDR, but if he remembers correctly you were only allowed to visit members of the Warsaw Pact. He speculates that you were able to travel to western europe if you were part of the stasi but he isn't sure.
He also pointed out that he was only 21 when the wall fell.
Did you have free/open telephone access to both sides?
SO: We didnt have a phone at home.
Mother: I was able to call the east, but I dont remember what I had to do in order to get a connection.
So I assume it was possible at least for westerners to call the east but it was way more complicated the other way round
How plugged in to the black market were you on the east? Was it straightforward to acquire 'western' stuff through it, or was it all cloak and dagger paranoia?
He aquired records from Udo Lindenberg who was unwelcome in the DDR. You had to be really careful though, because you never knew who was part of the stasi and it could easily lead to punishment for you and your family.
2.5% of East Germans were Stasi. Did they have a daily influence over your life? Has the Edward Snowden revelations etc... created any kind of similarities in the west as you saw in East Germany?
It didnt have any influence on his life, the impact of the stasi became clear to him long after the fall when everything was uncovered. In his opinion the E.S. revelations have hardly any similarities for him, the Stasi wasn't a government agency in his eyes, it was your neighbour, your son, or your drinking buddy.
Did it ever get bad enough that you considered trying to escape?
Due to his job as Borderpatrol he had more than one opportunity to escape, but he had a good job, a good salary and his whole family lived in the east so he had no reason to leave.
Members of the stasi regularily tried to convince him that he should escape in order to test if he is trustworthy. He didn't know that they were stasi at this time though.
>He didn't know that they were stasi at this time though.
How then does he know now?
Thanks all of you for this interesting AMA.
After the fall, germany enacted a law that you have the right to see what the stasi had collected about you. while he didn't use this opportunity personally, others did and so he found out who was a member of the stasi and who not.
"In 1992, following a declassification ruling by the German government, the Stasi files were opened, leading people to look for their files."
Imagine it as it was in photos and movies, I wondered if there was a buffer horizontal to the wall - e.g no concerts within half a mile would have kept the noise down. I figured you would be able to hear/see stuff like concerts or fireworks, so I was curious what that was like on the eastern side.
I misunderstood you then sorry!
He saw a lot of everyday life just because of his job, he can't remember any particular event though but he is quite sure that he saw fireworks and heared concerts/events.