“It was always the same. They would always ask me: ‘Do you have western money with you? Be warned that if we find western money with you, there will be dire consequences.’ The next step was to search my briefcase. I also had to take off my shoes and unbuckle my belt. He dumped the content of my briefcase on the table and searched through it only to find nothing. Then he would say: ‘you may pass’. This made me so angry, to see your stuff in a mess on the table. I was infuriated and I almost would have told him: ‘first you tidy up the mess’. But I told myself to shut up and swallowed my anger. I kept my temper and picked up my things myself. You see, things like that didn’t really contribute to a friendly relationship towards the GDR.”
“It happened on December 12, 1959. It was a Saturday. I was just getting ready to leave the house as I wanted to go dancing in West Berlin. There was a rock ‘n’ roll bar where I would go quite often on the weekends. My mom said that she was going to the Markwarts, our acquaintances in West Berlin. She took my brother with her. I was getting ready and after about ten minutes, my brother came back home crying. He said that they had arrested our mom at the bridge.”
“That’s where it actually really started for me. The next morning, I went to school and there was a group of police men standing at the bridge. There must have been at least 10, maybe even 20 of them. They were young guys. We later started a conversation with them and were making a little bit of fun of them without them noticing it. This was after June 17 and officially there was a state of emergency and gatherings of more than 3 people were not allowed. But we stood intermingled with the policemen and nobody would tell us anything. We started to chat with them a little. We asked them where they were from. He said that he was from Thuringia. My friend pretended to be naïve and asked him why they had actually come to Berlin. ‘Is Thuringia not beautiful as well?’ They told us that they had been ordered to Berlin and told that the West Berliners had invaded East Berlin. They were subsequently puzzled when they came to East Berlin and were greeted by people throwing stones at them. So June 17 didn’t come to an end at once.”
Sigfried Buchholz, born in 1939, had to flee with his family from Posen to Berlin in order to get out of the way of the advancing Red Army in 1945. The division of Berlin had direct consequences for Sigfried – he lived in East Berlin but went to school in West Berlin. Even though the authorities in East Berlin exerted considerable pressure on his family to enroll the children for a school in East Berlin, the family didn’t yield and Sigfried stayed at his original school. Thus he would cross the border on a daily basis and was confronted with permanent border controls. Together with his father, he also witnessed the rebellion on June 17, 1953. In 1959, he fled together with his brother to West Berlin after his mother had been arrested on charges of alleged smuggling.