A few of my memories of the DDR
During the 1980’s I was part of what some people referred to as the “Great Game” I was lucky enough to find myself working in Berlin. Suffice to say I made regular trips into the DDR, which I came to know quite well.
As a railway fan, I got to see a lot of very interesting parts of the then Deutsche Reichsbahn, as well as lots of things the DDR would have preferred me not to have seen, but thats another story. Its hard to believe that this was over 35 years ago. The wall came down on the 9th November 1989 having been erected on the 13th August 1961. I was there, and witnessed the end of the wall, or “antifaschistischer Schutzwall““(antifascist Bulwark ) as it was known in the DDR.
In the following months I had a chance to see a lot of what the DDR was, including the ‘Ghost Stations on the Berlin U-Bahn’ (more of that later).
The following photos, with the exception of those that are not mine were all taken on my Canon T90 which has the most accurate and versatile light metering system of any SLR camera even now, it was extremely ahead of its time for 1986 when I purchased mine in Berlin. Shooting difficult film like DDR Orwo was never a problem. Multi-spot metering was another super feature of this camera. I still have it now and its in full working order.
My trusty T90 that has travelled the World and like me is enjoying its retirement.
Berlin Friedrichstrasse Station when it was in the DDR. The station was a crossing point between East and West Berlin. I took this photo from my room in the Interhotel on the 26th February 1988. The next day I had a unwelcome interview with the MfS Stasi when leaving the DDR, more of this incident follows.
Under the S bahn sign was a post office. When the Wall came down, I “liberated a picture of Erich Honecker” which I still have to this day.
The said picture of Erich Honecker. The mark on it is in fact refletion.
Friedrichstrasse Station as it is now, I took this comparison shot on a wet day during a recent visit to Berlin. It would be impossible to get a shot from the angle of the original photo as the hotel has since been demolished. Friedrichstrasse is far more busy now and is a fashionable shopping area of Berlin. Trams have also been introduced as well as a new traffic system. (this photo was not taken with my T90)
An Interview with the Stasi (MfS)
On the 27th February 1988 I was leaving East Berlin at the exit point at Friedrichstrasse ( the palace of tears as it is known), having entered on the 25th Febuary. I presented my passport with visa, to be told I could not exit as the visa was for entry only.I looked closer and the Und Ausreise did appear to be crossed out. I was told to take a seat and wait. Within a short time two Stasi officers appeared and asked me to come with them. I was interrogated for over 3 hours. I told them to check the visa, and if I was going to be detained to inform the British Embassy.A lot of the questions were about, who I met in East Berlin and why I was a regular visitor. Eventually after a lot more questions and the searching of my bag I was released into West Berlin, I had my trusty T90 with me and never understood why they did not take the film. Had they done so the story may have had a very different ending.
I often found myself in the area of the Lübeck–Herrnburg border area. Herrnburg was the DDR border station, before trains headed to Lübeck. DDR border troops often came very close to the outer border, and I regularly threw packets of Western cigarettes to them, which they always picked up after I had left. Enjoy the photos.