Christian and I in his village in Germany.
We are with our Mongol Rally Cars since we first met in 2016 in Azerbaijan during our Mongol Rally adventures.
Tales from Eastern Germany
My husband was born in a tiny village in 1986. This village had a Wall running right through it, splitting the village of 44 people for over 40 years while the Communists took over. His grandmother lost contact with people she had gone to school with who ended up on the Western side of the Wall until much later when the wall came down in 1990. My husband was 4 years old when the wall came down. Although he doesn’t remember much, his parents experienced their entire life completely inside the Eastern German Occupation. His Grandmother remembered a time before the wall and now at 87 years old has lived through 4 different currencies and witnessed the government going through several different changes.
A piece of the wall remains in "Little Berlin" and is now part of a Museum in Christian's tiny village.
His grandmother and parents do not speak any English and in fact the only American his granny had ever seen drove a tank through her village long ago during the War. They also shot one of the villagers-though why I am unsure. She didn’t like Americans after that. When she went to school, the Russians only taught her things that communism theories supported, including the bad influence of the “westerners” and the need to stay away from anything tainted by America. My husband’s parents, had a view of “the Wall” from their balcony. The Wall was a solid concrete and steel wall with a mine field, guard dogs, guard towers and a barb wire fence leading up to it. The soldiers guarding the wall were told to shoot and kill anyone that got too close to the wall or attempted to escape.
Christian next to the Wall. He wouldn't have been able to get this close, had the Communists still been in control.
During the 40 years of the Wall’s life, only one person managed to successfully escape by driving a delivery truck against the wall (before the barb wire and minefield had been installed) and climbed over as the soldiers took fire. Once on the other side, the military could not fire their guns against him as shooting on the Western side would be considered an act of War.
His parents both had jobs in Communist Germany, and his father served his required time in the Military before settling down with his wife in the home Christian’s grandmother had been born in. Communism had taught them to be self sufficient and so they raised their own chickens, geese and rabbits to sustain their family during the winter. They also grow a garden and make their own teas, jams and other jarred amenities to last them the winter months.
A photo of the village, Mödlareuth, Eastern Germany in 1989.
My husband, although able to grow up without the wall to keep him from crossing over, rarely ventured to the western side of Germany. He went to several boarding schools and a decent university, all on the Eastern side of Germany. Later when he graduated, he still chose to settle himself on the Eastern side and got a job in a city not far from his families’ village.
Cultural differences I noticed while living in Germany with my Eastern German man
When I met him, he was extremely educated, modern and spoke perfect English. Even his accent was closer to an American accent than a German one. But when he captured me after our car rally (more on the car rally here) and convinced me to come live with him in Eastern Germany, I had no idea what I was in for. It was not unusual for me to be in places that were a bit “behind the times.” After all, I had worked in small villages in Romania and India and had lived abroad in countless countries without many of the luxuries I had known in California. I had traveled to Western Germany before and met countless Western German travelers on my excursions. But admittedly I had not, prior to the rally considered there might be a difference between Eastern and Western Germany. My notion was that any differences there was came down with the wall the year I was born in 1989.
This is the Wall from the Western Side. You can see that the screws all face Western Germany.
The Wall was built, not to keep the Westerners out, but to keep the Eastern German people IN.
Upon visiting the village where he grew up and meeting his family and getting closer in our relationship as a couple, I noticed a few things. Such as Christian’s strange, unexplainable need to KEEP EVERYTHING. He absolutely refused to throw away anything, even old socks with holes, when we first started dating. His family also is still in habit of farming their own geese and rabbits and I once walked into what could only be described as a scene from a horror movie. Bunnies skinned and hanging from where their eyes used to be on hooks in the garden. As an animal lover, I didn’t handle the sight well and was pretty much scarred for life.
A tank left over from the Russian Communist Rule. It sits in his village to this day.
In all the culture shocks and differences, we experienced on opposite sides of the planet in our childhood, we were both grateful that the wall had come down. Allowing us the chance to meet is something that would never had been possible thirty years ago. It is a shock to me that Eastern Germany had been sealed away from the Western World for so long, but thankfully the Wall came down and thirty years later an American girl (me) and a Eastern German man (Christian) got married.
And now we can decide whether or not to keep socks with holes in them together.