November 9, 2019


Hemmingen / Weingarten – Just like a second birth – this is how Karlheinz Breinig describes the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989. “I cried myself to death in front of the TV,” says the 77-year-old. 14 years earlier, he, his wife and two sons had fled the GDR – in the trunk of two cars. In Hemmingen near Ludwigsburg they found a new home.

Martin Stellberger is also excited and moved every time he sees pictures of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The German division always accompanied the 70-year-old from Weingarten near Ravensburg. He was born in Heidelberg, but his mother came from Halle in Saxony-Anhalt. As a child, he visited several times his grandmother in the GDR. As a secondary school teacher, he drove regularly with his students to East Berlin. Even after the fall of the issue, he did not let go of the topic: “That was a very hot time and that has shaped me uncannily.” In 1990, he helped the CDU in Pirna near Dresden in the election campaign. With his school and his riding club he made connections to the East.

About 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Stellberger set off on a journey along the former inner-German border with his horse – 1400 kilometers from Bavaria to the Baltic Sea. “I wanted to talk to people,” explains Stellberger. How did you live on the border and how did you experience the change? “I did not find anyone who wanted to get back the border. I did not find anyone who wanted the GDR back. “

Border ride on horseback

Berlin wall

He did not complete his border rally in one piece, but distributed over a period of four years. He and his horse came here spontaneously with changing hosts. As Stellberger learned, during the division in certain areas, every farm laborer in the East had his personal guard and peasants had to report their harvest date to the border troops four weeks earlier. If it rained then and they could not harvest, they would have had to report a new appointment – and have to wait another four weeks.

Unlike Stellberger, Karlheinz Breinig was born in the GDR. He fell early in disgrace: Jeans, no membership in the Free German Youth (FDJ) – a “negative element” was its name in a training assessment. He built antennas that could be used to receive West television and was not recruited by the Stasi. Their file on Breinig covers several hundred pages. “Somehow, I did not agree with the system anymore.”

On December 22, 1975, the wedding anniversary of him and his wife, Breinig fled the GDR. “It gives me goose bumps again when I think about it.” He told his two sons, seven and eleven at the time, that they wanted to go on winter holidays to Poland. What he called dilettante is what followed: In the meantime, they lost a son to an escapee who drove the boy in the trunk to the wrong border crossing. In the end, the driver still came to the right transition. Since he had crossed the border with the boy in the trunk several times already.

He, his wife, and the younger son passed the border into West Berlin in the trunk of a second car. The border control had seemed to him eternal. A few hundred meters behind the guard then the all-clear from the helpers in the front of the car: “We did it.”

Nothing fundamentally wrong

The GDR issued a warrant, first because of “Republic flight”, later because of “treasonable agent activity”. His parents in Halle, he could no longer visit and vice versa, it was not easy. When Breinig’s wife died in the West in the mid-eighties, his mother was initially not allowed to visit. Breinig even wrote a letter to former GDR state and party leader Erich Honecker, he says. Finally, the mother was allowed to come. But Breinig’s wife had already died.

Breinig and Stellberger are not of the opinion that after reunification something fundamentally went wrong. The positive developments are in the majority, says Grenzreiter Stellberger. You have to prove it stronger. In his opinion, however, the state should have been better able to explain why, at the turn of the century, settlements and unemployment came about. “I can understand some misunderstandings.” The former teacher also wants schools to celebrate the Day of German Unity on October 3rd. The mediation of the day and the backgrounds are far too short.

Booty refugee Karlheinz Breinig thinks that younger generations are less interested in German division because they grew up in freedom and do not know the difference. For those affected like him, the story continues to be very present. He tries to convince everyone of the importance of the topic. Sometimes it will be too much for his current wife. She then rants with him: “You with your GDR.”

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