Decampment to a new life, 9 August 1989: Blick aus der neuen Wohnung [7/8]



Berlin, Friedrichstraße 43-45
Created By: Marion T.

License: Creative Commons License


group of people, houses


apartment, aversion, bureaucracy, fall of the Berlin Wall, family, joy, leave


Checkpoint Charlie, Friedrichstraße station border crossing

Other items in this set


"On 9 August 1989, me, my husband and our 4-year-old daughter officially left East Berlin for West Berlin. I was 26 years old at the time. The two pictures show the last moments in our flat in Prenzlauer Berg. Afterwards, we went to the Friedrichstraße crossing, went over the border without any problems and got on the S-Bahn train. The first thing we saw from the train were the so-called 'ghost stations' that hadn't been decommissioned. West Berliners were totally used to seeing them, we, however, had never even heard about them. Our first thought when we got off the train at the S-Bahn station Humboldthain in Wedding was that it was so green here. This must surely be the best place in the West Berlin.

In August 89 more and more people came from the GDR to West Berlin, including the first refugees from Hungary. We'd seen TV reports about dormitories being set up in overcrowded gyms when still in the Eastern part of the city already. We wanted to avoid this for our daughter and ourselves and therefore stayed for a while with an uncle in Wedding. Although it was only for four months, not having our own flat proved quite an experience for us.

The first fortnight in the Western part of the city was taken up with daily trips to the completely overcrowded reception centre in Marienfelde. There, we had to register with various authorities including the police, health insurance, pension, etc. (never in my life have I filled in as many forms as I did in that time). We were also interrogated by the Allies.

My husband went back to work at the beginning of September already. That was an important base on which to build our new lives. While out looking for a government agency, I went in the wrong direction at U-Bahnhof Kochstraße and suddenly ended up at Checkpoint Charlie – a new block of flats was just being finished there. I immediately noted down the contact number, called the very same day and only just managed to get us on the list of applicants for a flat. At the end of September we knew that we would have our own flat by December, albeit right on the border. Even today, the Kreuzberg part of Friedrichstadt remains one of the less favoured neighbourhoods. During the 80s there was a push to gentrify the area and close up the gaps between the buildings. Within the framework of a building exhibition, high-grade flats were then built as social housing. We had the great fortune to be able to get one of these flats. The price for living there was that, from the day we moved in and for years to come, groups of architecture students came in to the grounds, visited the outdoor facilities (see photo), and often rang the bell asking to be let in to see the flat. When we looked out of the window towards the street, we could see the Wall Museum and a car park the Allies used.

When the Wall fell on 9 November 1989 we had very mixed feelings. We were of course very happy to see friends and family again. But there was also a vapid feeling. For it meant that people who had done absolutely everything they could to make our lives in the GDR difficult during the five years it finally took for us to leave were suddenly also coming over."

Marion T.