Attempted Brainwashing

The time when the Americans occupied us was a good time. We felt free for the first time in a very long time. America gave us a taste of what a normal and good life could be like. Of course if something seems too good to be true, well then maybe it is. The “big trade-off” when the Russians gave part of Berlin to the Americans demanded our part of Germany ( central Germany ) in return. That’s when life became very different again, not wanting to over-use the term, but; “miserable!”

_000001propagandaEvery tall building had red slogans plastered all over them, like :

Freedom

Peace

Oneness..

We found out very quickly what this meant in reality. If one took these words and replaced them with the opposite meaning, then one knew what they really meant. Bottom line, what it stood for was “Total Control!” Now we were back to where it all started, back to Nazi time.. all the way. The difference was the color of their uniforms only. As I mentioned before, Nazis brown, Communists red. The only difference.

The great brainwashing had begun all over again. “Communism was great.. people were free, and peace would last forever.” Those lies did not have any impact on our generation, as we knew they were all lies. No, the concern was for the coming generations. If a child grows up hearing certain words and philosophies over and over.. will the child eventually believe those lies? Every parent I knew was making sure their children would know the truth.

Generally all things were the same as they had been under the Nazis. No food. No free speech. Threats of prison if one dared speak against the current Regime. We were used to all this and we learned to keep our mouths shut.

Our food supplies were carted off.. East.. somewhere to the East. We all could guess exactly where in the “East”. We were stolen blind. No food again. No supplies of any kind, and surely no patches or the right glue to keep “Rickety” fixed. All back to normal.. yes our “normal”. Our rationed food was all used up by the 10th of the month, and if we could buy a loaf of bread on the black market it would cost 60.00 DMs. Our money wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on. It was merely paper anymore.

Again.. survival of the fittest. Life under the Communists was a fine life indeed. Being young though.. we made the best of a terrible situation. We sang and danced a lot, had garden parties enjoying one another’s company. In spite of all and everything, we were happy young people enjoying life. “So there, you bunch of lying, thieving creepy Rulers of this era!”

In West-Germany things were different. People had all their needs met. Life had turned from bombing and the terrible war.. to true peace and freedom. The people who were blessed to live in that part of Germany tried to help us as much as they could. At least once a week we received a package with goodies from relatives. Tante Hanni being one of those angels who tried helping us. Sometimes.. to this day I keep thinking I did not thank her enough.. did not throw my arms around her and tell her how much I loved her.

Then something happened that I have a strong memory of. It had to do with Stalin’s death, yes that’s what it was. My friends and I were all ordered to appear at the “Marktplatz” ( town center in Halle ). All colleges and schools closed .. All students met at that place. Thousands of people, mostly young people stood silently, pressed together like herrings in a can.. waiting for what would come next.

_000001stalin

Churchbells rang.. Eerie, the silence, except for those bells. Then an announcement came:”Beloved Stalin had died!” (So this was it?!) We were told to bow our heads in total silence for three minutes. Of course we obeyed.. The three minute silence was deafening as no one dared utter a sound.

Then.. that was it, we dispersed and that was the end! Loud chatter.. running out of this place.. mostly young people. Everyone resumed chatting and interacting. A very strange memory, but a very strong one, so here it is, of Josef my boyfriend and I…. standing right next to the Red Tower “am Marktplatz” in Halle.

Meanwhile mom was in the kitchen peeling potatoes. When I came in she looked at me and asked: “So now what happened?” I told her what I had just “endured”, so to speak.
She said: “Oh, that!” And that was all she said. But what else could she have said? “Oh that” was perfectly adequate, I reasoned. Right after she said this, there came the usual:

“Adelheid, hast du heute schon geuebt?” ( did you practice your piano today?” )

Things were totally back to normal ;)

Comments

  1. David Mulldune says:

    It is difficult for most of us in America to understand and truly appreciate the freedoms we enjoy. Reading your stories brings home the realities of politics gone mad for the sake of power and the sufferings of those caught in the crossfire. It has stricken me that in all of your stories, in the midst of stark surroundings, you always found a spark of joy. You had the “Tante Hanni’s,” and chose the occasions to “sing and dance.” Amazing!

  2. David, I dare say it : I love love love your comments, and maybe just maybe my brain will give up some more.. some more memories worth penning ;)

  3. Alan Brase says:

    Addie:
    I must say I, too enjoy your recollections. Please keep writing. My own family all came from Germany- Grandpa Brase from Niedersachsen in 1894 at age 6 was the only one I talked to at all from Germany, the other grandparents having been in the US more generations. Now, 50 or more years too late, I wish I had quizzed them more. Oral history is such a precious thing and so easily lost unless written down.
    My own first link to Germany is the fact I am an enthusiast of oldtimer cars, especially VW Bulli’s and air cooled Porsches.
    In fact, what brought me here was that I saw a 1958 photo of a VW bus that says: “M. Brachwitz” lettered on the side. This vehicle is exactly like one I own and could be the very same vehicle.
    Maybe not, because mine was at one time sold in Switzerland, which is not so close.
    So, keep writing!
    Alan Brase

    • Alan, thank you much for your note. About me and writing more.. that’s sort of tricky, because I wanted to write about my childhood, only !
      But, I know I will discover many more memories and when I do.. my fingers will start flying over that keyboard again !
      Thank you again ;)
      Addie

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