This week, a series. I have the enduring good fortune to have met two lifelong Berliners, who, like all Berliners of their time, both led remarkable lives, enduring the fall of the Third Reich, the subsequent occupation of their city and its division and reunification in the Cold War.
This is the transcript of a conversation we had with Inge in the summer of 2013 at the Seehotel Muhlenhaus outside Berlin. Inge died, well into her eighties, in 2014. Her husband remains our dear friend today.
They said to me, it was very nice in those bad days everyone was awfully good to everyone else. They said to me “We have two pillows left. You and your mother get one pillow and I and my husband have the other one. That was it, you know.
And some came, when we were hurrying around the streets to get … to know where to sleep at the end they came up and said we have two beds in the cellar and you can sleep there. They were very nice all the time. And then when the Russians came, they come nearer all the time, and first of all, also in the north of Berlin came the Russians and everyone was afraid.
We had a bad, I don’t know what it’s called (says the German word), a very big building with very thick walls and they, everyone felt in there very safe. And we did not, we went to a friend across, they had a good cellar and we went in there every night.
And then the Russians came and first they say, lady, come, you know?
And nobody knows when they would come to us. I was then fifteen and my mother also was thirty five or something and then we were always afraid they would come now. And then one morning, I’ll never forget, they came out of the bunker, about twenty … twenty women all with torn blouses and things like this you know and they said yes, the Russians came into this place.
Photo: The conference table at Potsdam, near Berlin.