A German Story, Part 3 of 3

We open in medias res of Horst’s story. If you haven’t read Parts 1 and 2, you should go back and read them before continuing: [hyperlink to Part 1 post].

When we last left our hero, Horst had left East Berlin for the first time in his life and was eating pizza in West Berlin.

Also, we are in West Berlin. And on this day Helmut Kohl [the Chancellor of West Germany] is visiting. He was traveling in Poland, and came back to West Berlin for this day and on the street we are on we see a big crowd of people and cars coming this way, and helicopters flying overhead. And this is Helmut Kohl. So I am standing there and next to me is a beige Opel sitting right there. And a large man walks up to me, very big and as tall as I am and very stern, just like this.” He demonstrates again, and it is intimidating. As I said, he is a believable actor and is also at least two meters tall. “And he throws the car door open”— fearing that I missed the verb, he adds, “Not opens it, but rather really throws it open—right into me, so.” Horst is acting his own part again and bends over in agony, clutching his crotch. “And out of the car steps Helmut Kohl! This was his car! Not some black state vehicle, but this beige Opel. So he is walking past me and I am bending over in pain. Hahaha. And so that is my first impression of Western government,” he adds, grinning, clutching his crotch again in memory.

“All right, now is when you should take notes again. A couple of years after, a friend told me that he remembered walking by the gate on Wednesday. The 8th. And a GI—the very lowest, a GI—told him, hey, do you know the Wall is going to be opened tomorrow? And he believed nothing of it, because it was just some GI and he hadn’t heard anything about it. So he forgot. Continue reading

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A German Story, Part 2 of 3

We open in medias res of Horst’s story. If you haven’t read Part 1, you should go back and read it before continuing.

When we last left our hero, around 2100 hours on the night of November 9th, 1989, he had been confronted by Italian friends telling him the Wall had fallen. He did not believe them for a second, and denied their news with such authority that they believed him and returned to bed.  Horst returned to his apartment and shut the door.

“So I went back to my reading and then I closed the book and really listened to the radio, no more in one ear and out the other. And there I heard it, the Wall is open, and then it all made sense, before with the . . . Continue reading

A German Story: Part 1 of 3

This story was told to me by Horst one Friday morning, November 9th, when I was the only one who showed up for class. Horst was a professor of mine when I studied abroad in Germany. He is quite tall, probably 200 pounds, dark hair, dark eyes, olive skin, has an air about him like he may have been a former military officer. He is full of conspiracies, and when I knew him he was in the process of building a bicycle-powered wood-chopper for his cottage in the event of a crisis-level power failure. He carries around first editions of 17th century books, his finger marking the page.

In this particular class, we went through some of my questions about grammar, such as “Ob…?” implicit questions and how one uses Intentionalpartikeln such as doch, bloß, mal, etc. Then he said that he thought that today we would work on hearing comprehension, he would tell me a story and I should take notes, and then I could write something up and we could see how I did. So he told me this story.

If you are a particularly acute student of history—as Horst was—you might recognize the date on which he told me this story as a significant one. November 9th is the date the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.

Horst was 26 at the time; he had grown up his entire life in East Germany, behind the Wall. Continue reading