The Phone Call
By Christina Manning
Authors Note ! My mother lived in East Germany for nine years during the Cold War. Her parents tried over and over to leave East Germany by getting an exit visa. Every time they were turned down. This story is about the time that they scored lucky. They were accepted to go to Canada. ! In the Cold War, there was no fighting, no bombs, just threats and tension between the Soviet Union and America. The government tried to make everyone believe that the people in East Germany were living in wonderful conditions, and they also tried to keep the East Germans quiet about their lives. The East German government told the world that they wanted peace, but the Americans did not think this was true. ! During this time, leaving East Germany was not an option, yet people continued to try. People in the West knew all about the people trying to leave East Germany in homemade hot-air balloons, but most of
the people in the East could not even start to imagine the possibility. ! My momâ€™s parents wanted to leave because her brothers were about to finish high-school. To go to college, you had to join a communist organization, but her parents did not want that for them. They tried to leave for a better opportunity. They chose to go to Canada over America, because Canada represented beauty and adventure. I hope you enjoy this narrative!
The Phone Call
Snow fell from the grey sky. The smell of
gasoline and smoke filled the air. The word “war” rang in everyone’s ears, but this was no real war, this was a fake war. There was no fighting, or bombs. Just threats and tension between the Soviet Union, and America. !
Sitting at home, the couch swallowed me up with
its fluffiness. The sun was blinding my eyes, yet it barely kept me warm. Even under the layers of coats, and the sun beating down on me, my body was shivering. I scooted closer to the coal fired oven, trying to absorb all the heat I could. I shoved another piece of Lintzer Torte into my wide, greedy mouth. !
Outside the window I could see snow flakes
falling gently to the ground, like flower petals drifting
through the wind. The streets in the village were empty, except for a few desperate shoppers scavenging the empty stores for food. !
“Here come the tanks again, 5th time this week”,
one of my brothers noted. !
Tanks rumbling through the streets where as
normal as you and me seeing a car pass us on the road. !
“Followed up by Russian soldiers” I added.
Lonely Russian boys, far away from home,
pretended to be men, as they paced the streets. They wore uniforms but with their solemn and joyless faces you could tell that they all longed for a friend. !
My parents, and brothers sat around me,
enjoying the peaceful afternoon. All of a sudden, the phone rang. It sounded like millions of cats, clawing at a blackboard. My eyes darted to the phone, and
my face scrunched up in confusion as I asked, “mom, dad, what’s happening?”. No one answered me. A blood chilling silence filled the room as my father steadily stood up and walked over to the phone. Everyone else’s eyes were wide open, and their ears were burning waiting for the news, but mine were not. !
I wondered if my father had gotten us all into
trouble, or if the governors of East Germany were actually letting us leave. I tried so hard not to let my hopes rise any further, but it was too hard. My father came back and sat down. I practically jumped out of my seat with anticipation. !
“Well, what happened?”, I asked.
“We are allowed to leave!” my father exclaimed.
He quickly blurted out what we would have to do
to get ready to leave. It seemed like an impossible task, but I knew we could do it. After years of
waiting, we were actually leaving! A grin spread across my face as my young and yearning mind traveled to another land with no war, no death, but a land filled with adventure and what I wanted most; freedom.
INTERVIEW: Why did you leave? -The cold war meant no leaving but there werenâ€™t a lot of opportunities for brothers so her parents wanted to got to a free country where her brothers could study what they wanted -During the Cold War East Germany was a communist country, and you had to join a communist organization in order to go to university and study whatever you wanted. -Her dad was a pastor and all churches were persecuted during the Cold War. -They didnâ€™t feel like they had more opportunities. How did you get to leave Germany? -Her parents visited a police station in Germany and asked for exit visas. They were denied, and over three years, they kept going back and asking.
-During those three years they were allowed to send their stuff to Canada and get it packed up. -They did it because they felt the more steps they took to make it appear that they were leaving, the likelier they would get permission -They also got a promise of jobs from a church in Canada. -That church let the government of East Germany know that they wanted my dad. -The kids where pulled out of school during the ends of those three years because the government didnâ€™t like people publicly announcing that they wanted to leave. -It was a lot of stress on the parents to be partially gone but not gone.
What are some memories you have? -It was lightly snowing -All her dolls where lined up by the window looking out so that they could wave to them because they could not bring all their stuff
- It was the middle of the night and a lot of houses had their lights on and were waving good bye because it was big news that someone was leaving to Canada. -The last afternoon her mom took everything that was not packed up and put it in a huge wagon to bring to the dump and then people came to the front yard and started picking through the stuff. She was embarrassed. -When they got to the airport, it was my mom’s first time on an escalator. It was really exciting for her. -Her mom and her were separated from her dad and brothers, and she knew that her mom was uncomfortable with this and scared. “My mom sat me down and said, “Look, I don’t want you to talk to anyone, and if they search me, you can turn around and not look.” Luckily they took her mom behind a curtain -She was sitting and having cake after Christmas, and they got a phone call, and they knew that something big had happened because the phone was never used, unless something huge happened.
What where some moments that impacted you a lot? - The phone call impacted her because of the stress it caused her parents. - Another moment was the people waving. - Her parents told her that this was important because everyone had stayed up to see them go. What was the best and worst thing that happened? - The best thing was her parents got to have the adventure they were looking for. - The worst thing was the whole first year in Canada - The culture shock - Missing family Why did you choose Canada over America? - They chose Canada over America because Canada represents beauty and adventure. - Itâ€™s a popular place for Germans.
- Most Germans know more about native America then Canadians. What was it like when you got the call? -They got the phone call, while sitting in a fancy living room - Nice after christmas, relaxed feeling - Eating cake What was the drive like? - The car was crowded - She remembers being squished and cold, and it was night so she was tired - The lights in the house were pretty - She was confused, carsick, and there was a cigarette smell in the car __________________________________________
Research notes: -Nikita Khrushchev believed in peace -He wanted peace so that the people would see the advantages of communism -Communists believed that Communism would be victorious -Nikita Khrushchev believed that Communism would lead to greater discoveries, lead to outer-space adventures, and make peace -Soviet people do not want war, destruction or death -Nikita Khrushchev believed that the only way to freedom is peaceful coexistence -Nikita Khrushchev wanted to win with the least struggle or losses. ON THE OTHER HAND... -Richard V. Allen believed that Nikita Khrushchev didnâ€™t really mean that, but was just trying to destroy America and itâ€™s freedom
-Richard V. Allen believed that this was a plan created by the Soviet Union to change the world movement -Richard V. Allen thought that peaceful coexistence is a strategy that would help the Communist Revolution to finally overthrow the free world and make the entire world communist. -Richard V. Allen thought that to the Soviet Union’s “peaceful coexistence” just meant intense struggle and was not “peaceful” at all. -Richard V. Allen thought that communists say peace but they just wanted to cover up their wanting and planning to destroy the free world, and its freeness.
-People tried to get over the Berlin wall by building homemade hot air balloons. -People tried to get over the Berlin wall by jumping.
They were shot down by land mines, guns and other sorts of killing weapons.
By doing this narrative from my mother’s
perspective, I have learnt a lot of things. One of the most major things I have learnt is how much this affected my mother’s life. For example, when they finally got accepted to go to Canada, she was taken out of school by the government. They did this because they didn’t want people going around announcing that they were leaving. !
Working on it with my mom has helped her get
her feelings out, and it has helped me learn that the Cold War had no bombs or anything. The two sides (communist and democracy) just created nuclear bombs and threatened each other with them. However, just because the bombs were not used, many people died of starvation in other Easter Block Countries, and because they had tried to cross the Berlin Wall.
It was important for me to do this project
because it helped me understand my background better. It helped me understand where I come from, and how I got here. !
The most enjoyable moment of this project was
probably creating the cover, just because I am a very artsy person, and I enjoy doing little projects like that. !
One really difficult challenge that I came across,
was researching. When I started researching, my topic was already very small and detailed. I could not find any information that had exactly what I was looking for. I ended up researching a huge variety of things that were related to the Cold War. Most of the information that I learnt was not included in my narrative, but it was nice to know some of the background information. __________________________________________
BIBLIOGRAPHY Gerdes, Louise I. The Cold War. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2004. Print. Gerdes, Louise. The Cold War. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2003. Print. Encyclopaedia Britannica, inc. Compton's. Volume 5, ChileCz. Chicago: EncyclopĂŚdia Britannica, 2005. Print. ____________________________________________________________________________________
A historical narrative based on my family’s experiences