The Night the Wall Came Down
Jürgen stood in the crowd that had gathered at the wall. Finally, on November 9, 1989, after many months and years of trying, the East German people had made a giant leap forward in the battle to achieve freedom. Jürgen, though having been born and raised in East Germany, by East German parents, had joined in the “peaceful protests”.
Of course, he had an ulterior motive for joining in the protests: he and his girlfriend, Marta, had been separated by the wall for twenty-eight years. He was not a communist, nor a socialist — in fact he had not even read Marx’s Communist Manifesto, nor did he have any desire to do so; East Germany was a national prison for him. The mere thought of the peaceful revolution’s success was liberation for him.
“Open the gate! Open the gate!” screamed the gathered crowd. “The government has opened the Wall! Let us go to the west!” shouted some people in the crowd. Others spoke amongst themselves.
“What would you like to do most in the west?” a person in the crowd asked Jürgen.
“I would like most to see my girlfriend,” he responded.
“You have a girlfriend in the west?”
“Yes. She and I were born here in the east. We met while we were in Gymnasium. She and I were in the same grade. We immediately fell in love — it was love at first sight. We remained together until the wall separated us. We were both 18 when we were separated...”
“Yes, I see. Why is she in the west and you are here in the east?”
“It’s a long story — a very long story. However, the quick version is my mother was near death 28 years ago. I stayed behind with Mother, then the government built the Wall.”
“I am very, very sorry.”
“Yes, I was too! I just hope she hasn’t fallen in love with someone else...”
Late in the night, the German Democratic Republic finally yielded once and for all to the peaceful revolutionaries, and the second most famous wall in the world was rendered useless. The other walls, that were throughout Germany, containing the East Germans would suffer the same fate within due time. But for now, the East Berliners flooded into West Berlin.
On the other side of the Wall, the West Berliners went about their lives, despite being the only non-Socialist territory within the East German borders. Marta tried to continue her daily life in West Berlin after the construction of the Wall, but despite the help from friends Birgit and Hilde, she could not move on. She tried forgetting Jürgen. She even tried dating other men, but to no avail. None of the other men she met were as perfect for her as Jürgen was; at least not in her mind, anyway. She had always felt an indescribable bond with Jürgen — one that could not even be broken by a Wall between them, she felt. So, even though she could not keep in touch with him, she still believed that their love remained.
When the “peaceful revolution” began in Leipzig, Marta began to take notice. She had a feeling that Jürgen would be involved. After several weeks of watching the events in East Germany, she determined that it could be the beginning of the end of the East German nation. The thought of the potential return of Jürgen caused her to begin singing more, act as if she had no cares, and look happier. She hoped and prayed that the revolution would bring about the unification of a nation that had been divided for far too long.
Marta was watching the television following the events of the peaceful revolution when she saw the announcement that the German Democratic Republic was going to end border control. She joyously called Brigit and Hilde who raced over to Marta’s apartment to watch the events unfold.
“I cannot believe it! Jürgi will soon be coming home!” Marta told Birgit and Hilde when they arrived.
“It is a miracle!” Hilde responded. “I would like to say we’re sorry. We should have believed that Jürgi would have come back.”
“No problem. He will soon be back, that is all I care about.” Marta replied.
“But we must remind you: don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” Birgit admonished.
“This is true, but I want to be optimistic.” Marta responded.
“I just don’t want you to get your hopes up too soon...” Birgit declared.
After the opening of the gate, the flood of people made their way through. The border guards had originally tried to check the passports, but by the time Jürgen had gotten to the border, the guards had given up. People were going over and through the wall, as well as making their way through the previously designated border control locations. The Easterners wanted to make their way over to the West.
Jürgen made his way through the border control and entered West Berlin. He was surprised by the reaction he got in West Berlin by the crowd that had gathered to witness the event in person. He began to search for anybody he might have remembered from before, but mostly he searched for Marta.
He passed by Marta once, but she had her back turned and he couldn’t see her in the dark — if he even would have recognized her. He finally made his way through the crowd and just began to wander the streets, wondering if he should go to the old apartment where they had lived when they were still together. He walked around, trying to remember where it was.
Hilde and Birgit were headed back to their house, when they ran into Jürgen. None of the three recognized each other. But, he decided to ask them if they knew how to get to the old apartment. They gave him directions, and began to walk away. Suddenly, Birgit had a thought: “Jürgen!” she called out to him.
“Who was that?” thought Jürgen, before he turned around and answered “Hello?”
“Jürgen! Is it really you?” Hilde asked.
Jürgen was obviously confused by the two girls and wondered, first of all, how they knew his name, and second why they were acting so weirdly. “Can I help you?” he finally asked.
“It’s us, Birgit and Hild—” Birgit started.
“Hilde and Birgit... Marta’s friends!” Hilde interrupted.
“Oh my, I am sorry, but I didn’t recognize you! How are you!?” Jürgen stated.
“We’re fine... what about you?! I am glad you’re back —” Hilde stated.
“So am I!” Jürgen interrupted. “Where is Marta? Still living in the old apartment?”
“Oh no! —” began Hilde.
“... she moved to a different apartment,” Birgit finished, returning Hilde’s interruption.
“Would you please show me?”
“Well...” Birgit hesitated.
“What?” Jürgen asked, petrified he knew the answer.
“We can’t find her...” Hilde threw in.
“We were heading to our house to see if she was there...” Birgit explained.
“... she said she was going out to look for you...” Hilde finished.
“Please show me anyway.” Jürgen pleaded.
“OK!” Birgit responded.
With that, they were off to the apartment. The three laughed and cried as they discussed the long separation. Their short walk took much longer than normal, as the three just were so emotional that everything they discussed caused them to flood with tears. However, the girls did get to show Jürgen some things that had changed. Once in the apartment, the girls showed him which room was Marta’s. He knocked on the door; Marta did not answer.
“We can wait for Marta to return, or we can go to our apartments and see if, perhaps, she’s there...” Birgit offered.
“Why don’t you girls go on ahead to your apartments to see if she’s there? I’ll stay behind, in case she returns.”
“That sounds like a great idea,” Hilde said. With that, the girls were off.
Jürgen sat in the hallway wondering what he would say to Marta when she returned. Then, he remembered that he had forgotten to ask if she was still single. “The girls would have told me if she were married, right?” he thought. Suddenly, a voice broke his thoughts.
“Hello?” Marta asked.
“Hello!” responded Jürgen.
“Are you waiting to see somebody specific?” Marta asked.
“Yes, I am waiting to see the girl who lives here in this apartment,” Jürgen said, pointing toward Marta’s apartment.
“I rent that apartment. My name is Marta.” she replied.
“Yes, I know...” Jürgen choked out. “It’s me Jürgen.”
Marta began crying, her teardrops more plentiful than a waterfall. “Jürgi! Jürgi! Jürgi! I missed you so much!” she replied as Jürgen gave her a huge hug.
After they embraced and kissed for a short eternity, Marta finally said,“Let’s go into the apartment. We need to be alone...” With that, she opened her door.
The two walked into the apartment’s entryway. Jürgen admired the apartment, but not for long. His focus was too much on Marta. “You are more beautiful than the Black Forest in Autumn,” he told her.
“Thanks,” she responded. “Come with me.” She pointed in the direction of the rest of the apartment. They spent the next week alone, catching up on their 28 lost years.
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