Return from West Germany

That evening they mesmerized me with more stories about their trip. Kent cigarette packages worked well with border inspectors without our gifts confiscated. Mama’s German lessons paid off so much so that Tati commended her and atoned her for having alleged that she squandered time drinking Turkish coffee.

I was captured in a fairy tale with autobahn thoroughfares and fast cars, stores with shelves overloaded with a myriad of products. Instead of one government-issue of an item, a selection? Instead of hoping to find an item, a choice?

“I couldn’t believe it,” Tati said.

Mama nodded, “I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen everything with my own eyes.”

On their first trip outside Romania and the Eastern Bloc, twelve hundred miles away, they experienced freedom. They saw and heard, felt and tasted a lifestyle vastly so different that their senses awakened – a people living life without fear, in comfort and abundance.

As I listened, I wished to see this world with my own eyes.

She continued, “The rumors are nothing. The differences are incomprehensible. Our lives are so repressed, so far beneath their standard of life. I must admit that Gisi’s and Rudi’s urging us to remain in West Germany was tempting.”

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People Have Rights

Excerpt from Chapter 5

Stories about citizens risking death to escape communism circulated widely, said to have run west over heavily guarded fields lined with barbed wire and armed border guards or jumped into the frigid water of the Danube. Many died. Those captured were beaten, tortured, and imprisoned indefinitely. Others drowned in the unforgiving waters of the Danube or shot. Every one had aimed to reach the Free West, a world where it was rumored that “oamenii au drepturi.

I wondered what “people have rights” meant.

I had begun to understand that the communists ran our lives. The government controlled food stores, clothing stores, shoe stores; it controlled what the media reported, how much information and how the information was presented; it decided when two television channels aired and what programs would be broadcasted; it controlled the medical field, hospitals, and the quantity and quality of health care; it decided how much each profession earned; it controlled education and how many openings at each higher education institution; it required every second grade elementary student to join the communist party as a Pioneer; it instituted state atheism and declared it illegal to possess a Bible or Christian literature or to confess faith in God, the consequences of a violation being imprisonment, torture, and personal ruin.

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