Translations of the
German Interview Passages
Translated by Selja Saarialho
1.1 Question: Why fear?
Susanne: I’d felt that there were changes in the air. I’d sensed that something that would bring about great changes was happening. […] And, of course, with changes, you never know what they will lead to. So there was something threatening about it, because it openly questioned the prevailing system. […] And then there’s also the way I’ve been socialised, at school and at home. All in all, I think that I’d been living in a greenhouse until ’89. […] I think that I inherited a positive attitude towards the state from home, and through my family history altogether.
1.2 Question: But what did the FRG mean to you at that time?
Rita: I could never imagine what it was like in the FRG — but to picture what it could be like there was an exciting thing for me as a child and adolescent. In Charité there was a department for cancer research where you could see West Berlin out of the window. I always waited there and looked out of the window and wondered if there really were the same kind of people as us there, if they had the same kind of feelings as me, the same kind of fears and doubts about the future. What they played, how they moved.
1.3 Thomas: And then my grandparents’ emotional stories about fascism, my grandmother’s, who was interrogated by the Gestapo and lost her hearing there. My comparison between the FRG and the GDR had very much to do with this story. And with the images that you had — unemployment in the FRG, and here you had work. When a friend of mine said that you’ll find work in the FRG if you just want to, I thought it can’t be true. This was more or less the framework for my comparing the GDR and the FRG.