East German Girl: Escape From East to West
Sigrid Jackson & Jacqualynn Bogle
ISBN 13: 978-1-4620-4132-9 Softcover
ISBN 13: 978-1-4620-4133-6 Hardcover
ISBN: 978-1-46204-256-2 eBook
Published by iUniverse | © 2011 | Available | 156 Pages
In East German Girl, Jackson describes what it was like to live through the bombing raids, food shortages, diphtheria, communism, and being forced to leave her home with her mother and brother to be relocated to a rural farm. Using personal anecdotes to illustrate how God has worked in her life, Jackson demonstrates the courage that was necessary to escape East Germany to freedom in the west when she was just twelve years old.
“I know we briefly talked about it in our letters,” Tante Lieschen says, her voice an octave lower and very business-like, “but I have an escape plan for you. It may not be a quick getaway, for it will take weeks, but I think it will work.”
She pulls a map out of a drawer and spreads it out on the table. Obviously she has really thought about this because the map is covered with markings. Mother had told me that her sister knew Berlin well. As she walks Mother through the map, I can see that she knows every route of the street cars, buses, and U-Bahn. Her detailed descriptions of the routes we must take surpass simple street names and cardinal directions. She knows every shop, street beggar, and soldier we will pass. Tante Lieschen even informs Mother of a few people she knows are “safe” and have helped others escape to West Berlin.
“Where exactly are we headed?” I ask, for Mother has never fully versed me on the key points of our plan for my own safety.
“We have relatives in West Berlin,” she concisely answers.
I had known that we were going to sneak to West Berlin, but I never knew we had family over there. “What relatives? Have I met them before?”
Mother seems slightly irritated with my questioning and simply responds, “No, you have not. They are distant relatives, but nevertheless, they have agreed to be our checkpoint there.”
Fair enough. I don’t need to know everything as long as we will be free.
“Every day, you must follow this route and know it like the back of your hand so you do not have to ask anyone on the street. You have to look like you belong and know what you are doing. Do not draw any attention to yourselves,” she says with a grave expression, “Go straight to the train station. Taking bags of clothing across the border is a sure way to land in prison or a labor camp, so you will dress in layers but not too many in case you are searched.”
I can see Mother taking mental notes, and I am getting more nervous and excited with each precise instruction.
“When asked why you are going over, say you are buying clothing or a special food item. Any other reason will not be worthy, and they will send you home, or worse. Once in West Berlin, do not make your visit lengthy, but don’t make it suspiciously short either. First go to your relatives’ house, and leave your extra layers of clothes. Then, it may be wise to buy something small to avoid contradiction,” her eyes are still staring at the map and following the outlined routes as she speaks as if they will come to life at any moment, “Some days, the different soldiers at the train station may be more hesitant in letting you go over. Don’t push them. Just come home, and we will try again the next day.
Imagining the consequences of our journey is terrifying. Stories of people put in prison, sent away to labor camps, or even killed have been flooding the news and trying to drown us in fear, but despite the danger, one thing is for sure. We will begin our journey tonight, and we will escape.