The day when the trabants came

The day when the trabants came

The invasion from the east came from the south and not in armored tracked vehicles. Trabants and wartburgs rolled up to ebern’s balthasar-neumann barracks. They had a few hours head start. Am 9. November 1989, when the wall came down in the evening, the opening of the border had already begun in the baunach area. Since the summer, GDR citizens have fled to the west, mainly via hungary and czechoslovakia. On 3. November GDR state council chairman egon krenz gave in to the CSSR’s urging and allowed the GDR citizens in the prague embassy to leave directly for the FRG.

In a reception center near deggendorf, the GDR resettlers who were streaming westward from czechoslovakia were handed copied maps that showed them the way to ebern. Of all things, into a military installation, this small mosaic stone of western deterrence.

Within a few hours, the german army and the red cross had set up a registration head and quarters there, which were to become the first home of the mostly young eastern families in freedom for four days. Some stayed in the region, many found shelter with relatives or acquaintances throughout the federal republic, the rest were forwarded to hammelburg.

How quickly a satellite town comes into being

Overnight, nothing in ebern was the same again. The rather sleepy little town had become a trot(i)anten town. Grumpy french, who for decades had bemoaned their fate in the shadow of the iron curtain, rediscovered their friendliness, soldiers scuttled their enemy image. The trabants chugged through the narrow streets towards the amtergebaude, where information and burial money was available. The guards, who usually look critically at every driver, kindly opened the turnpike for the two-stroke vehicles. The aldi-market reported "state of siege" – and no one in the long queue at the checkout was complaining about the eastern immigrants.

A breath of world history blew through the city gates – and these were turbulent times for newspaper editors in the province, too. Still on the evening of 9. November it went from the local editorial office to the central office in bamberg, select the pictures, write a commentary. There was still a lack of understanding and it was unsatisfactory that a young couple had to take the detour via the czech republic to travel the almost 30 kilometers between heldburg and ebern.

And then the outcry of the colleague from the political editorial department on the office floor: "they’re opening the borders"!" The unbelievable astonishment was followed by a look at the live feeds on the television and the teletypewriter. Comment paraphrased: "what was unimaginable weeks ago became reality…". Exciting days and weeks followed.

This also included official assistance for the federal armed forces. Since the command staffs in ebern did not yet have fax machines in 1989, the press liaison officer lived up to his job title and commuted several times a day from the barracks to the FT editorial office to use its fax machine to send the data entry forms to a red cross coordination office in the karlsruhe area to bring together families who had lost each other in the course of their odyssey.

Off to freedom, off to aldi

Small-scale cross-border traffic quickly took off via the mellrichstadt-eubenhausen border crossing. Had in the night of 9. November only an unbelievable DDR-burger "ruber made", in order to kiss the western ground and to return immediately, as everywhere at the falling border, the flow of purchases in the direction of bad neustadt and ebern began the following day. Bad konigshofen was left behind. "There is no aldi there", revealed a woman from meiningen, while in ebern the fruit was brought directly from the truck down among the people of the working people.

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