13 August 1961
erection of Berlin Wall
“1961 was that year when World War III was about to happen. Living with my family in Southern Germany, like all years before, I was spending my summer holidays also in 1961 with my grandparents in Eastern Germany – in Jena, a famous university town. On 13 August, however, life suddenly was standing still, because World War III was nearly happening.
The Communist government of Eastern Germany was erecting the wall in Berlin and closed the borders to Western Germany, and suddenly 10 thousands of West German visitors were imprisoned behind the iron curtain, my family was not allowed to leave the town or the country.
Many days of the uncertainty passed, East and West Germans remained in paralysis – what would happen not only with us, would we ever return home, would I ever see my friends again – what would happen to the world? Would it the beginning of the end? Only after 10 days of fear and anxiousness, it was clear, all the West Germans who wanted to spend their holidays with their relatives in Eastern Germany, were allowed to leave the country, and World War III was happening just in our mind 10 days long.”
These experiences were traumatic not only for the 11 years old Wilfried, but all generations born and growing up after World War II.
They had an enourmous impact on Wilfried’s life and his view on violence. Having experienced a kind of violence like never before or after, Wilfried is describing in his autobiographical novel, how the family entered in August 1961 the border of Eastern Germany at the checkpoint “Probstzella”, he experienced for the 1st time completely dehumanized Communiste border guards like Wilfried had read about only in books about the Nazi terror, this trauma was leaving deep traces.