Back then I thought the campaign with the Begrüßungsgeld (welcome money) was strange. In the time after the wall came down what was predominant for me was the feeling of uncertainty. I didn’t entirely trust the situation being more of a waverer myself. I felt I could not foresee the way things would turn out but ultimately I also didn’t want to miss the opportunity.
At that time I lived in Kleinmachnow, which was completely surrounded by West Berlin and could only be reached through three access points. My aunt watched my children and I went alone by bus to Berlin-Steglitz. When I got out, there were students waiting for ‘Ostler’ (people from the East) and holding out biscuits broken in halves. I felt like a monkey in the zoo. They probably meant well, which is why I accepted it, but inside I felt affronted.
Up until the very last moment I did not believe everything was going to go smoothly with the “welcome money” perhaps also because there was nothing ever pleasant about dealing with the authorities. But I got the money without any problems from a bank employee behind a pane of glass. When back on the bus, I suddenly felt great joy. It was amazing that crossing over the border and picking up the money had been so easy. I don’t remember anymore on what exactly I spent the money. It was not of great importance to me. It remains connected to that feeling I had at the sight of those biscuits offered to me.