Potraitfoto Tom S.

Tom S.
50 Jahre
Chemnitz (Karl-Marx-Stadt)

In September 1989, they kicked me out of university because I distributed “illegal leaflets” for the civic movement, “propositions for a democratic transformation in East Germany.” After that, I attended demonstrations that were held at the Luxor. After the fall of the wall we were hesitant to go to the West to pick up our Begrüßungsgeld (welcome money), because we had already applied for a Swiss visa. In the end, we had two visas – one for West Germany and one for Switzerland. There were endless traffic jams in the West and whatever you could buy there also became available in Switzerland afterwards. But then we received a phone call from my aunt, who tipped us off about where the rush wasn’t as bad, so on the 18th of November we took a spontaneous trip to the West in the direction of Coburg. In Neustadt bei Coburg, my parents and I picked up our Begrüßungsgeld (welcome money). The pay-out station had been set up in an improvised room, maybe in a school, where they handed us a brand spanking new one hundred mark note and then stamped our passports. I purchased my very first Western record in a second-hand book shop in Coburg: “Einzelhaft” by Falco. I was as proud as punch. It contained “Maschine brennt” and “Ganz Wien”. I also bought a tube of hair gel. I was a New Waver in the 80s and had a hairdo to match. Then I also got a Michel stamp catalogue – I had been a collector since I was a child and Western relatives helped me – and some drawing material. After all that, I hadn’t even spent half of my first bit of Western money. I still have it all to this day – even the hair gel.