Karla und Volker, M.
80 Jahre

We got married three months before the fall of the wall. Volker’s 18-year-old son waited until his father had gotten married and left for the West shortly after, in September 1989. At first, he stayed with Volker’s brother in the Eifel, where his uncle had gotten him a job. Before the turn of the year, we got into our Wartburg and made our way to Volker’s brother, and his son, for a family reunion. Our Begrüßungsgeld, which we probably picked up at Zoo station, must have gone entirely on fuel. Wartburgs, which like Trabants had a two-stroke engine, drove on a mixture of petrol and oil. In East German petrol stations you could obviously get this at the pump, but in the West we had to mix part petrol, part two-stroke oil in a large pot, stir it with a wooden spoon and then poor it into the tank with a funnel. When we got ready to go back home after New Year’s Eve, Volker’s brother said: “You don’t have to fill up again, I’ve still got loads of oil down in the garage.” And he filled up our Wartburg with his homemade mixture of petrol and oil. But what he hadn’t taken into account was that it wasn’t two-stroke oil, but ordinary motor oil. This became clear at every junction in the city centre – at every green light the engine misfired and created a small explosion. Karla wished the ground would open up and swallow her, because we must have looked like the last stupid Easterners.