ABSTRACT

During the dreary, smog-laden days of January 1989 all seemed normal and quiet on the vast ‘socialist’ housing estate in East Berlin’s Marzahn and in the old tenements of Hohenschönhausen. In the old flats in Leipzig’s Beethoven Straße and in the newer flats of the Gabelsberger Straße ‘socialist’ law and order prevailed. It prevailed from Rostock in the north to Suhl in the south. As they travelled to work in their crowded trams, buses or on the S-Bahn many East Germans probably day-dreamed about their summer holidays. Would they be lucky enough to get away on a ‘package’ for a few days in sunny Bulgaria or Romania? Or should they try for a private holi­ day in the relative sophistication of Prague or Budapest? Or would another camping site on the Baltic await them? How great it would be to go on one of those trips to Spain, Greece or Italy advertised just now on West German television. Those were countries they were unlikely ever to see despite the GDR’s ever-widening international contacts. Trips to the capitalist world were only for the chosen few.