“We looked to the West”

  • Regine Hildebrandt
    © Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer
Dr. Regine Hildebrandt |2:07 min

Dr. Regine Hildebrandt speaking about the west and east sides of the Bernauer Strasse  
Interview 1999, GBM, Length: 2.08 min.

Since my family lived here a long time, it witnessed how Bernauer Strasse, across from the street from where we lived, hadn’t belonged to the Mitte district at all, but to the Wedding district. If there hadn’t been a restructuring of district lines, then our street would have counted as Wedding and we would have been in the West. But the border followed the boundary between districts, and so the Reconciliation Church with its few congregation members in the East was on the East side while the whole rest of the congregation was in the West on the other side of the street. Just as the church congregation overlapped there, it was the same with the designated school zones. I began school in 1947 at the age of six – at the same school that my father had gone to. And it was on the other side of the street, in the West at the corner of Strelitzer Strasse. The situation was totally ridiculous, going to this school. I learned French there and had no idea that in the East they were starting with the pioneer organization, with Russian lessons, and all that other stuff that had to do with the state doctrine. All that didn’t really play a role in our lives. You have to imagine, if you have the chance to go from your building into the West, when everything you see from your window is already the West, when you see all the banana stands there, selling tropical fruits. And around the corner we always bought a half a pound of cottage cheese from the West, or even lemons in winter. It happened gradually that we only saw the West. When demonstrations took place in the East on the first of May and everyone was supposed to hang a flag out the window, there was no way we could have hung a flag out the window, because then our flags would have hung in the West.Given all that, we were, if you will, really more connected with the West than the East – even with what was going on: Let’s say the World Festival was taking place, then there was a commotion everywhere in East Berlin, but where we lived it was quiet, because we were in the West, the street was West and we looked to the West.