We five in the work brigade cheered again at the end of that work day when the foremen were standing at the project exit gate. waiting for us. None of us in the work brigade owned a car. We were accustomed riding a trolley and walking to work. The foremen owned cars. They were party members and were privileged, but they didn’t want to haul the five of us around, so they drove ahead of us telling us they would see us at the Kellar. The walk to Zum Kellar was only a kilometer away, so, we walked.
Zum Kellar was in the basement of an apartment building. The building was one of the few in East Berlin that was not blown apart by the bombings of the American bombers during the war. The owners had signs all over the cellar bragging that they were “Still here” in spite of the Americans. They had pictures of crashed American bombers posted. I suppose they had to do that because they wanted the business of the Communist party members. The party members were the ones with the money.
When we arrived, the foremen had several tables pushed together, and five steins of beer were upon the tables. At that time in Germany, there was no age limit on how old a person had to be in order to drink beer. The five of us in our work brigade were 17 and 18 years old. There was no problem for us. Our main worry was where we would need to go to find stone masonry work. We paid close attention when the foremen, visiting among themselves started talking about future projects. From what I could make out from listening to them talk, Stalin’s current beautification of East Berlin was to last two more years. Then Stalin wanted to “remodel” Dresden. To my mind, we five would be okay for maybe two more years. Then, if we could convince one or more of the foremen to take us with them, we would be okay for another year or two.
That is pretty much how it turned out with a couple of hitches. We laid brick for the three foremen on a regular basis for a year and a half. One evening we were sitting in the Kellar when Martin came in late. He said, “I was just talking to Julia. She told me that she heard from a friend who said that the allies are going to gather on the line between East and West Germany, and they are going to crush the Russians.”
I said “Hey, not so loud. People will hear you and turn you in to the East German authorities.”
Every day there were rumors that the allies were going to push the Russians out of East Germany and all the way back to Moscow if they didn’t do this or if they didn’t do that. Stalin tried to stop the Marshall plan by having his planes fly close, and in a threatening manner to the planes bringing food and life-saving goods into West Berlin inside East Germany. The allies responded by having American fighter planes escort the cargo planes over East Germa...