Finding work outside of the Russian Ruble fueled Government projects was not easy. We did find a few jobs bricking homes, but those projects were of type that we finished each of them inside of a week. While the brigade was bricking a home, I had to be out on the streets looking for people who wanted to rebuild. If we could find them, they would pay us in East German Marks, the DDM money German Democratic Mark. We believed that once we escaped, Bill would help us covert our money into West German Marks. He knew all about that stuff.
All of us were tight with our money. We didn’t go out and splurge on things. Actually, Eastern Germany had an economy that was crawling back from knocked out to almost awake. Western Germany was dancing along. The American GIs who were stationed there after the war, were spending their money like they would if they were back home in America. The West Germans hated them, but when the GIs laid their money on the counter to pay for something, the West Germans didn’t turn away from it. We wouldn’t have turned away from either. We were realists. We didn’t like the war any more than any other German, and we knew who had started the war, but the Madman was dead, and we had to deal with the aftermath as best as we could.
We had returned to the apartment one evening after work and turned on the radio. The announcer was reporting a major Intelligence coup by the allies. We had the radio set on a West German station because we wanted to hear truthful news not censored by Communist thugs. We always moved the dial off of the West German station when we turned the radio off in the event that the Communist police ever came into our apartment if we were away for the day. They could do that any time they wanted to. Their behavior reminded me of the time, during the war, when the SS could drag people out into the streets and beat them in front of everyone.
Anyway, one of the guys tuned the radio to a Western radio station. The announcer sounded happy as he read the news about the Intelligence coup. He was saying that the East German authorities and the Russian Army had created a plan to secretly, during the night, move all the way across Berlin, past the Brandenburg Gate and take all of Berlin under Russian control.
The odd thing was that two or three times a week we would hear that the Allies were going to gear up and push the Russians out of Germany completely. We learned to discount those stories as wishful thinking by Germans who hated Russians. Their conspiracy theories made for interesting conversations and invasion suppositions. But this thing about the Intelligence coup, had a ring of truth to it, to us, at least, because we had placed a camera, with a microphone in the wall of the Intelligence building. The more we talked about it the more nervous we became. The more nervous we became, the more scared we became. Finally, the guys asked me to put a note in Bill’s drop box asking him to come and talk to us.
I wrote on a slip of paper, “Ivan: We would like to talk to you about some cookies. Fritz.” I stuck it in his hole between the bricks and headed back to the apartment. As I walked back to the apartment, I thought the few people walking on the streets that dark evening. Most of them would even be cordial or say good evening. Some of them gave a look that dared me to say anything at all. I thought to myself, this is caused by the intelligence coup? I’d better get back and tell the guys.
I ducked my head, pulled my cap low over my forehead, and scurried home. When I arrived at the apartment, I told the guys that I had delivered the note. Then I told them about how strangely people were acting on the streets.
Erwin volunteered, “Oh, yeah! Ever since we heard the announcement on the radio! Just look across the street at the dark windows. Many of the windows used to be lighted against the darkness. He walked to the window and pulled back the curtain. He waved a hand toward the sparse living quarters up and down the barren Berlin boulevard. It’s like the war, All over again!”
A knock at the door made all of us jerk ...