Look Back in Anger

This story by Dobra was first published on the Square Pegs (squarepegs.overspillers.net) public fiction section.

Greta peered out of her sitting room window wondering what the noise was. Below was a melee of police, everyone shouting, and a few armed soldiers looking serious. She and her son Hans looked at each other, and realised what was going on. Mein Gott!

Labourers had dragged barbed wire across the small square, and secured it to poles to hold it up. Greta and Hans realised what was going on, and almost fell down the stairs from their 4th floor apartment. They rushed into the square, and looked with disbelief. The police were sealing off West Berlin from the east. A Stasi man moved towards them and asked them to keep clear. Greta screamed at him, “Mein mann is trapped over there”.

But Helmut was working in the western part of the city under licence from the Stasi, copying documents of electronics designs under his cover as a supervisor in Technische Verkauf GmbH. Life had been quite good, as his salary from the firm, was topped up by the Stasi every time he passed them some documentation.

Suddenly, he realised he was trapped in the west. The local police would not let him go back, but his darling Greta and son Hans were also trapped and not free. Alles kaputt.

After much thought, Helmut could only resign himself to never returning to East Berlin and to his family. There were even rumours circulating that the authorities were going to build a wall as a permanent structure. Over the other side of the wire, the reverberations for Greta were equally severe – fatherless Hans, and her beloved Helmut gone for ever.

As time rolled on, Hans grew up, and eventually went to a technische schule and became an engineer like his father. Greta struggled with a lonely life, and certainly missed a warm cuddle from a devoted husband. She picked herself up gradually, and with a new job began to look forward again.

For Helmut, the only thing he had in common with his new life was the German language. As an Ossie, life was far more difficult, no loving family or family fun. The whole kultur was different. He gradually started to look at the wire in a negative way, and despite the big advantages of the West, began to look back in anger at the life he had left where alles in ordnung made life easier. Two years after the wire was put up, Helmut was found lying dead on the rail track in west Berlin – his final solution.