A vague sense of foreboding accompanies us as we follow our conscription order to Halberstadt on 4 February, 1986, where we are to be trained as border patrol guards. Boja, Lohengrin, Mückenfried, “LSD” Wölfi and I all know, however, that the alternative to military service isn’t particularly attractive: in the German Democratic Republic conscientious objectors were sent straight to jail. We learn fast. Acquiring the skills needed to be a border guard is not like any other form of basic training. We are being honed with such care because we’re so “very important”. At least that’s what we’re told by our hated officers, or “sackies” as we call them. They also inform us that we are “guards of the proletariat” and it is our duty to use everything in our power to protect the western borders of our socialist camp against any and all forms of attack. We ignore them – provided we’re not already falling asleep from sheer exhaustion. Let the idiots drone on …
And then we’re sent to serve on the frontline of World War Three – somewhere between Magdeburg and Helmstedt – where we soon realise that you don’t necessarily need an opponent to have a war. Still, we have to do what is expected of us. Although we don’t discuss our true feelings – our camaraderie doesn’t go that far – we are nevertheless all busy thinking: what a load of rubbish. Nobody’s going to come here. Not where I am. And then, on 25 February 1987, someone who had just turned nineteen suddenly decides to stake everything on one chance. For a few hours, the Cold War gets pretty hot. For Boja, Lohengrin, Mückenfried, “LSD” Wölfi, me, and the guy whose dream is total freedom – and not rule of law.
Holger Jancke
by Holger Jancke Germany 2003 77’

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