Run to the West Pt. 1


Erika Hoffmann was afraid as she walked through the dark, rain soaked streets of Eisenach, a small town just inside the border of East Germany. She should not have been out at this hour, ninety minutes after the curfew of ten o’clock which had been imposed in January.The soviet rulers had been worried about people attempting to escape to the west and if she was caught by the Stasi who knows what would happen to her.People sometimes disappeared without warning.The fact that she had been visiting her friend and lost all track of time would not matter at all to the authorities. No, they would automatically accuse her of some kind of subversive activity or, worse, trying to escape to the west!She had lived all her life in Eisenach, from birth in 1922 until now and, at thirty one years of age she should be married and have a family but, because of the war and subsequent occupation by the soviets she had not met anyone she wanted to marry.She was tall and slim, with jet black hair and dark brown eyes. The very opposite of the girls featured in the Nazi posters for the Bund Deutscher Mädel, the League of German Girls.Both her parents had been shot by the Nazis for daring to stand up to them when their home was raided after a neighbour accused them of being Jews in 1944. Luckily for Erika she had been away from home at the time and had not been involved but after the soviets arrived things were no better. The Russian soldiers were like animals and hated all things German. They were out for revenge for what had happened to them when they were invaded and no woman was safe. Many being raped and even murdered.Now, in 1953, things were a little more settled but the whole community lived in fear. Neighbours informed the police of everything, curtains constantly twitched and Erika had to be careful not to be seen going into her apartment for fear of a neighbour informing on her!She had taken off her shoes so there would be no sound from her heels as she flitted from shadow to shadow, stopping constantly to look and listen, pressing bahis siteleri herself into a doorway when a police patrol drove past. Her dark woollen coat helped her to blend in and not be seen as the car drove slowly by, her heart beating so loudly in her ears she was surprised they hadn’t heard it. For a second she thought the policeman in the passenger seat had seen her as he looked straight at her but, no, they continued on their patrol without even a pause and, once again, the street was empty and quiet.As soon as the sound of the car had faded away, she made a dash across the road to her apartment house.“Hey!”, a man’s voice shouting, “What are you doing there?”Erika froze in the doorway, not daring to breathe. There was a crash and a dog yelped.“Get away from here, damned dogs!”A door slammed and quiet returned once more.Closing her eyes she let the stale air escape from her lungs. She heaved and felt the bitter taste of bile in her mouth but managed to keep the contents of her stomach from escaping and, without wasting any more time, opened the door with her key, crept silently past the concierge’s door and along the corridor to her own home where, once inside, she leaned her back against the front door and breathed a sigh of relief.She was angry at having to be so afraid. This should be a civilised community, she should not live in fear for her safety just because she had overstayed at her friends house.From what little TV they were allowed to see, Erika was sure her cousins in Bad Hersfeld, just a few kilometres across the border in the west, didn’t have to worry about such things.She thought often about her cousins, Markus and Franke. She visited them often in happier times but since the country had been divided she had not seen them at all. They wrote often to each other but had to be careful in case her mail was intercepted and checked.She knew that Markus had become a policeman after the war. He was younger than she was, just twenty seven, and his sister who was the same age as Erika, was an ambulance canlı bahis siteleri driver. They had survived the war as Franke had become a nurse in 1939 and moved to ambulances in 1943 and when the war came to a close, Markus had deserted and Franke hid him until it was safe.The walk back from her friends home tonight had finally convinced Erika that she was not going to live like this any more. She had been frightened almost out of her wits and there and then she decided it was time to escape to the west to join her cousins and be free once more.The only problem she had was how to cross the border. The security was watertight now and anyone caught trying to get through could be shot.Later, as Erika lay awake in her bed, she thought about how she would get across. There was the fence with barbed wire and there was also, possibly, a minefield. Even if there wasn’t, there were almost certainly alarms and she had seen the watch towers and armed guards for herself.She decided that the best method was the railway as the train stopped at both Eisenach and Bad Hersfeld. How she would do it, though, was a different matter altogether.Her friend Elsa, whom had been visiting, was a ticket inspector on the Deutsche Reichsbahn. She knew that train crews were changed at the border for West German staff but Elsa could get her on board and she would know where to hide for the border inspection.Elsa Schröder was the same age as Erika. Her father had been killed in August, 1944 during an air raid by the American 91 st bomb group and her mother passed away soon after. The doctors said she had a heart attack but Elsa preferred to believed she had died from the grief of losing her father.As a result of both losing their parents in such tragic circumstances the two women had grown up together. They had no other friends and Elsa didn’t seem that worried that she had never met a husband. When she worked she always wore trousers instead of a skirt and although she was very pretty and had a stereotypical Germanic appearance of blonde canlı bahis hair and blue eyes she kept her hair cut short so, when she wore her uniform she looked more like a young boy than a grown woman.Since the death of their parents, almost a decade before, they had become very close and trusted no-one but each other so now that Erika had made this life threatening decision the only person she could turn to was Elsa and that would have to wait until she next saw her.Turning over on to her side, Erika closed her eyes but sleep would not come. The fear she had experienced and the concern about her future would keep her awake all night until daylight began to fill her room as the first day of the rest of her life began.It was Sunday. The dress shop where Erika worked was closed and she had the day to herself. Elsa was also off work as this was her Sunday off too.About midday, Erika walked the half kilometre to her friends house and knocked on the door. It opened slowly and a worried Elsa peered out. When she saw who it was she said urgently,“Come in, come in” and a big smile appeared on her face. Closing the door behind them she threw her arms around Erika’s neck and held her so tightly she thought it would snap!“Oh ’Rika!” she said eventually, “I was so afraid you would be caught. I couldn’t sleep all night”.Erika’s arms squeezed tightly around the others waist as she hugged her and she replied,“I know, I am sorry but I didn’t dare call you in case anyone was listening in.”When they finally separated, Elsa took Erika’s hand and looking into her deep brown eyes said,“I couldn’t bear it if anything happened to you. You are all I have left.”Erika smiled. “I know,” she said, gently, “I know.”Elsa continued.“I never told you but when the Russians came they hurt so many people in ways that were unimaginable to me and when I saw what they were doing I cut off my hair and swore that no man would ever touch me like that. I made myself look like a boy so they would leave me alone.”Erika’s jaw dropped.“Elsa! I never knew. I just thought it was a style you liked.”“You weren’t here, Erika, you never saw what happened to the women here. They were animals!”“I know, I heard. It wasn’t my fault though. How could I be here when I had been sent to work in Berlin?”

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