I was born here in 1983.
We lived in a small flat directly below my great-grandmother's in a street called Südmauer.
Later we moved to Adolf - Pompe Strasse and with it the city enter of the Demmin became my "hood".
Here, on these streets I played badminton until the church bell chimed at 6 PM.
On the weekends I climbed over the fences of all kindergartens in town to test their slides and swings.
Here I grazed my knees and elbows during the bicycle races along Goethestrasse.
Here I went to the local lido - basically from the first to the last day in summer.
And, after a long day swimming I visited grandma and grandpa in their allotment. They always had "something nice" in the fridge.
Handball became my sport. Einheit Demmin was my club and Herr Besch my trainer.
Oh and most importantly, nothing was possible here without a bike.
I am Katharina. Born 1983 in Demmin, a small town in Germany's most beautiful state Mecklenburg - Western Pomerania.
I was promoted from nursery to kindergarten child in 1985 , with my mother working in the laboratory at the local hospital, and my father in the NVA ( the GDR army). Every day I would walk to the kindergarten on my own with a bread box around my neck filled with liver pate sandwiches. In fairness, it was only a stone's throw away, because I could literally see it from my bedroom window and only needed to walk along the back of the Neubau (GDR tower blocks) next to our house.
My further Demmin kindergarten career was unfortunately rudely interrupted by our move to Blankenfelde, a town outside Berlin. Here we were given a brand new 3 bedroom apartment in one of these typical GDR Neubauten. That was something every family had longed for at the time. All things brand new. Even a bath tub, central heating and a water heater, so that my mum no longer had to carry tons of coal just to heat our apartment, and which she had been force to in our old flat. Not an easy life alone with a small child, with my dad doing his duty at the national service of the NVA.
So, here in Blankenfelde life got a little easier, while my father was busy in the NVA and my mother working at a local day nursery, my biggest aim in life was to not choke to death because I had to eat beetroot compote in the kindergarten - a phobia that I continue to have until this day.
I ran away from that kindergarten too. But that is another story.
Although my cousin, born in March 1983, so the same year as I was, only she became a real "Jungpionier" (because she started school in 1989). I however was denied this "award". Unbelievable! She also had the pleasure of eight weeks of summer vacation, at least once in her life.
I, on the other hand, had my first day of school in August 1990, a few weeks before the German reunification. So by then, the fall of the Berlin Wall was less than a year ago and I proudly displayed my white dress with its purple silk bow and uncomfortable patent leather shoes at the Einschulung. We we had bought my entire outfit "in the West", in West Berlin a few days before. So my parents had spent their first ever «Deutsche Mark» they were allowed to use in the West for my «Einschulungskleid» (the dress you wear on your first day at school) and which is now in hindsight a really nice thing to remember.
But, more dissappointing for me was the actual fact, that I never became a "Jungpionier", never learned their songs or wore their blue shawl, and I never had 8 weeks vacation either.
In retrospect, pretty ridiculous thinking, at the time however I felt really mistreated!
Back to Demmin
At almost 7 years old I did not actually care about the political situation in my country nor did I fully understand it, but what it meant for me was that the four of us (I had become a big sister in 1990) finally moved back to Demmin - given that the GDR ceased to exist my dad was obviously no longer needed in the NVA.
That meant finally moving back to grandma and grandpa, to my family in Demmin and to the woods, playgrounds and streets that I knew.
So my "career in Demmin" continued after a short break. I went to primary school, first at Pestalozzi Schule, then the the Waldschule. Here vanilla, strawberry and chocolate milk were still delivered to our classes every day in glass bottles, and the delicious Wiener Sausages were available in the school kitchen in the basement. The Devener Holz (a huge local forest) was literally around the corner. My word! The playground in that forest! A paradise for anybody younger than 10.
I did not like too many subjects. P.E. and Local History and English were the ones I enjoyed most. The subject of English was actually something special in 1993, because I was at one of the first elementary school classes in Demmin in which English was taught from the 3rd grade onwards. Most generations before me, including my parents had only been taught Russian, the focus on teaching and learning English was minimal.
The streets of Demmin were our hood. Our parents let us play, regardless of whether we lived in Bangladesh (an area of towerblocks on the outerskirts of Demmin), in Meisengrund, Thälmannsiedlung or in Adolf Pompe Strasse. We cycled to the playgrounds in the forests, and arranged to meet just to play. We knew the phone numbers of our friends by heart. So when you came home from school, you threw your school bag in the corner and called your friends, that's how it worked. These were calls to landlines of course, with telephones that had a cord. So when you reached the mum on the other side it was something like "Hello, this is Fritzi, I wanted to ask if xxx can come out to play?"
House arrest and a pocket money ban were then real punishments.
Pretty much everything was played from hide in seek in the cellars of the Neubauten (only in those buildings though because other cellars were too scary) to badminton, anything that involved cycling, running or climbing. Girls against boys? No problem.
More often than not the odd ball landed on a car and left a little scratch and there were many days, the good days we came home with our knees bruised!
That's just how it was. Safe. Never boring.
We knew all the small shops and chewing gum machines in town. We knew were the best and cheapest ice cream was and when the lido opened and closed. We must have all been in the chlorine water for that long that we began to develop blue lips and started trembling. We have all come home completely drenched because the summer rain simply surprised us or we were so deeply focused that we simply did not hear the church bells chiming - a sign to come home. That meant trouble - as one thing we were taught, was to be on time. Calling or texting to say you will be late, was never possible.
And we all knew how annoying it was when you had a friend in Bangladesh or on the Stadtrandsiedlung, because you always had to cycle up a hill to get to them! A real bugger.
Bad Weather Problems
When the weather was bad in the 90s we luckily had some friends that had a video recorder. I think there were only very few girls back then who would not know every single sentence spoken in "Dirty Dancing". But beside watching movies, we used these VHS recorders to record the films that we had previously researched in in the TV magazine. A big argument only erupted when dad needed to record something himself, or accidentally switched off the recording.
Oh and while we are talking about recording. We had cassettes. Walkmans. The Charts were played every Sunday evening on the radio. Take That. Backstreet Boys. New Kids on The Block. How else could you get hold of the music that was "in" at the time? You had to record it. And everybody will probably remember those moments when the song isn't quite over and the presenter starts speaking, or the commercial starts. Or those times that the cassette ran out before the song was actually fully recorded.
There must have been many recording tragedies going on in the families at this time.
No Internet. No mobile phone. No Instagram. No facebook. Just being a child and getting to know the little world around you.
A carefree time that I enjoy thinking of and that for me is very closely connected to this city of Demmin, my hometown, its nature and its people.
geboren in Demmin Germany
Als Großmutter im Regen tanzte - Trude Teige
lives in Balestrand Norway
The Loom Film Documentary producer
writes in German and English
life stories & memories from WW2 Germany, GDR, Norway