Wednesday, 11 November 2009

when Hungary broke free from the communist block

It was 1989. Mum and I would drive about 20 minutes north of Gyor to cross the Slovakian border to fill up the car, because it was cheaper. The closest border crossing was closed due to upgrading works on the bridge above the Danube, so on this occasion we had to drive to Komarom, or as the Slovakians call it: Komarno.

We were just passing the Hungarian checkpoint, and started driving up the bridge, when we saw a group of people, about 10-15 of them as they just reached the bridge half way, where the flags of the two countries were blowing in the wind side by side. As they stepped into Hungary, they raised their hands and started clapping, and cheering… Mum waived back smiling, as we passed.

'East Germans, she said. 'They are crossing over to Czechoslovakia, than to Hungary, only to continue to Austria, and to finally arrive back in to Germany, but on the West side.'

There were a number of futile efforts by the member countries to break free from the communist block previously, such as Hungary’s 1956 revolution, so no one knew whether this time it would last. Just like before, the young and restless packed up and fled immediately. East Germans couldn’t just cross over to West Germany, neither to Austria at that time, so they had to do a round trip. And thousands did as their cars with the DDR sticker (Deutsche Demokratische Republik) filled the streets of Hungarian cities along the way. Until at least the Wall fell, months later…

1 comment:

  1. During the 1970 and 80s large number of people from Western Europe spent their summer break at Hungary's popular Lake Balaton. Many of those holidaying were broken families from Germany. Cousins, aunts, uncles, grandchildren, and grandparents from East and West Germany used this as an opportunity to reunite once a year.

    Even as a child it was easy to see where each person came from, and the contrast is still vivid in my memories... Those who wore ordinary T-shirts and brown leather sandals were from the East, and those who had Adidas tops and Nike shoes were from the West. Those who were staring at the menu at the gate of the beer garden restaurants before entering were from the East, and those who kept singing inside till midnight were from the West.

    G :)