Memories: A Job at last

I started my first job on the 2nd of January 1953.  I very much dreaded the upcoming exams at Commercial College (Höhere Wirtschaftsschule). This is why I was overjoyed when I managed to land a job. It gave me the opportunity to leave school without having to do any exams. I wrote about it in November 2009 and copy it here:

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8 thoughts on “Memories: A Job at last

  1. Glad your mother could take gaol so lightheartedly – it surely was no fun! A former colleague of mine was imprisoned in East Berlin for helping people escape to the West, and wrote about it afterwards in her book “Every Wall Shall Fall” (Hellen Battle).

    1. In January of 2012 I published a blog called “Memories from my Teenage Years”. In it I said:
      I was dead scared of the final exams. Rather than finish the second year of commercial schooling, I applied for a job which would enable me to get familiar with secretarial work. I looked up advertised jobs. In one of the ads they offered two beginners’ jobs for office work. Later I found out, that there were ninety-five applicants for these two very lowly paid jobs! And I was the extremely lucky person, who ended up with one of the two jobs!

    2. My mother was a resourceful woman, all right. She always tried to make the best of a bad situation. Some of the things she did, I could not agree with. I often felt bad for not being able to appreciate more what she tried to do for us children. In lot of ways I always had totally different opinions from hers. I thought she would have been better off to have a daughter who was more like her. Still, come to think of it, she did not get angry with me for having different views. I always felt loved by her.
      Sometimes she would accuse me of siding more with my father than with her. But I always tried to see both points of view.
      Peter and I were overjoyed when the Wall did Fall, Cat. This was more than 25 years ago. A lot has happened since then. Some good things, some things not so good.
      I ask myself, has the Cold War started again?

  2. Who can blame your mother for the two-fold goal of securing food for her children while also bolstering the struggling economy on the eastern side. My Tante Lore accompanied me on my first trip to E. Berlin. It was 1978 and she was experienced with crossing the border as she did so with student groups. She coached me on what to look for that wouldn’t be mentioned on my Checkpoint Charlie tour. She also advised me on how to leave things like cigarettes and chocolate in places where the locals might find them. She knew all sorts of ways to circumvent the silly rules. Of course, this was long after the days you speak of when no one on either side of the border had much to call their own.

    1. Hello, Linda. Think about it, at the time one Westmark was worth four Eastmark. This was the exchange rate. West-Berliners, who went to East-Berlin, exchanging their Westmark into Eastmark, and then buying bread with Eastmark, went there to make a profit, not to help East-Berliners!
      In 1977, after having lived in Australia since 1959, we went to West-Berlin for a visit. to see our mothers and our siblings as well as some
      friends. We also went for a day-visit across the border into East-Berlin to see Peter’s cousin Ingrid and her husband, Erhard. They were the most friendly hosts. Over the years we visited them again and again. Their life was tough because of all the shortages in the GDR. Still they managed all right under difficult circumstances. They were happy when we gave them some coffee, for they loved coffee. This was one of those things which were very expensive and hard to get in the GDR. We felt we could easily afford to buy coffee in the “West”.

      As far as I remember cigarettes were much cheaper in the East. Some West-Berlin smokers would sneak into East-Berlin just to buy their cigarettes “on the cheap”.

      1. You may be right about the cigarettes. I don’t remember what all Lore would hand out as tips. I do remember chocolate was one of the things. Perhaps E Germans weren’t allowed to use GDR Marks, so that was why she brought “things” for exchange. I don’t remember the details. I remember only that she was adamant about how badly the E Berliners had it and that she wanted to help in whatever ways she could. Her family had fled Berlin before it was sealed off.
        Although she could not accompany me on the bus tour because of her German citizenship, she advised me where to look to the opposite direction at certain times when the tour guide would direct everyone’s gaze to some specific attraction that the DDR was proud of. Thankfully, today Berlin is a completely different city.

      2. For sure, Linda, a lot of things have changed after the Fall of the Wall. West-Germans were not allowed to buy with GDR money. They had to change their West money into GDR money at the exchange rate 1:1, meaning for one Westmark they would get only one Eastmark. These rules applied after the wall had been built in 1961.

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