Spoke with a young woman today at our local grocery store. It’s increasingly difficult for me to determine age, especially with women, but let’s just say she was somewhere between 22 and 26 years old. While my coffee-to-go was being poured and lidded, I muttered something about the fantastic weather were having right now. That it’s just as it should be in here in DDR. I’ve been using this metaphor for a few years and never thought much about it. The girl smiled at me politely but with the slightest twist of perplexity in her eyes – signaling loud and clear that my reference to the communist era acronym for East Germany and the Cold War had not registered whatsoever.
She seemed to have heard of Europe’s communist past – but the fact that Germany had once been divided into two countries for a long time, was fresh news to her. So, to shine some light on my sarcastic remark, I gave her a 30 second summation about Honecker’s DDR and how social equality was so fiercely dogmatic and furiously implemented that everything and everybody in East Germany was portrayed (by western media, at least) as grey, robotic and uniformly dull. Just like the weather right now. After the short lecture, the young woman nodded with polite bewilderment in her gaze, smiled and then handed me my coffee and off I went – realizing for the first time that I was now on the far side of generation gap. The photo above is from a press trip that took me through a village near Bavaria that had been divided during the Cold War and reunited in 1991.