After the final whistle of FIFA World Cup 1990 in Rome's Stadio Olympico I drove through the night with friends to Milan's Airport where I picked up a car to drive all the way through Switzerland and Germany to Hamburg. Feeling sleepy I picked up a hitch hiker by the name of Kay Arnswald from Dresden, just after the Wall came down and the 18 year old was tasting freedom in the West.
One hour later I dropped him off to take a quick sleep, but then sent him a student guide Let's GO USA. The next year he and then girlfriend Beatrice came to NYC, bought a cheap car and went around USA up to Alaska and down to El Salvador and Honduras in a couple of one year long trips. They stayed with me a few days and I took them out for Tex-Mex in South Austin. It proved very expensive-about $600.00- after a fender bender with an uninsured Mexican American driver as we drove out of the restaurant parking lot.
WELL, forward to 2008 and here in Dresden I go out as a guest to eat Tex-Mex at Espitas, with Kay, his new partner Perry and the 11 year old son from his marriage to Beatrice, Moritz. I offer a toast -FREUNDSCHAFT, which gets a big laugh as a reply. Freundshaft was evidently the greeting when in the old DDR members of the Free German Youth Movement, the communist Boy Scouts, greeted each other. Members were 15 plus, after being members of the Pioneers from age 6-14, where the leader called out BE READY!, and the youngsters answered ALWAYS READY! and gave a stiff hand salute at right angles to the forehead with their thumbs pointed upwards. Kay was definately not a pioneer or a FDJ member and went to secret meetings as a teen to talk against the party, led first of all by Walter Ulbricht and then by Erich Honecker.
Trying to catch up on history I visit WEIMAR, centre of the short lived Weimar Republic from 1919 after the Treaty of Versailles. It collapsed under terrible economic times and by Adolph Hitler and his Nazi Party who seized power in 1933. It's a pleasant little town with a famous theatre(which was the Republic's parliament). I also went to CHEMNITZ which was called Karl-Marx-Stadt for a number of years, and still has the look of old East Berlin as you walk into the centre from the Hofbahnhof and there is a big bust of Karl Marx still standing. I saw by the Rote Turm (Red Tower), that there was a big Arabian tent and a sand oasis with deck chairs and a wooden camel,for a short rest and a beer, near the huge Galerie Roter Turm Shopping complex. The city centre has huge well designed shopping and offices almost like Potsdamer Platz in Berlin.
It also has a huge Technical University and the lowest birth rate in Germany. Back in Dresden which mixes old and new and is lively, the public transport system is superb, but Kay says it was even better in the DDR when few people had cars. He lives in an apartment in a converted farm building in what was the country but is now a suburb of Dresden. On the street corner is a 2 metre high triangular plinth, a memorial to a dozen people who died in the Allied bombing of February 14th, 1945. In the city centre there was a STRETCH TRABANT, remember the old East German car. Well, somebody had a great idea to take visitors and married couples around in something different.
On January 21st, 2005 12 members of the NPD party at the regional assembly walked out of the chamber when a minute's silence was called for the victims of the Holocaust. They want a NEW REICH in Germany. Can you imagine getting rid of McDonalds and all those flashy big capitalist department stores!! Last, I was in a bus going to the station when I saw a sign EROTIC CAR WASH !!. I wanted to jump off, put some euros in the machine, and see what you got even withoout a car, and suds and WHATEVER- but I missed the chance.