25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, balloons take to the skies in Berlin for the LICHTGRENZE campaign – each with a story!
Berlin, October 18, 2014 – One day after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Berlin entrepreneur Anita Gödiker stood at the former Helmstedt border crossing and distributed road maps of West Germany to Trabi and Wartburg drivers on their way to the West. For her story, the Berliner has been chosen by Radio Berlin 88,8 to be the balloon godmother.
When Siemens sales representative Anita Gödiker reluctantly agreed to a relocation from Bremen to West Berlin in November 1987 at the Hotel Excelsior in Berlin, it was clear to her: You can’t stand it in this Wall city for two years and no longer, and she made it a condition of the contract.
Shortly before her professional excursion in Berlin ended, on November 7, 1989, she had traveled by car via the transit route from West Berlin to Emsland – with all the usual harassment when passing through the two border crossings in Berlin-Dreilinden and Helmstedt. It should have been the last time.
Since her mother was in the hospital and she also had to take care of her father, she had not noticed the fall of the Wall on November 9. “The next morning, a friend called me and jokingly said that they would surely occupy my apartment in Berlin now, since the Wall had fallen. As if knocked on my head, I switched on the small Nordmende television set on the corner cupboard and couldn’t believe what I was seeing.” She immediately packed her duffel bag and shouted to her stunned father: “I have to go to Berlin. Immediately! Now!”
From Hanover to Helmstedt, the oncoming lane was full of Trabants and Wartburgs heading west. At around 2:30 p.m., they reached Helmstedt. “I never wanted to be at the border crossing so quickly. The border was open, the passport conveyor belts were at a standstill. Laughing, friendly border guards with their sleeves rolled up just waved all of us who came from the West through.”
Completely out of her mind, Anita Gödiker gave away homemade strawberry jam from the local Emsland region to grateful frontiersmen. “They could smile. That made them suddenly human. As if their facial expressions wanted to express a “we-couldn’t-do-anything-for-that”. That moment still brings tears to my eyes today.
The atmosphere was indescribable. “I wanted to soak up more of that.” So she parked her car – and no one minded. Ernst Albrecht, then prime minister, was handing out hot tea, potato salad and hot sausages to the legions of Trabi and Wartburg passengers on the opposite lane.
They stood – more than they drove – in rows of three next to each other until shortly before Magdeburg. People out of control. A picture of pure joy. “An excited Trabant driver then asked me over the wire mesh fence for directions to Hamburg. Just straight ahead! I explained in the heat of the moment – gesticulating wildly with my arms.”
Then she had an idea: “I used to travel a lot with rental cars for Siemens back then. Navis didn’t exist back then, so there were always these practical road maps on the passenger seats. I collected them diligently and they were in great demand among my friends. There were about 25 signposts in the glove compartment and side pockets. She grabbed them, shouted “Who’s looking for the way west?” and threw them all over the fence to gigantic cheers.
“After two hours, I set off again for Berlin. As usual, at a stubborn speed of 100 km/h. When I was then repeatedly overtaken by speeding Westerners – but the term didn’t exist back then – at a whopping 160 to 200 km/h, I also stepped on the gas.” Now the former skeptic couldn’t get to Berlin fast enough. That evening, she was still standing at the Brandenburg Gate, full of awe and silent gratitude. At the end of November 1989, she extended her contract with Siemens in Berlin at her own request. Two years have now become 27 years.
In the days of the Berlin Wall, Anita Gödiker often visited a friend in his penthouse apartment on the corner of Charlottenstrasse and Kochstrasse. From here you had a very good view of “the other side”. “We always tried to imagine what was probably going on in the eastern part of the city right now – which wasn’t much. If someone had told me at the time that I would be opening my first business center at this very location, on the other side of the Wall, namely at the corner of Charlottenstrasse and Zimmerstrasse in 1997, I would have called them crazy.”
But miracles do happen. “I missed the fall of the Wall, but I will never forget those moments at the open border in Helmstedt on the way to Berlin, which would then become my home.”