Say it in English

I was born in a little sleepy Thuringian town in a country called German Democratic Republic, which kept me from doing many things, such as talking openly to people, or studying what I wanted, or travelling to most countries of the world.

So I talked openly to my friends only, and I studied the subject they let me study, and I travelled to the East, as far as I could, and that was very far if you spoke Russian and knew how to use a transit visa.

English has always been the language of freedom for me, the door to the world behind The Border, the dreamland where The Beatles resided. Big thoughts and unspeakable truths could be expressed in that language. Improbably powerful people, like American presidents or gangsters of Chicago talked in that language. Simon and Garfunkel made you feel groovy.
The best thing about English was that everybody Out There spoke it.
English was cool.

They did not let me study English as an interpreter or a linguist, so I took what they offered me: an English and Russian teacher as a subject of study.
After I came back from a year in the Soviet Union (where I had met people that tremendously impressed me), I was sure I didn’t want to become a teacher in the GDR. I quit. I worked as a church employee, a gardener, an interpreter, I taught English at an evening school, I learned to play the flute and the recorder, I taught the flute and the recorder, I played in a band.

Then it was 1989. With some friends, we got ourselves transit visas to the Soviet Union and cycled from Leningrad along the Baltic coast and then through Lithuania, busking in the streets.
At that time, demonstrations had started in the Baltic Soviet republics. People were angry. They wanted the Russians out and they said so, publicly, in the streets. They wanted the fact of the Hitler-Stalin Pact to be published. They wanted the fact of their family members going missing in Siberia to be published. They wanted some more things which I did not understand.

I could not believe what I saw: demonstrations, resistance against Them. It was unthinkable.
And yet, some months later, something similar happened in my country. An incredible thing. People started to go out and speak their minds in public.
Some people hoped for a better Germany, one without the old regime but with a better system than that of West Germany. A third path.
But those who wanted Western money and Western wealth as quickly as possible were stronger than the dreamers. Little East Germany ran into the open arms of its worldwise and clever big brother.
I have tried to express all this in my first novel “Ostwind”. You can find the synopsis and two chapters in English below on this site.

I was a Federal German now; I was allowed to study again. I could even go to England, the birthplace of that language I was still faithfully in love with (although I have come to like the Russian language too, especially for its resourcefulness of loving diminutives).

So in 1994, I bought a Trabant for 100 Deutschmarks, put my little son and myself into it and took off for England. I the year I stayed there I learned a lot about the English language, about social classes, about life as a single mother in a Western country. I met some truly wonderful people.

This time I finished my studies. I even finished my teacher training, which some of my tutors and training supervisors made the most frustrating and miserable period of my life.
My second novel “Ohne Noten” is based on my experiences during that time.

Now I am a teacher. Loving the subjects I teach, English and Music, is not always helpful, since students can’t be expected to love them, too, but what else should a teacher aim for?
Also, being part of the German school system (which isn’t a system, really) is not easy for me. The idea of sorting children at a young age into schools of higher or of lower social value sometimes seems utterly alien to me, yet I work for one of these schools and I feel part of it.
The problems resulting from children being sorted into the “wrong” schools are wearing out children and parents as well as teachers.

Since a lot of interesting, funny, exciting or bizarre things happen in a school, I write about them. I have started a wall newspaper called „Die Klappstunde“ in the staffroom of our school and since some people keep asking about them, you can find them now on this website, too.

Recently I have finished my third novel “Turm und Schwalbe”, which is a love story involving a Catholic priest. It also touches the theme of Stasi involvement and reasons for it. I am still looking for a publisher for that novel.

I have two sons and a wonderful partner, and I live in Weimar with my family. I try to divide my love, passion and time in equal parts between my family, my students, my friends, writing, making music and speaking English. I know that is not possible.
I keep trying.