In addition to freedom of travel, access to “real” money was one of the core demands of many GDR citizens from the fall of autumn. It should be the tough D-mark. When the “new money” came on July 1, 1990, some had already experienced their first blue miracle and were suddenly short of cash. Many thousands of GDR citizens had already been given notice of termination – as was the author of this article. The money was not that new. For some, it is perhaps not known that in this country too, payments were made from July 24, 1948 to July 31, 1964 with the Deutsche Mark (DM) from the Deutsche Notenbank. Some of the aluminum market pieces issued at that time even survived the end of the GDR as a valid means of payment.
I pushed the first encounter with the (federal) German Mark long before me. That was probably connected with a certain shame that I felt at the time as a journalist and employee of the state news agency ADN. The »welcome money« of 100 DM was very reminiscent of alms. After crossing the border, a counter clerk in a savings bank branch somewhere in Berlin-Gesundbrunnen paid it out, which in December 1989 was already quite annoyed with Ossis. Over the course of the following weeks, this then surprisingly increased to a small amount for me and my then girlfriend. Not least thanks to another welcome from the Free State of Bavaria and some well-meaning gifts from the family. The money got on the high edge, for hard times or “if things do turn around the other way around”, as was popular at the time.
When Bonn agreed with the new GDR government on May 18, 1990 to create the Economic, Monetary and Social Union, the Allgemeine Deutsche Nachrichtendienst (ADN) was also struggling for existence. The government under Lothar de Maizière (CDU) had no interest. The ADN allegedly had 1,400 employees in 1989. In order to keep any chance in the German media system in the future, all structures have been mercilessly streamlined. As it turned out later, the management’s survival concept only provided for 300 jobs.
In June, the wave of redundancies hit the ADN foreign language editorial team. In the second attempt, the editors were there after the translators. The layoff talks took place on June 22, 1989. A week earlier, Günter Hundro, one of the new managing directors and long-time foreign correspondent colleague, appeased in a personal conversation: “Anyone who voluntarily disembarks cannot be helped.” Until then, the agency had understood itself as a family, which one up to now at the end of your professional life – often regardless of whether you wanted it yourself. “Mr. Morgenstern leaves the ADN due to rationalization measures,” it said succinctly in the certificate handed out on June 27. For those who were released early, “short-time work 0” applied at full salary until September. But there was a freeze on hiring for newspapers, radio and television in Berlin.
What to do, the holiday was long planned for this time. In the big crowd, it should go to Mecklenburg with bicycles and tents for two weeks. But for fear of the job, the friends had jumped – apart from one, Peter K., a classmate and now a colleague. Her own friend, as an editor even in crisis mode, was working on a kidney infection. Seven days before the introduction of the D-Mark, we got on our overloaded diamond wheels at the S-Bahn station. It went through a troubled country, through towns and villages papered with election posters and coffee and tobacco advertising. The goal was one of the three campsites on Werbellinsee. At Altenhof the question came up: »What actually happens in the pioneer republic› Wilhelm Pieck ‹? What will happen now that there are no more pioneers? «
The once strictly shielded central recreation and training center for young pioneers of the pioneering organization surprisingly proved to be open to unregistered visitors. The facility, which now operated as the “Kinderland am Werbellinsee”, did not have the expected holiday groups for a short time. You could rent rooms, otherwise unthinkable. As it turned out, the “Possner Suite”, as the receptionist whispered, was hardly worth mentioning. In any case, pioneer chief Wilfried Poßner, who apparently used to spend the night there, was probably not so comfortable with luxury.
The small republic in the Schorfheide, like the whole country, was disintegrating. The Trust was still operated by the Ministry of Youth and Sports. Several hundred people worked on the site – there was its own school, kitchens, cinema and disco, consumption, restaurant, administration, workshops and so on. Almost everyone here was afraid of the future. GDR goods were sold in the object shop, and in the employee canteen there was nostalgia for beer and schnapps in the evenings.
The next day, at the campground on Voigtwiese below Joachimsthal, the mood was better. The town itself did not make it easy for vacationers at the end of June 1990 – because shops and pubs were preparing for the arrival of the D-Mark. Goods “Made in GDR” disappeared from the display and shelves to the bare minimum. And the innkeepers cleaned the new dispensing systems, but were reluctant to service them.
My girlfriend, recovered, traveled with the rickety Wartburg. The three of us met at the campsite near Feldberg. The weather was imperial, and we had a good time on the abandoned cherry trees along the streets. A visit to the Hans Fallada Museum in Carwitz remains forever associated with this crazy summer. When it felt like the whole country celebrated economic and monetary union on July 1st, we broke off the tents – Peter K. drove the unrest home.
Successfully we, boldly, asked in Feldberg in the “Friendship” holiday home for a place to stay. Finding a restaurant was more complicated – most of the days were closed due to inventory. A good hour’s drive away, in Gransee, the first house on the square had opened. The new era had begun here – with half portions at twice the price and with canned corn instead of letscho or pineapple rings for steak.
The journey through the new D-Mark paradise led to the Baltic Sea, Rügen. What would have been an incalculable risk in the previous year was made possible in the summer of 1990 – and only that: In Göhren we spent the night in the FDGB home “Friedrich Engels” and on Hiddensee we took the luggage to the quarters from the ferry. It was that summer when the beer suddenly cost five marks. When many FDGB holidaymakers had to leave because their holiday checks no longer covered the full board of the family and the better breakfast was now only available for a fee.