Today's 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall takes me right back. Here's an excerpt of my upcoming book I once had a Farm in Ireland.
"The political situation in Germany that had influenced our decision to buy an escape place in Ireland had changed. The historical landmark for that was the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989.
Ask any American where they were on 9/11, and they will know. For a German, the equivalent date is 11/9, the day the Berlin Wall opened in 1989.
On that historic day, I was away from Germany on a two-week golfing vacation by myself in Tunisia. During the preceding months of world-changing events in Eastern Europe, I had been elsewhere mentally because of the drama going on in my own little world.
Mac fixed a date for our emigration. It was his decision. I only reluctantly supported the idea and still went to therapy to get used to this change in our lifestyle. I needed a break.
Mac and his mother stayed back in Germany to mind our children, then two and five years old, so that I could have a holiday, recharge my batteries and come to terms with our future.
The resort of Port El Kantoui provided enough distraction: sun, beach, food, and golf. In those pre-Internet days, my hotel didn’t have a TV in the room. What I heard on the news in the noisy lounge bar was unfathomable: Hungarian and Czechoslovakian borders had opened to let Eastern Germans leave their country. Calling my husband back in the Fatherland, I found him equally puzzled. We both watched developments anxiously. Our firm belief was that Mrs. Thatcher would rather give up Northern Ireland and let it reunite with Ireland than the Soviets would tolerate this insurrection. They had intervened before in Prague in 1968 and suppressed Hungarian liberation attempts in 1956.
Living in Germany during the armament race and the Cold War in the 1980s had always felt like living on a powder keg. This situation in 1990 had all the hallmarks of escalation. One evening, I was so troubled by the developing news in eastern Europe that I suggested to come home earlier to have the family back together.
“Let’s watch on TV if there are Russian troop movements, you from Tunisia, and we from here,” Mac said. “If the Soviets are sending tanks westward, don’t bother to come back to Germany — then it will be time to reconvene in Ireland. The Americans won’t just stand by and watch. There’ll be war.”