Photo. Refugees waiting to be admitted to the Marienfelde Refugee Center, August 14, 1961
© DHM-Schirner

February 2012

A pair of skis with many marks of usage, rusty
These skis from 1955, which seem antique today, have the words “ASMÜ SPORTHAUS SCHUSTER MÜNCHEN” printed on them, the name of a sport specialty store founded in 1913. The skis and a sled were Christmas presents the Wadewitz children received from their parents. Their father, Ernst Wadewitz, used his camera to record the 1955 Christmas celebration in Magdeburg, unaware that the family would flee to West Berlin in January 1956. As a member of the LDPD (the Liberal Democratic Party of Germany), he and other party members were threatened with political imprisonment; he felt that he had no other choice than to immediately leave the GDR. He informed his wife, who followed him with both of their sons and two suitcases. They were able to flee using the S-Bahn through divided Berlin. After 14 days in the Marienfelde Refugee Center, the family was flown out to Nuremberg. The children’s grandmother finally sent them the Christmas gifts they’d left behind – to their first address in West Germany, in the Memmingen refugee shelter.