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

January 2013

Ingrid E. with her mother and friends in Potsdam on New Year's Eve
(ENM 003268)


New Year's Eve 1960 On that New Year's Eve, 1960 ended and 1961 began – a year that went down in history for unpleasant reasons. On that night, though, no one knew what was to come. Perhaps Ingrid E. knew somehow that this would be a special year for her. And maybe she even knew that it would be her last New Year's Eve in the GDR...

Just before the war ended, Ingrid E. moved in with her grandparents in Klötze (Sachsen-Anhalt). After the withdrawal of the Americans and the billeting of the Russians, flight became an everyday topic for her – even while she was still a young child. For one thing, refugees began arriving from East Prussia and, for another, many villagers fled from the Russian occupiers. Over the course of her life, the topic of flight always remained present. At one point, for instance, the entire staff of the skin clinic where Ingrid E. worked as a nurse fled. In 1960 she began working in the People's Police Hospital in East Berlin and, at the same time, began preparing her own flight.

This picture shows Ingrid E. with her mother in Potsdam on New Year's Eve 1960/1961 – the last New Year's Eve she ever celebrated in the GDR. Using her identification card from work, she fled to West Berlin on August 8, 1961 via the S-Bahn over Friedrichstraße. She had brought her mother to the West just one day before. Ingrid E. was one of 1.4 million refugees who went through the Marienfelde Refugee Center. On August 13, 1961, the day the Berlin Wall was constructed, Ingrid E. was flown out of West Berlin into West Germany, where she settled in Hildesheim.