Berlin, Friedrichstraße
Berlin-Friedrichstraße, 10117 Berlin, Deutschland
  • Story
  • Place

Flight, fear and finally safety

Available in: English | Deutsch

On December 22, 1958, a young girl by the name Louise Justen – barely sixteen years old at that time – fled alone by train from Eberswalde to West Germany in order to escape her brutal adoptive aunt and reunite with her mother. “In the S–Bahn, the Schupos, (members of the Schutzpolizei – note by the translator), with their Shepherd dogs were staring at me suspiciously. It was at half past five in the morning on an S-Bahn, so it kind of seemed strange to them what a sixteen-year-old girl was doing there. The train terminated at the Friedrichstraβe, so I had to get out. My heart was beating like crazy with excitement. This ride only lasted for an hour but it was brimful with fear, real fear. I couldn’t help myself thinking ‘Now they’ll come and arrest me and send me to Siberia’. Then I stood on the platform and ate an apple out of desperation because the pastor had told to take an apple and eat it there in order to look calm. He said that that was very important. After an eternity had passed, a man that I had never seen before came to me. It was the West-German pastor, a friend of the pastor who had been helping me. ‘Put a red headscarf on and follow me’. That was the agreed watchword. I didn’t say a thing and followed him. Down the stairs, then to the left and on the other side right again, up the stairs. Then he stopped suddenly and said: Well, child, now you’re safe. Now you can come to me. Now you’re in the West’,” recalled Justen.

Luise Justen

Luise Justen

Luise Justen was born on May 16, 1944, in Eberswalde near Berlin. She grew up as a post-war child and was raised in a difficult foster family, her childhood being marked by hardship and violence. It doesn’t come as a surprise therefore that already early on she had the desire to reunite with her biological mother in the West. In her effort, she was assisted by a priest who helped her plan her escape. After three years of preparations, she finally fled on December 22, 1959, at the age of only sixteen years, with the S-Bahn from the Friedrichstraße in East Berlin to Bernkastel-Kues in the West. There she worked as a housekeeper until meeting Felix Justen – a friend of her mother – whom she married. They had three children together but gradually she grew tired of her tyrannical father-in-law and decided to flee with her children to Wiesbaden-Medenbach, where she lives today.

Berlin, Friedrichstraße

Available in: English | Deutsch

Der S-Bahnhof Berlin-Friedrichstraße war zu Zeiten des Eisernen Vorhangs der letzte Bahnhof in der DDR vor der Grenze nach West-Berlin. Er stellte eine der wichtigsten Übergangsstellen zwischen Ost- und West-Berlin dar. Ab 1945 flüchteten hier noch viele Menschen aus der DDR in den Westen. Die Inbetriebnahme der Mauer ab August 1961 teilte den Bahnhof allerdings in zwei Teile und machte ihn von einem Durchgangsbahnhof zum Kopfbahnhof und zum Grenzübergang für Reisende aus beiden Teilen Berlins. Zwei getrennte Bahnhofsbereiche entstanden – einer für die West- und einer für die Ost-Reisenden, wobei der Kontakt zwischen den beiden Bereichen nicht möglich war. Aufgrund der unzähligen Abschiede, die Menschen hier bis 1989 von ihren Verwandten und Bekannten nehmen mussten, nannte man den S-Bahnhof „Tränenpalast“.

Memory of Nations Places Mobile App
Get the app for free in your mobile app store!