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‘So Clean, So Colorful’ is Refugee’s First Impression

September 11, 1989

PASSAU, West Germany (AP) _ Katrin Windt took a 24-hour motorcycle ride to freedom in West Germany, awe-struck that her new home was ″so clean and so colorful″ compared with the drabness of her native East Germany.

″It was so confusing at first, all the electronics shops, the lights, the advertisements, all the cars, we never saw anything like that before,″ said the 20-year-old woman, who made the trip with her twin brother Volkmar.

They were among the thousands of East Germans who arrived in West Germany in an exodus that has drawn the wrath of the Communist leadership in East Berlin.

The twins said they had obtained vacation visas for Hungary, but they were still at a border crossing in Czechoslovakia on Sunday when they heard Hungary opened its borders to the West.

″We had visas for Hungary, so we went there and from Hungary we drove straight here,″ Volkmar said of the trip that took them through Austria and into West Germany’s Bavaria state.

″We did not really plan to come here,″ Volkmar said. ″But when we heard about the opening of the border, we decided this was a chance.″

The twins said they had left relatives behind in East Germany.

″We have left our parents and a sister in Leipzig. I think our mother realized that we may decide to cross. We have talked about it a little bit, but I don’t know what my father will say,″ Katrin said.

″We have lost all hope of reforms in East Germany,″ she added.

Katrin said she was overwhelmed by the sights greeting them in the West.

″This is our first time in the West. My first impression is that it is so clean and so colorful, especially after you come from East Germany and Czechoslovakia,″ she said.

The twins spoke to a reporter shortly after they had crossed through the Passau border crossing between West Germany and Austria.

They made the trip from their home in Leipzig on an East-German-made 250cc MZ motorcycle outfitted with two luggage boxes on the back.

Volkmar said he is a carpenter and that he had to help build stands at Leipzig’s autumn trade fair, which ended Saturday, before he could leave.

The pair said they hoped to travel south of Passau to resettle in Bavaria.

Asked if she was worried about finding a job, Katrin, who worked taking dictation for state television in Leipzig said: ″I’m a bit concerned about the future, it’s so different, we’ll need someone to advise us how things work here.″

Simone Thannert, 24, a waitress from the town of Bautzen near the Polish border, was asked what she planned to do in West Germany. She said she would take any type of work.

″Whatever the case, it can’t be worse than in the GDR (East Germany),″ she said.

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