of the two Berlins my own. For
me Berlin did not end at the Brandenburg Gate as it did for those around me; it
extended along Under den Linden, which was mine just as the Tiergarten was. I
knew nothing of politics or history, but deep down I felt that in spite of all
appearances, Berlin was still a single city. I even preferred the charm of the
Eastern Zone, as somber and poor as it was, for there I seemed to meet up with
a past I had not known. It was doubtless during these wanderings, on which I
did nothing but daydream, that I became convinced, contrary to all facts, of
the strange unity of my country. I was lonesome, but through the scattered
compost of the two Germanys my roots were sinking deep into German soil.
On March 7, 1960, at 7 A.M., I first saw Paris. The sky was gray, the
Gare du Nord was gray, my mood was gray. My mother had predicted the worst
misfortunes; to her I was not merely ruined, I was already lost. My father had
turned his back on me. To him Paris was the whorehouse of Europe, and he saw me
consigned to the streets.
I knew only a few words of French, so I
immediately enrolled in the Alliance française. Three days later I
became an au pair girl, and I remained one for more than a year. I was
sorry that in that home and family I was not treated a little like the eldest
daughter. Many German girls came to Paris to learn French and to come into
contact with French culture and ideas, but few of them really took advantage of
all Paris had to offer. They often went back home dissatisfied with the hard
life they had led.
On rue de Belvedere, in Boulogne, I slept in a
disgusting attic and trembled with fear of the spiders. Twice a day I took the
child of the family to school, and twice a day I picked him up again. Seven
hours a day I washed, ironed, cooked, and cleaned. As I was a hard worker
and also fond of cleanliness I had not yet learned to restrain my
zeal. So in the evenings I was almost too tired when it came to studying my
lessons in the blue Alliance française textbook about a model French
couple, Monsieur and Madame Vincent, who surely would not have given so much
work to girls who had come to France to love it.
Fortunately I got
fired. I had had the nerve to invite a couple of friends over one Sunday, and
my employer had returned to catch us watching television his television.
So I moved in with the Fallauds, on rue Darcel at the edge of