WHEREVER THEY MAY BE
© 1972, The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation
 
 
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the Press Association for Foreign Affairs in Berlin was late in arriving. Very few foreign journalists were to be permitted to attend this conference. In despair I took a plane to East Berlin at my own expense, insisted, and finally obtained the precious papers. I went to Erfurt in an automobile with two journalists from the Gamma press agency, whom I helped out by getting them through the police checkpoints, for they lacked the magic tickets of admission.

When I stood on the platform of the Erfurt railway station, only a few feet away from Willy Brandt and Willi Stoph, the Prime Minister of the German Democratic Republic, and watched them shake hands like men who admired each other and were being united after a long separation, I felt a kind of exaltation. The Erfurt conference put a de facto end to Adenauer's pretensions that Bonn alone represented the interests of Germany as defined by her 1937 boundaries. It was also a point of no return on the road to the de jure recognition of East Germany as a sovereign state by Bonn and by the West.

When Brandt came out of the station, I was so close that he saw me, and he allowed a smile to creep over his solemn face. Many of Erfurt's young people were there, a large number of whom had probably come out of curiosity and others because they had been given a holiday to swell the crowd and shout slogans. The spontaneous reaction was very characteristic of the East Germans. When Brandt and Willi Stoph reached the end of the red carpet that stretched between the station and the hotel on the opposite side of the square, the demonstrators could not restrain themselves, but overturned the barriers, shoved aside the security police, and surrounded the two "Willies."

In the afternoon I went to the Buchenwald memorial when Brandt did. It was freezing cold and snowing a little. The monument is on a small rise, and Weimar can be seen from it. Not far away, on the Ettersberg, had stood the concentration camp where more than sixty thousand persons were killed.

Willy Brandt was accompanied by East German Foreign Minister Otto Winzer. They walked to the memorial tower, which was decorated with East German flags, and then visited the crypt. An honor guard of the East German national army and an army band were drawn up before the monument. Brandt walked behind soldiers carrying a wreath, and went down alone into the crypt while the band played – I think for the first time in the Democratic Republic – the Federal Republic anthem. It was a tribute free of
    
   
 
WHEREVER THEY MAY BE
© 1972, The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation
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