After almost 28 years he remembers a moment in Majorca. The 20-year-old GDR citizen Tiemo Schönwald, together with his girlfriend and two journalists from “Stern”, is sitting in the courtyard of an enchanted Moorish café in the capital Palma in the spring of 1990. They talk to each other about travelling and life, they enjoy wine and foreign food.
From our Berlin correspondent Rena Lehmann
It is exotic, dissipating, it feels unreal for the two young people from the country who until recently have never been allowed to leave for the West. The moon shines brightly above them. I looked up at him and asked myself whether he had been turned on especially for us “It is a perfect evening in the new freedom that is to shape his future.
The first Zonis in Majorca “is the title of the” Stern “in spring 1990. Even oranges harvested by ourselves “is the title of our newspaper. 120 West German journalists accompany Tiemo Schönwald and another 70 GDR citizens, who are the first to travel to Majorca after the opening of the Wall. The national interest is as it would please the people of the GDR, who were not allowed to travel abroad for 40 years, at the place of longing of so many Germans.
Holiday under observation
Tiemo Schönwald is young, curious and hungry for life. He wants to explore the world, now it’s possible. He and his girlfriend are the youngest in the group and are especially popular with the journalists. Photos of the young happiness on the beach under palm trees. What does it feel like to be observed and photographed while on holiday? We were surprised, but we had fun,”recalls Tiemo Schönwald. You’re standing in a thunderstorm of flares at the airport. He’s doing one interview at a time. He liked Majorca already, but “I wouldn’t have even gone to the Ballerman as Ossi”.
What he is getting involved with the trip is not yet clear to him when he stumbles upon the offer sometime in the months after the fall of the Berlin Wall at Alexanderplatz. In front of a travel agency someone had just placed the poster when he walked by: a long weekend on the Spanish island for 200 marks, including flight and hotel. Tiemo Schönwald cannot get past it. “Can you really book this one?”, he asks me carefully.
TUI, the travel provider, quickly recognized the new market. The company announced that it plans to bring 8,000 GDR citizens to Majorca, Tunisia, Singapore, Rome, Paris and Amsterdam as soon as possible. A little later, Tiemo and his girlfriend are sitting in the first flight.
Nearly 28 years later, he did not forget this time. He has meanwhile lived in the USA and found out that he could not stay there in the long run. He studied in Bielefeld and travelled all over the European continent. But he found his center of life again where he moved away with all his might as a teenager: in Tangermünde, a small town on the Elbe river in Altmark, Saxony-Anhalt.
Tiemo Schönwald is 47 years old and employs 50 people. He tells his story in a quaintly furnished café, which he owns himself, just like the restaurant next door, the hotel above and the guesthouse on the other side of the street. “I actually surpassed what I wanted to achieve,” he says proudly.
The idea for the beginning of his career in gastronomy was born that night in Majorca. The Moorish café was of an unspoilt nature that he had never seen before. Everything that was there seemed genuine and authentic and fit. From the lights to the stones:”That’s how it should be, so that guests can feel at home somewhere,” he thought spontaneously. “It was a 1001-night construction. “Mountains of fruit stood on the tables, there were fountains.”
It’s still a long way to his own restaurant. When the Wall came down on 9 November 1989, Tiemo Schönwald sat in a barracks near the Polish border and played cards with his comrades. Only a few months earlier, he had been drafted for service in the National People’s Army (NVA). They don’t get a lot of money up there at the border from the demonstrations, the refugees and the uproar of autumn’ 89 “But we were all terrified that we would roll to Berlin with tanks at some point. The 40th anniversary was just around the corner, and everything was armed with high ammunition,”he recalls. It is difficult to judge at that time whether the SED’s leaders would eventually encounter the demonstrators with violence or not. For the early 20-year-old soldiers at the other end of the republic, such a scenario does not seem to be excluded. When she reaches the message that the border in Berlin is open in the middle of the card game, there is no stopping the young people’s soldiers. In a hurry, they fill out holiday tickets for each other for the weekend, get in the car – and drive to Berlin before one of their superiors can stop them.
On the morning of November 10,1989 Tiemo Schönwald is on the doorstep of his aunt Hilde in the West Berlin district of Reinickendorf. “Open up, the Russians are here!”, he yelled at the door downstairs, shouting to her via the intercom. They drank coffee together, and the next day he drove back to his barracks on the Polish border. “What else was I supposed to do?”
A creepy time in the army
Tiemo Schoenwald had made his peace with the socialist state long before. “I’ve been such an Ossi,” he says. He was a fan of the band Depeche Mode back then and emphasizes non-political. “This may have been our only way of protesting. His plan for the future is to study computer science in Magdeburg. But because his grades are not good enough, he is supposed to do military service for three years. He reluctantly gets involved.
“We’ve already heard in letters what was going on in the country. It was a creepy time:”The young soldiers only received information about what was going on in their country under the hand.
Tiemo Schönwald calls himself at that time, however, a “normal GDR citizen”. “I was fine in the East,” he says. I made my normal career, I was with the Young Pioneers and then in the FDJ, the whole program “What he lacked was the travelling. As a young man, he had exhausted the narrow radius in which one was allowed to move as a citizen of the GDR. “I had travelled the maximum. From Russia to Bulgaria, but I wanted to see much more of the world.”
The fall of the Wall and the unexpected freedom to travel suddenly gave his life a new impetus in every respect. Already in the winter semester 1990 he began his studies of business administration in Bielefeld. But already during his studies he realizes that he wants to return to the “wild East”. “I didn’t want to be a manager at Dr. Oetker’s or anything like that. I wanted to build something in my home country that doesn’t yet exist “is the time of great opportunities for his generation. “There must be another generation that didn’t. Whoever was around the age of 50 has lost a lot “He describes the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the following years as a time of great change.
In Tangermünde in Brandenburg, he and his family, who have a penchant for old and antique things, find a farmhouse that they want to renovate and make something of.
Tiemo Schönwald remembers the café on Majorca. And then it was clear to me that I wanted to rebuild this house the way it was 200 years ago “The” Exempel-Gaststuben “are now one of the tourist attractions of Tangermünde. Traditionally, the restaurant serves traditional meals between historical school benches and ancient stoves, there is Old Mark food, and the special “Kuhschwanz-Bier” (cowtail beer), which was rediscovered after the fall of the Berlin Wall and is now considered a regional speciality. It was always clear to me that you have to raise something tourist here in Tangermünde,”he says. Tiemo Schönwald has never regretted the step into self-employment. And I don’t know anyone from my generation who would seriously say that things were better in the GDR “, but from his point of view it takes courage and patience to make the new federal states catch up more economically. There was a lack of mature structures from large companies and suppliers, such as those in the old countries. He himself was able to benefit from the gaps. Tiemo Schönwald was on holiday in Majorca a few years ago. But he couldn’t find the magic of the first time in the café in Palma.
Here is the original German article. https://www.rhein-zeitung.de/region_artikel,-mit-ddrreisepass-der-erste-ossi-auf-mallorca-_arid,1230229.html