Hans was still a child. A simple child from the country, from Beeskow in the Mark. Before he had to fight in World War II and died in Stalingrad in 1942, his father Erich worked as a groom. One day Hans hunkered down in the stable and overheard the conversation of some of the boys who were busy there. Then the sentence came up: “Erich has achieved nothing. His son, Hans, won’t get anywhere either. ”
But then suddenly two things coincide: the vehement intention to overcome this dependency after all, and the change in the social system.
The -war was over, Germany split in two, and Hans found himself on the socialist side, that of the workers ‘and peasants’ state, where workers ‘and peasants’ children were supposed to become something other than workers or peasants. Hans, the groom’s son, became Hans im Glück.
But not immediately. At first everything went without deviating from the given route. As was customary for many at the time, he left school after the 8th grade and learned to be a car mechanic. Then in 1953 a first tentative ascent.
The -police asked him if he wanted to go to Frankfurt ( Oder) to chauffeur senior officers as a professional driver. Hans accepted. Soon afterwards, the next step: the Ministry for State Security sent him to Berlin; Russian majors were now sitting in the back of the car he was driving. He himself became a full-time employee of the MfS and formally remained so until 1985.
In the national team of parachutists
Hans’ employer was now the state. And this state offered him much more than just driving people around in the years to come. Hans completed the 10th grade, took his Abitur and was able to pursue the sports that he was interested in – quite expensive sports – intensively and extensively: gliding, motor sports and above all parachuting. He was good at it, so good that he became a full-time competitive athlete at Dynamo and made it to the national parachutist team.
Sport and politics were closely linked in the GDR. This small state understood perfectly that it could make itself bigger with world-class services. He promoted certain disciplines in particular: such as athletics, swimming, figure skating and skydiving.
The -NVA offered Hans every opportunity. And Hans was grateful. He joined the SED, reached the rank of major within the army. And still would have always claimed to be a rather apolitical person. Which, at first glance, does not seem to go together properly, but at second glance it is by no means mutually exclusive. Because the political system had whistled for every kind of class arrogance, recognized the abilities of little Hans from the stable and then given him the means to perfect these abilities. For his part, Hans understood this very well. In the end he didn’t care whether the state benefited as much from him as he did from him. And it was not a bad state, but one that strived for peace and social justice, he saw it.
Both sides could be more than satisfied with his performance.
The -athlete, as an individual, was delighted with the merits; the GDR, as an often mocked state, was able to boast internationally.
In skydiving, Hans was really world class: By 1968 he was the first GDR athlete to have completed 2,000 jumps. He set a total of 25 records, ten of them world records. Which was extremely difficult, because it was target parachute jumps.
The -task was to jump out of the opening of an airplane at a height of several hundred meters and hit a 10 to 15 centimeter diameter disc on the ground with a spike on the heel of the shoe. That required a lot: endurance, muscles, courage.
The -thrill. How many times adrenaline pumped through his body.
From the outside, however, Hans was a quiet person. Didn’t live up to the stereotype of the sharp-talking, hacking military. Diligent, yes. But gently. In addition, slim, athletic build, with curly hair. What the women liked. Which led to a total of four weddings.
In 1970 his competitive sports career ended. For one thing, he was now 35 years old. On the other hand, the technology of parachutes had developed, from the round canopy to the flat paraglider, with which target jumps were hardly any more difficult.
The -GDR lost interest in this sport.
But the state did not let go of its protégé. Hans was allowed to study, sports teacher, at the DHfK, the German University for Physical Culture in Leipzig, an institution that only employed politically impeccable teachers, “for the systematic promotion of youth and sport” in the sense of the “anti-fascist-democratic order”. There was nothing to complain about, nothing to question, “anti-fascist”, a term that Hans, the half-orphan of the war, firmly agreed. And yet it was primarily about sport, about youth.
He thought of the scene in the stable, when he was still little Hans, the son of the groom, who seemed to have no other choice than to become groom himself. Now he was able to pass on his experiences and help young people, perhaps also from a humble background, to get on and on.
In addition to his distance learning, he was in charge of the sports office of the “#Feliks Dzierzynski” guard regiment, a military association that was subordinate to the MfS, and took care of club sports in the Treptow and Köpenick districts. After completing his studies, from 1976, he also managed the public sports facilities in Marzahn and Hellersdorf.
And then came the turning point.
The -district where he was employed offered him early retirement in 1992. And he agreed. Just wanted to get away. Didn’t want to have anything to do with any state-related activities. But the “state affinity” from GDR times could not be shaken off that easily. Because he was a member of the MfS, he was only granted the minimum pension, so he was able to declare a hundred times that he was simply a driver and athlete there, not an informer, not an informer. He was well aware of the privileges he had enjoyed before 1990: the Volga, an official’s car that he was allowed to drive; the dacha near Bernau, where he worked on weekends and could escape the stuffy city; his salary of 2500 marks per month, while the average wage in the GDR was 1300 marks. Nevertheless, he was able to take credit for having deliberately renounced certain material preferences, for example a large apartment. It annoyed him that the view of his life consisted only of prejudice and generalizations.
He withdrew. Became as clearly apolitical as it had basically always been. Left the PDS, gave up his apartment in Berlin and lived with his fourth wife in the expanded dacha. Took the dog out, chopped wood, tilled the garden. Mostly remained silent.
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