The Dieter and Edda Barge Report (Chart II a – IV)
Contributed be Dieter Barge
Edda’s grandparents on her mother’s side of the family were Bruno and Johanna Kegler. We called Johanna Hanna. She was a kindhearted woman. She too had to endure many hardships. Truly she had earned her last beautiful years together with her mother and Aunt Maria at Tulpen Street in Gießen. Her maiden name was Engel (Angel in English).
One of her cousins was Erich Engel, who lived after the war with his wife Berty in Hanover and served in the courts as Attorney General. For many years Erich immersed himself in family research and of course also explored the ancestry of the Keglers. Edda and I maintained an active correspondence with the Engels. So it comes as no surprise that Erich had also written much about our family. Unfortunately he passed away a few years before Gemany’s reunification. Thus, we never met in person. On the occasion of our first visit to the ‘West’ – I believe it was in 1987, I got to know his wife Berty. We had dinner with her together with Jürgen and Inge Kegler. Out of this emerged a long friendship with her. She passed away at the age of 94.
On November 9th, 1989, the Berlin Wall had come down. Günter Schabowski, the Regime’s spokesman made the fateful announcement that East Germans would be allowed to cross the border. When asked how soon, not being completely informed he replied, “As far as I know, effective immediately.”
On the same evening tens of thousands of GDR citizens were in West Berlin, and on Saturday November 11th, 1989 our family traveled to Berty’s place in Hanover. We started out at six in the morning and arrived in Hanover at 8 p.m. From the moment we entered the autobahn, we slowly drove in the notorious stop-go pattern of a horrendous traffic jam. We will never forget this trip! Today you can cover the distance in an hour and a half.
There was rejoicing everywhere. Right after the border crossing at Marienborn there was even a party going on. Berty looked at us. She had no idea that we were coming and said, “… and I have nothing at all to eat for you!”
On Sunday on our return trip there were a hundred people standing on every overpass waving at the Trabis and Wartburgs (East German cars). Later on I often went to the ‘Four Border Point’, where Berty lived, and helped a little in her apartment, whenever there was something to do. Often we had a couple of Jever beers and Doornkaat schnaps. Together we also went to Wilhelmshaven, where Erich came from. His father was employed there as senior foreman at the shipyard.
Back to Erich, he had put together about six thick volumes of more than 1000 pages, of which we have a copy. The huge family had several Engel-Reunions, besides others also the one in Weipoldtshausen at Jürgen and Inge Kegler’s. In volume five, Erich recounts a little story of a reunion in 1973 at Tulpen Street in Gießen. Jürgen and his 6-year old son Michael dropped in to see us. Michael looked at the backs of all the participants and said to his dad (Recall that the name Engel means Angel in English), “These are not angels at all. I looked at them very closely. They have no wings!”