The Canadian years, 68 the escape

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Friday 13 February 20:41


The escape

I hung over my book but the concentration did not come, the phone incident was like a repetitive film that focused more and more on details. I knew that if I had not hung up the phone, I would now be severely mutilated in the telephone booth. I was convinced that he would have put his actions to force. This was so different from the analytical, the thoughtful planning father, that he had always been, so different from what I was used to, from him. This had been raw and impulsive, as he had shown his dark side to me and I was shocked. An intimidating rough violence had come to the surface. I had learned a lot, and I had thought that I could read my father. I could only read certain aspects of him, but he had very deep waters, which he kept well hidden away. Suddenly I understood the CKXL phraseology to perfection. Tune in drop out and then some nice tunes with psychedelische music and lyrics about love and peace and happiness.

That reaches out to a society that you do not want to count as yours. CKXL really was the one who was tuned in. They had found a whole generation that struggled with problems, not anywhere near in the same extremity as my experience of that day, but you only know that if you can make the comparison. My father had briefly acted impulsively and had lowered his defenses and awarded me a glimpse into the possibilities that could be used if you did not obey him the full 100% or if you did not fit in his life. Something intense ugly and frightening had reached out through him, to me, to squeeze me into oblivion, maybe the only thing that had held him back and had functioned as a brake was the accountability, that had kept him from blowing my brains through the cell.

I rehashed the moments, I had said, ‘do not shoot me, you can’t explain that.’ That had been a fortuitous key to his thinking and that had led to the compromise, disguised as a threat, a condition, if  I did not hang up, my head would be blown off, which meant that he found the balance at that time and actually said, if you hang up then you have met my conditions. It was not about me, if it would not have had apparent consequences for him and I would been shot to pieces. It was rational, he realized he was in public and would be caught, which had kept his trigger finger bent in place. He was a predator a calculating predator. His mind hid many facets of his potential in the process and what I had just seen was not pretty. Unconsciously I had used the right argument. In addition, I only had looked in his eyes over the gun barrels and I felt that if I had not done so, my earthly days had been finished. If I had stood with my back to him, it could have ended quite differently.


I abhorred the incicent again and probably had made with me shoulders during those thoughts a shaking movement, because my sister said,’ let it go, things happen as they do, you can not steer that.’ She had observed me and I had not noticed that. I was really upset.’ I try to steer my life’, said my sister ‘and still there is much that I do not have subsequently in hand.’ ‘Look,’ she said, ‘ I'm going to live for example in BC and I had not anticipated that.’ My mouth fell open. ‘How, when,’ I asked? ‘Well first some tea,’ she said. After a firm sip and a moment of silence to prepare for what she wanted to tell me, she began.

‘Hans has had a happy childhood but in a horrid country. One day he decided to flee and he succeeded, that was before they put automatic machine guns in the border area. There was a "no go zone” between East and West Berlin with barbed wire and bloodhounds. There was also a barrier, a fence, that was under high voltage.’’ My Hans,’ continued my sister, ‘befriended in the pub a soldier who always had shifts there and so he found out which fences were electric. It was not a no man's land area that stretched into infinity, the no go zone was only a few hundred meters. But that streak was guarded by soldiers in watchtowers and they shot everyone that tried to leave the GDR. Hans worked in the building trade from his father and became a good alround carpenter. He listened to the BBC which was banned but yes, at times you all do things, which you shouldn’t just out of curiosity.’

He and some friends of his, became more and more convinced that the GDR was not the ideal state that it pretented to be. They wanted to participate in that other world on the other side of the no-go zone. They went to train in their spare time, they enrolled in an East German Athletics club and were specialized only in short spurts and hurdles and pole vault jumps. They had patience and trained for months. The trainer was well pleased with his motivated group and managed to get them a dose of anabolic muscle enhancers. They ran and jumped and did not smoke and did not drink, and trained every day until they rolled dead tired into their beds to repeat the next day the same routine after working hours. In their neighborhood, they were seen as a super sporty. When Hans thought that they would not become any faster or jump higher, the time was right. With his three friends they met at the workshop where Hans glued four reasonable homemade vaulting poles together, built up in layers to increase resilience.


They were not longer than two and a half meters, they only served to get over the electric fence without touching it. They would wait until the guard had passed and then all four would  simultaneously run, spreading out  to the first barbed wire barrier and as if it  were a hurdle, clear it. Then at full speed to the second and the third block, then jump the high voltage fence  and throw the stick away to get in to the final sprint, zigzagging to the American zone. It was a good plan, because there was no other plan. They also agreed that once started there was no turning back and that everyone would fence for himself. Because if you would like to help a wounded comrade than it also meant your end. Everything in the no go zone would be swept away by machinegun fire. You just had to hope for the best.’

She took a sip and looked ahead, look, and said, ‘sometimes things do not go as you want them to go. Hans was the only one who reached the other side where the American soldiers ran towards him and began to fire in the air to indicate to the East Germans that Hans was on American soil.’ She stopped the story. ‘His friends,’ I asked, ‘did they not make it?’ ‘No, one was torn up by a bloodhound and one hit the high voltage barrier and spread for a while a crackling blue light and the last one was riddled with bullets next to Hans. The utopian state did not treat her citizens nicely,’ said my sister.


She got up again to stir in a pan.’ Look, Hans still doesn’t smoke, he doesn’t drink and only works hard. Everything he has built up, he has done with his own hands. He went to Canada because it is a wood land and he was a carpenter. He saved until he could buy a piece of land, built a house in his spare time. Sold that and sought another good piece of land and built two houses and he began to develop, without loans, ever expanding,. When he was his own boss he needed an assistant and then two and so he has become a small contractor in his own right.

I suddenly saw Hans in a very different light. ‘He has now bought a beautiful piece of land in BC,’ said my sister, ‘he is going to build a house for himself but also for a few customers. It is a pleasant environment next to the Gulf Stream,’ she continued.’ The land is located on an island off the coast of Vancouver, it's called Salt Sping Island and is becoming a haven for Americans who cross the border to escape the draft for Vietnam’. I could understand that. ‘He asked whether I would go with him and I will.’ Holy cow my sister was leaving the house! ‘How’, I asked, ‘and when?’ ‘It is a good man’, said my sister, ‘I have looked around a bit.’ I only go along if we get married, because I do not like the free love bit and Hans has asked me to marry him.’ I rolled from one surprise into another. Next month we are getting married, then he’ll finish business here and we’ll move to Salt Spring Island.


‘It is far enough away from Pa and it's a good place to raise a family.’ Do mom and dad know this already,’ I asked? ‘No’, said my sister,’ I only know it myself since yesterday evening. l’ll wait for your brother with our uncle and aunt to come  back and then we’ll share it with everyone.’ ‘We,’ I asked? ‘Oh Yes, I have invited Hans to share dinner with us tomorrow,’ my sister laughed, a dinner fit for a king, and then we will share everything immediately. I watched my sister with boundless admiration, total control, nothing bad could ever happen to her, in her life.

San Daniel 2015

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