Only Yesterday: Remembering East Germany

March 1990By Nancy O. McAdams

Nancy O. McAdams is a substitute teacher in the public schools of Princeton, New Jersey.

“You want to search my box of Pampers?” I exclaimed.

I couldn’t believe I’d heard the border guard at Checkpoint Charlie correctly. And why was she eying me so suspiciously?

Yet, of course, in April 1988 it was East German security policy to examine all incom­ing vehicles in the search for drugs, books, tapes — anything that might corrupt or con­taminate the East German citizenry.

The guard removed the Pampers box from my car and examined it with a mechanical de­vice. She then selected one of several bags in my trunk to inspect, plus the glove compart­ment in the car, before she felt satisfied I was not transporting any illegal material into East Berlin.

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