The girl at the edge of the World – an East German childhood at the West German Border

A young Claudia Bierschenk lived in a village surrounded by hills, valleys and thick forests at the edge of a world called the GDR. It could be beautiful, but the Iron Curtain runs through it, like a tectonic plate separating East and West and Claudia from her West German relatives.

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She tells of her life in this isolated area, of village life, far away from the socialist showpiece of East Berlin, where there are only two types of yoghurt in the village store.

In a series of snapshots, we re-live her childhood of secretly watching West German TV, learning “Marxism-Leninism for kids”  at school, and the rare joy of a phone call from the West.

We also hear of her parents’ challenges. For her father, it’s his home village, but he is criticised for his liberal views and for wearing Western braces to school.  Locals see her mother as an outsider, and she yearns for a life in the West with her sister in West Berlin.


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I am delighted to welcome Claudia Bierschenk to our Cold War conversation…

All photos are © Claudia Bierschenk.

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Radio GDR
If you are interested in East Germany we can highly recommend our friends over at Radio GDR.

Drone footage of Ershausen, Claudia’s home village.

Drone footage of the Eichsfeld Border Museum