INT: But you were standing there, hearing those cries getting less and less...
MH: I think it was...
INT: ... I mean, actually, what...
MH: I was crying. It was really horrible. You were just standing there and you thought, "He's just dying," and you can't do anything. I mean, I've never been in that situation before, neither after, where you actually see a person dying and you can't do anything. And I am sure everyone else around me felt the same. You know... people are not that cold-blooded to brush this off. I am sure the soldiers felt the same, on both sides. It's shameful. You feel you are not doing anything. You feel shame, endless shame. But on the other hand ... rationally, you know that you can't do anything, but your emotions tell you you should. And this being pulled between emotions and rationality, is... I remember when I went home, I was so worn out, very, very tired, and I didn't talk to anyone about that for a long time, and I couldn't. I mean, next day all the papers were full of this photo of this young man lying in the... I think there was barbed wire, but I didn't see that at the time, I saw it on the photos. I couldn't talk about it, because it was that shame that you stand there and somebody is dying, and you can't do anything. I've never forgotten that. It left such an impact. But you also then realize, you know, that there are situations where everything is taken out of your hand, somebody else is deciding and not a person, it is a situation, and you have to weigh up what you do. I mean, I couldn't have rushed forward, and I don't think it ever occurred to me, rushing forward, because it wouldn't have made the slightest difference. But this feeling of total passiveness - that was dreadful - and I've never ever forgotten it, that you see something really horrible, really awful, and somebody needs bitterly your help, and you don't act, you just stay there and wait. And I've kept that shame; I still feel very... I know that rationally it is silly to feel that shame, but sometimes I thi, well, maybe sort of Jewish people, when they talk about, you know, having survived camps, that they feel the shame that their relations died and they didn't. Maybe it's a little similar, that shame - which is totally irrational, but you still feel it.
INT: Just talking about the feeling of passivity and being in the hands of events and authorities, really, that you coudo nothing about, was there a feeling... just to sort of widen that out a bit... that Berlin was in that situation all the time, that actually you were always in the hands of other people, you were always at the mercy, in a sense, of events that were taking place between two superpowers, which at any moment Berlin could be heavily influenced by or becoming almost the victim of? Was that a feeling that was there, or there isn't a connection there?
MH: I think, as time went on, everyone fell into their mould. You had a role to play, and it... I remember there was, for example, the rule straight away, after the first Christmas after the building of the Wall, everyone had to put candles... well, was asked - it wasn't an order - was asked to put candles in the window to remember the brothers and sisters on the other side. You played a role, and, you identified yourself with this role, and in way that helped - you know, you didn't get nervous, because you knew your role and everyone else did know their role. I'm sure, you know, after a while the Allieds [sic] knew what to do, the Bonn Government knew what to do, the West Berliners knew their role, and you played it. And I think, in a way, because you felt secure in that role, because you identified with it, you lost the fear. I mean, the fear came up if there was a rumbling somewhere in the world, but generally it wasn't a constant fear. I think it never is. You know, people get used to situations, and... because of sheer survival. I mean, you can't sort of make yourself constantly rotten with nervousness, so you cope with it. And I think in a way, the West German and West Berlin role was sort of a little patronizing - you know: "And we remember today the brothers and sisters from the other side." ...
INT: Can I go on to President Kennedy? President Kennedy was here in '63, which again, partly is West Berliners... well, not exactly playing a role, but... what did it mean to West Berliners, and indeed what did it mean to you when Kennedy came and visited in 1963?
MH: Oh, it was terribly exciting, really exciting. Even if you were totally unpolitical, it was really exciting. It was something like ... funfair, Queen's birthday, everything in one. All the road where he came into West Berlin from West Germany... I don't know, he can't have been from West Germany, but anyway, he came into the town center... the whole streets, they were all with sort of... what do you call them? These sort of colorful paper sort of decorations, and balloons and... it reminded me of what I thought when my grandmother was telling me about it, the Emperor's birthday: little girls waving flags, and everybody was in such a good mood. All the shops closed. And I think it was early afternoon, as far as I remember, sort of late lunch, early afternoon. And my bookshop in the Rheinstrasse in Friedenau, which was very close to the town hall, the main town hall of Berlin, which has in front of it a big square where Kennedy was supposed to speak... so people streaming... the whole morning already they were passing our bookshop and streaming into this square. And everybody decorated outside their bit; and Rheinstrasse has lots of trees, so there were balloons and everything. It was a bit like New Year's Eve in Germany: you know that there is a big thing, and it was that kind of atmosphere. Everybody was really sort of delighted. And then the whole sort of row of cars appeared. I didn't see them when they first came; I saw them when they went back, because as we closed our bookshop and all the shops closed, all around us anyway, everybody streamed to the square, so in fact I was at the square when he must have entered the square and then spoke. I did think it was a bit silly, his sentence "Ich bin ein Berliner," because it was with such a strong American accent. And then... of course, in West Germany, "Berliner" means a pancake, and for the Berliners, we don't use that term, but you know that the West Germans call it "pancake", so I thought that was (Laughs) rather silly. But, you know, one sort of respected his effort (Laughs) he made. That it was such a success, I didn't quite realize, you know, I just thought it was a bit sort of... well, sort of a bit obvious, to try to be nice. I can't remember much of the speech - I don't think I listened that much, I was so interested in what was going on around me. The whole square was really crowded, and ... it was my first and last experience in a crowd, because you could not move at all - there were thousands and thousands of people. And in the end I got really rather scared, and I tried to sort of push my way out. But there was... when he stepped up on to this kind of podium thing, from where he spoke, the crowd went forward to greet him, and I lost my feet under the ground, I was carried horizontal, which really scared me. But there was altogether, I think, not one single person who wasn't delighted - everybody was delighted - and everybody was very, very grateful. It was that feeling of, "Ah, now we are sure, now we are safe." And it was actually quite interesting to see so many people with very similar emotions. And when he finished speaking and people started to go home... I mean, you know, because there were thousands and thousands, the whole of the area was crowded with people... it was very orderly; there was no disturbance in any way. When we came back to our bookshop, then the cars came back, the limousines, all along, and he was standing there and waving, and... well, as I was sort of a young girl then, I thought, "He looks madly handsome." It was definitely ... I think we all realized it was an historical moment.
INT: Good. Well, thank you very much indeed.