Lives of East Germans – The “Authentic Spirit” of Adelheid Wedel (40)

Adelheid, the one German we met — heck, the one person German or American posted there — who was clearly her own person. How she survived a free, authentic spirit, not caring who or where, I’ll never quite fathom. Adelheid Wedel, like Berlin, remains an enigma…

-Celeste Barber, Ghosts of East Berlin

In this episode of Radio GDR, we interview Adelheid Wedel, friend of Eric Friedman and Celeste McConnell, the co-authors of Ghosts of East Berlin, which recounts their 1988 Fulbright-sponsored excursion in the GDR. We had the privilege of interviewing Eric in Episode 24 and Celeste in Episode 39. While the Berlin Wall was certainly an intimidating symbol of their eventual destination, the people they would meet on the other side proved to be their family’s treasure, the most special of which was Adelheid Wedel, who one day knocked on the door of Eric and Celeste’s Marzahn apartment. It was Adelheid, her husband Jurgen and son Georg’s friendship that made Eric and Celeste feel right at home in a place they called “No Man’s Land.” We welcome Adelheid to our show today to tell her story. From being raised by a World War 2 veteran who spent time in a Soviet prison camp to having of view of the Berlin Wall from her apartment to meeting westerners like Celeste and her family who she finally visited in California after the wall fell, she has quite a story to tell. The Berlin Wall being no obstacle, Adelheid has emerged from behind it to befriend American authors like Wally Lamb, who she considers a friend and her most important bridge between Germany and the USA, and offer her own perspective on the GDR with her book About the Privilege of Comparison: Experiences of Prominent East Germans Before and After 1989. Also, check out her personal pictures below.

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