Sunday, September 23, 2012

Vier Ecken Raten

I am reading a book about East Germany (Peggy Maedler: Die Legende vom Glueck des Menschen). The main character is a girl, or should I say women, my age who grew up in East Germany. One of the plots deals with the change of the political system and how she and her family experienced it. While it is a little bit sad at times, it also brings up many memories that seemed already forgotten. Memories of food items that are not available anymore despite our everything at all times society, memories of games and afternoon activities, memories of old friends.  

Yesterday we walked by a fancy-pantsy playground and I remembered an old game we always used to play as kids: Vier Ecken Raten (maybe: Four Corner Quiz). Back then we had very simple playgrounds with a slide and a jungle gym (I hope this is the correct English term, see picture above). During the game the kids were sitting in the corner and somebody asked a question. The one who answered the question first, would switch corners with the kid who asked the question. The kid that was quickest to climb up at the other corner would win and ask the next question. Therefore we spend our afternoons in dizzying heights, jumping down and climbing up the bars. Life was so simple back then...  

It is quite interesting to learn about other people's memories from that time. So many are the same. When I am asked how I experience the fall of the Berlin Wall, I usually reply that we did not have to go to school anymore on Saturdays. I was 10 by then, one school day less was really important. For the character in the book, this was also the most important memory. As a child, living in East Germany was fantastic. Everybody is always surprised when I say that, because for the rest of the world we lived in a dictatorship. It is always hard for me to think of East Germany that way. The girl in the book calls her memories naive, and that is probably the right word. But I never experience imprisonment, limitations or brain washing. I experience many activities for children, great friendship and I had everything I needed. 

Of course I am happy now about the plethora of opportunities. However, I sometimes miss the things from my childhood that are not around anymore. Therefore, I am thankful for the book and for the memories. 


  1. the playgrounds where i grew up were very simple too. i very well remember one "game" as well. we had a sort of thing to climb in; just old truck tires that were placed above each other; one had onle 2 above each other, the next 3, and one had even 4 above each other. we pretended it was a ship, and we filled the insides of the tires with all kinds of stuff we needed on our travels. then we would just sit there and climb up and down. i dont remember what else we did, just that it was the coolest thing to do!! and i always wanted to have the 4-story tire, as there was the most storage and climbing. and i guess there i got to play also the radio-person; screaming into the tire made it sort of echo.
    now all those little simple playgrounds around my parents house are gone, and most have not been replaced by something else... does that mean kids really just sit inside and play at the computer...?

  2. here many kids are on the playground, at least little ones. However, I am not sure if they play much together. All of them come with their parents. We always used to go out by ourselves, just behind the house and my parents would never sit there with us for hours. I think even when I was little but I might be wrong...

    sounds like a fun game...

  3. i dont know at what age, but we would also go alone, indeed. there were several playgrounds around and we would just play wherever, until we had to be home again. but really, all those grounds (3 or 4 or so around my house) are gone now!! there is nothing left, literally nothing!