The first interview I ever
did in my life was produced in 1980 by myself. I was 15
years old and my grandmother, Johanna Simon (1905 - 1990),
came back from her first and also last trip to New York
City. There she got the chance to see her three sons after
more than 30 years.
took them into her arms and all were happy to see their
mother. Grandmother had lost her house and home in Hungary
after World War II. So she and her family lived in Leipzig
in East-Germany. My Oma did not like the communists and
the G.D.R. socialism, but there was not a chance for her
to fight against the system.
In 1980 came the wonder. Her three sons, Hans, Josef und
Franz, sent an invitation for showing her "Gods own
country". That was the same time I had to take a
trip to Moscow, the capital of the former Soviet Union.
My highschool teachers in Greifswald/Vorpommern were very
interested in putting me and my classmates into a group
of people who liked the friendship with the strong communists
in the Soviet Union. The name of this club was "German-Soviet-Friendship".
So they did it in a museum in front of a huge model of
the destroyed "Berlin Reichstag".
Two cities, two countries, two worlds - how they could
not have been more different during this years. Me, my
friends and my family only knew the grey side behind the
Wall. And we were not able to think about the possibility
at having a look into the Western part of the world. And
now that! My grandmother had the opportunity for "nicest
six weeks of her life", as she told me later, in
As a passionate lover of every kind of music I owned a
cassette tape recorder "R 4100" made in G.D.R.
with integrated microphone. The
tapes were produced either in Wolfen (Saxony) or - when
their own capacity was not big enough - in the "glorious"
Soviet Union. The tapes squeak and you could not use them
for the pure pleasure of listening to music. However,
both had the big value of 20 Marks. That was a lot of
money and I did not get as much pocket money as I would
need to buy a lot of tapes. So my tape collection was
realy small during that time. The quality of the cassette
tapes was bad and the sound was noisy. But I had to preserve
the memories of my grandmother. She had seen so many unbelieveable
things with her own eyes that they realy screamed to be
fixed for future generations. In 1980 I took a tape
from the Soviet Union and recorded her voice. She told
me a lot about her former home village Markó in
Hungary, about the farm work, the birth of her eleven
children, about the expulsion, the hard time after World
War II and of course about the one and only trip to America
she ever took in her life.
Her report about the United States was very important
to me. Neither any newspaper report, nor any Hollywood
movie, not even an American novel could change my thinking
about this country. I visited a part of America a couple
of month ago. I could see this huge country myself. My
thinking changed, but the picture, which my grandmother
burned into my mind, did not change. It is and it will
be the multicollored painting by my unforgotten Oma. A
few years later I produced some CDs from the original
tape and gave it as a personal gift to some members of
my family and to some friends. Now they all are able to
hear the voice and the memories of my grandmother. Her
voice and her memories of life are fixed. Now future generations
are able to see the world through the eyes of this very