Von der Maas bis an die Memel

Along former Reichsweg nr. 1, from the Imperial City of Aachen to the Coronation City of Königsberg, it is exactly 1.200 km. Berlin is half way and here is where, back in 1991, my journey started to what is currently the Russian city of Kaliningrad. Even many years later, these articles give a fair impression of what wild capitalism was alike when travelling Central-Europe in the early 1990's.

In the aftermath of the Berlin Wall removal, emerging "capitalists" from Poland showed up in West-Berlin buying television sets and video recorders for resale in Krakow or Olsztyn. In East-Germany, Ossies felt humiliated by Wessies. But on Polish city markets, East-Germans seemed wealthy compared with the shortage and the miserable goods that were on offer in Poland at that time. And on the eastern border of Poland, I saw Lithuanians, Russians and Latvians queuing in their Lada's for 48 hours and more - hoping for getting a glimpse of what they considered as abundant supplies "in the West." When I finally arrived on the steps of Kaliningrad's infamous Intourist Hotel, the hometown of Immanuel Kant seemed to me as foreign as Irkutsk would be - just to lend the words of Die Zeit's Gräfin Marion Dönhoff when she revisited her native city in 1990.