So, here I am writing of Italy and being told “ Why take pictures of an old car?” Well, first of all it’s not that often one finds a Trabant, and you’d be hard pressed to find one in Southern Italy let alone one planted in an olive grove. And second? I like to take pictures of wrecked old cars wherever they are. They tell an untold story. I like to imagine what that story would be:
“Else had lived in East Germany since birth, she had never been near the Wall, she rarely thought about it. Her job as a telephonist in the local government was one she was relatively happy with given the rather austere conditions in the country. Everyone was fed, and medical care was free and in the circumstances quite good. In fact if you didn’t mind that your next door neighbour in the government controlled apartment block where you lived was a member of the Stasi, he was at least always polite and would hold the door open for you.
Public transport was efficient and life was settled especially if you took no interest in politics and what certain people had “done before”.
She was just the girl next door living with her parents, she seemed like no risk on his risk assessment chart. He was polite to her and beneath the drab clothes she wore and minimal make up she had a good looks, flaxen hair that was barely under control, framed a flat face and wide spaced eyes. She was placid.
His experience in the last war had marked him. Stationed in the south of Italy surrounded by olive groves and people who had not invited him there, he made it his business to melt into the background as much as possible. To try and be friendly to the local population as, with the recent advances by the British and American forces in North Africa and the possibility of an invasion from there into Italy where the Italian fascists seemed to be also melting into the North, he saw little prospect of a rosy future.
He was a conscript in the Wermacht and although a Nazi party member, kept well clear of them, keeping his own counsel.
After his capture in the subsequent invasion that he had predicted he was and removed to a prison camp. He was repatriated to a broken Germany. He dreamt of Puglia and the constant sunshine, the olive groves and warm temperatures seemed a world away from the freezing broken streets of his home town.
In time, back in East Germany he managed to get a job with the post office services, but he knew that it required him to be a member of the Stasi and to spy on his neighbours. He tried to make his regular reports on his neighbours as dull and unreadable as possible. He dreamt of Puglia, the warmth, the blue skies and the olive trees. He knew the game was about to be up as there was talk of a Wall. He just knew that in 1961 the wall would keep him there in East Germany for ever if he did n’t do something about it. He knew someone with a car. He knew how to get the documents to cross the border.
He could get his hands on a car, a Trabant, he hoped he would be able to get back to Puglia and that he could melt into the countryside, forgetting the recent history of the area”
That’s how my version of events starts. How did Else end up going with him in the Trabant from East Germany to the car’s final resting place surrounded by olive groves and sunshine?
How did he get Else involved enough to leave her existence in East Germany to end up as an East German surrounded by 60 million olive trees.
I’m sure there is a story behind the Trabant in the olive grove, but perhaps not quite as colourful as mine, there again, it might be a whole lot more interesting. We’ll never know.