While on a Fulbright research assignment at the Free University of Berlin in 1989-90, I connected with East German demonstrators and officials as well as with researchers from both Germanies and Hungary. I learned to dance in East Berlin discos, as well as later on the streets of West Berlin when the Berlin Wall opened on November 10, 1989. I eventually had numerous research publications in partnership with German and Hungarian academics. One of my publications was on an economic plan to ease the transition to a unified German economy (the plan was unfortunately not adopted, and the transition turned out to cost over $1 trillion).
I learned that communist East Germany simply wasn’t the regimented society which Western media had portrayed. A good example was provided by the numerous nights at discos in East Berlin where, while dancing through sunrise, some drinking companions mentioned they had to get to work that day. When I asked how they were going to work without sleep, the answer was that they solved the problem by sleeping at work.
I eventually met my future East German wife in a university student bar in Rostock (which is an East German seaport) in the spring of 1990. We were married in that city in 1991 (and have two wonderful children).
Dr. Austin Murphy – Fulbright to Germany 1989