Excerpt from my novel, "The Duel at Checkpoint Charlie", Chapter 171:
By writing down my sorrows in this damned cold cell, I relived my childhood once again. As I warmed my child-hands on the breast of my mother, the lock of the iron door turned.
The door opened wide
A significant number of policemen stepped inside.
My cold room became significantly colder.
My soul suffered additional pain!
I was put in handcuffs.
The corridors of the prison were filled with noise.
Reams of paper were inserted into the machines.
lack typewriters clattered.
Questions were posed; statements were recorded.
They took me for a member of a criminal gang that smuggles people across the border. They spared no manner or method to gain information about this supposed gang, physical or mental. But they always got the same answer from me:
“I didn’t want to do anything other than to take my wife and child to West Berlin.”
“Why did you shoot at the soldiers at the border with a machine gun?”
“They were shooting at me from every watchtower; in self-defense and to intimidate them, I shot back,” was my answer.
I was locked up in my cold cell once again.
One day the iron door was opened again and armed soldiers brought me to the first row of seats in a courtroom.
The courtroom filled up, the judges in their robes stood before me, my personal information was stated and I was bombarded with questions. The states attorney read the indictment aloud; in his view, I was a terrible criminal.
My neck was growing stiff from looking up at the judges.
I want to repeat simply and concisely the accusations that were being levied against me in exaggerated pronouncements and jargon.
Finally the chief justice spoke:
“Mr. Atila, is the charge made by the states attorney accurate?”
My God, this voice, this face – wasn’t this Ursula, who wept in my arms just a year ago? But I couldn’t let it show. I stared. Chief Justice Ursula repeated her question, with an anxious, almost pleading shaky voice:
“Mr. Atila, answer. Is the states attorney’s indictment accurate?”
As I overcame my shock, I answered:
The chief justice was visibly relieved; she probably thought I would address her as “Ursula.” The accusations were repeated in detail.
“Mr. Atila, you are charged with belonging to a criminal gang that smuggles people across the border. Do you affirm this accusation?”
“No, your honor. I don’t belong to such a gang and I also don’t know anyone who is involved in such activities. I only wanted to take my child and my wife across the border.”
The typewriters clattered. Statements were recorded.