* 1964 IN KOBLENZ
NINE MONTHS IN THE RECEPTION CENTER
In 1973, Anja Dott spends nine lonely months in the Barby reception center near Magdeburg. She is only nine years old at the time. The premises of the center are fenced-in and guarded. Anja is not allowed to go to school, and there are no other children to play with. Her father, who brought her here, has to work as a stoker. Reception center employees talk with the child from time to time. “I was glad that anyone spoke to me at all,” she remembers.
I was glad that anyone spoke to me at all.
Anja’s father is a member of the German Communist Party (Deutsche Kommunistische Partei, or DKP). A married man, he goes to the GDR to study in 1971 and falls in love with someone else.
He goes back to West Germany only to get divorced from his wife and retrieve Anja. Father and daughter become citizens after months of interrogations. Manfred Dott gets married and moves to Halberstadt with Anja and his new wife, but the months in Barby leave him completely disillusioned. The family later makes several applications to leave the GDR, all of which are denied. The other children at school whisper about Anja Dott behind her back; she is known as “the girl from the West.” Anja gets good grades, studies chemistry and moves back to the West Germany soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall. She currently lives with her family on the Rhine.