A Trip to the DDR - "The Journey of my Life"

Introduction: Looking for old Friends

A trip to the DDR changed his life: This is the story of the ethiopian Shimelis Haile Aga, who visited the DDR in 1987 - the only other country he has ever seen since. In a series of ten articles, he will tell his story of war and confusion, and the short escape with Interflug to a wonderland named DDR. by Michael Geithner (12 Sep 2017)

The Beginning

On September 19th 2016, the DDR Museum received a message via Facebook. It came from an Ethiopian man, who wanted to share his story with the World.

Shimelis Haile Aga was a 14-year old child, when he visited the DDR for four months. A few years before, due to the civil war in Ethiopia, he was sent to an ethiopian children camp. Since the country was already supported by the USSR due to the war against Somalia, the children in the camp got the opportunity to join delegations to represent their country in summer camps in different sister states. Shimelis was chosen to visit the DDR.

The Journey of his Life 

Shimelis visited the DDR in 1987. There, he found himself thrown into a whole other world from what he was used to. From his childhood education, he was suspicious against Germans and confused considering all the things, that were different from his home. The trip held many premieres for him: The first time in an airplane, the first white people he ever saw, his first kiss and many other first times accompanied the journey of his life.

The DDR was the first and only country Shimelis has ever seen outside from Ethiopia. He is still drawn to Germany, that kept being a big part of his life. He educated his children about the German history and they followed the big events since then, such as the fall of the Berlin Wall or the soccer world championship.

The Shout-Out

For the last three decades, Shimelis kept the memory of his former friends he met in the DDR in his mind. Now, he is calling for them:

In the next ten weeks the DDR Museum publishes a new episode of the blogseries every tuesday. Every episode will be published in German and English. This series will take you on a journey with a young boy, who faced fear and confusion into a land and time that are long gone.


All articles:
A trip to the DDR changed his life: This is the story of the ethiopian Shimelis Haile Aga, who visited the DDR in 1987 - the only other…
Meet Shimelis Haile Aga, 44 years old, born and raised in Ethiopia. The only other country he has ever seen, does'nt exist anymore. Today he…
Shimelis Haile Aga visited the DDR in 1987. He still remebers his journey vividly, also because his story began far less memorable. It all…
Shimelis Haile Aga was born into Ethiopia's chaotic times of war. He was sent into a children's camp with many other kids who's families…
Do you remember your first ever flight? After Shimelis' father never came back from war, he went to a special camp for children. For years…
A few weeks ago, Shimelis sent a shout-out for his old friends, and one heard the call. Constanze Prehl was still an amharic student, when…
Shimelis arrived at night in the Pioneer Republic "Wilhelm Pieck". After his flight with Interflug from Ethiopia and one culture shock after…
1987 in Ethiopia. Shimelis lived in a camp for children who became victims of the war. One day he was allowed to visit the DDR - a life…
14-year-old ethiopian Shimelis visited the DDR in 1987 - the only other country he has ever seen. For a few months he enjoyed the massive…
"I wish I could have lived with those kind people forever." Time went by too fast for Shimelis, who visited the DDR in 1987. After some…
30 years have gone by since Shimelis visited the DDR in 1987, 30 years later the once 14-year-old boy has grown up and built a whole new…

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