In March 1975, thirty years after the collapse of German fascism, N., a student from Berlin – bearded and long-haired – attended a series of lectures at a university on the Baltic coast. He missed his return train and was forced to make a stop in A., a town on the border of what used to be Pomerania. During the war A. had been three-quarters destroyed. Most of its inhabitants were refugees from areas occupied by the German Reich.
The student had two hours to wait for his connection. He wandered into the station-bar to get some lunch. There were only a few people in the bar, all of them locals, and the moment the student walked in every one of them fell silent. Then, from a corner of the room, the quiet was broken with an insult. Other remarks followed. Each of the comments addressed the student’s appearance and each was voiced loudly, without the slightest inhibition. The student ignored the comments and sat down to read his newspaper. A drunk approached his table and enquired about the student’s washing habits. Another man shouted across that were the student a woman he would refuse intimacy with him. N. asked if he might be allowed to eat his lunch in peace. Everyone present roared with laughter. The drunk leaned closer and reached out to pull at the student’s beard, to see if it was real. The student jumped up and ran from the room.