Portrait of Ulrike


Ulrike as a young pioneer.

As a child, Ulrike was quiet and unsure of herself. She was small and fragile, and she felt uncomfortable in her own skin. She lived in her own world, sitting alone for hours in her bedroom, painting small watercolors of the view from her window: two poplar trees in the distance and a large pear tree in the well-tended garden. Or she just stared out the window at the lights on in the house across the way, wondering what her neighbors -- particularly the son, who was Ulrike's age -- might be doing at that moment.

p. 89 The House at the Bridge

Their street dead-ended about one hundred yards to the north at the Berlin Wall. There was no traffic up and down the street, save the occasional National People's Army vehicle. Beyond the Wall was Zehlendorf, one of West Berlin's most affluent areas. While Ulrike was growing up, she regarded the stretch of Wall by her house as a fixture in her life, like her parent's garden. She and her brother often played at the Wall's base without thinking much about what was on the other side. She knew it was the West, because her parents told her so. And she could hear its sounds - ambulances, loud motorcycles, barking dogs. She had no great desire to go there. Yet she knew she would go there someday, if only for a brief visit.

p. 89 The House at the Bridge


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