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I was a murderer. It was so easy to identify my crime, my guilt, my agony. What about my parents, who were planning to get rid of me? What was the name for someone who killed their children? That meant they could get away with it. Whereas I had to bear the weight of death and a nauseating word.
You could kill your parents, your brothers and sisters. But not your children. I prowled through the rooms, which to me seemed increasingly small and dark, in a house that would soon no longer be ours. I looked up at the unreachable ceiling, walked down hallways lined with the images of a family that was disappearing little by little. I watched as my pale hands turned golden. I opened my eyes and was in the same bedroom, surrounded by well-worn books and dolls I had never played with, nor ever would.
Papa and Mama were the guilty ones. They forced me to throw myself into the abyss alongside them.
It was the smell of enclosure. We had less time to live. I knew it; I felt it.
Mama had put mothballs in the closets to preserve her world, and the pungent odor filled the apartment. I had no idea what she was trying to protect, since we were going to lose everything regardless. Leo was my only friend; the one person who dared look me in the face without wanting to spit on me.
Spring in Berlin was cold and rainy, but Papa often left without taking his coat. The five families living on the floors beneath ours were all waiting for us to leave. Those who were once our friends were no longer friendly.
Those who used to thank Papa or who tried to ingratiate themselves with Mama and her friends—who praised her good taste or asked for advice on how to make a brightly colored handbag match their fashionable shoes—now looked down their noses at us and could denounce us at any moment. Mama spent yet another day without going out. Every morning when she got up, she would fasten her ruby earrings and smooth back her beautiful, thick hair—which was the envy of her friends whenever she appeared in the tearoom of the Hotel Adlon.
Papa called her the Goddess, because she was so fascinated by the cinema, which was her only contact with the outside world. But back then motion pictures were silent, and no one cared where the star had been born. We discovered her. We always knew she would be worshipped. And in her first talkie she said in perfect German: He had been arrested at his university office and taken to the station on Grolmanstrasse, kept incommunicado for an offense we never understood.
After they were released, the two would get together daily—and that worried Mama even more, as if they were planning an escape she was not prepared for yet. Fear was what prevented her from leaving her fortress.
She lived in a state of constant agitation. Before, she used to go to the elegant salon at the Hotel Kaiserhof, just a few blocks away, but eventually it was full of the people who hated us: In the past, she would boast about Berlin. If she went on a shopping spree to Paris, she always stayed at the Ritz; and if she accompanied Papa to a lecture or concert in Vienna, at the Imperial: La Divine stayed there, and immortalized it on screen. What had become of her happy years?
What had she been sentenced to, and why? She felt she was paying for the offenses of others: I am a Strauss. Alma Strauss.
As if someone were listening to her; as if to make her message entirely clear in each of the four languages she spoke fluently. I had agreed to meet Leo that day to go take photographs. If either of us was later than expected, the first to arrive had to order a hot chocolate.
When he needed to see me urgently, Leo would wait for me at the newspaper kiosk near my home, allowing us to avoid running into any of our neighbors, who, despite also being our tenants, always shunned us.
In order not to disobey the adults, I bypassed the carpeted stairs, which were increasingly dusty, and took the elevator. It stopped at the third floor. Gretel was sad, because not long before, she had lost her beautiful white puppy. I felt so sorry for her. We were the same age, but I was much taller.
When are they going to leave? The Ditmars, Hartmanns, Brauers, and Schultzes lived in our building. We rented them their apartments. They were the ones who should leave. They were not from here. We were.
We were more German than they were. Had I heard it right? What have we done for me to have to endure that? What crime had we committed? I was not dirty. I saw them leave the building. She glanced backward, looking for me, perhaps wanting to apologize, but her mother pushed her on. I ran back up the stairs noisily, in tears. Yes, crying with rage and impotence because I could not tell Frau Hofmeister that she was dirtier than I was. If we bothered her, she could leave the building; it was our building.
I wanted to hit the walls, smash the valuable camera my father had given me. I entered our apartment, and Mama could not understand why I was so furious. I went into the cold bathroom, slammed the door, and turned on the shower.
I was still crying; or rather, I wanted to stop crying but found it impossible. Fully clothed and wearing my shoes, I climbed into the perfectly white bathtub. Mama kept on calling to me and then finally left me in peace. All I could hear was the sound of the scalding water cascading onto me. I let it flow into my eyes until they burned; into my ears, my nose, my mouth. I started to take off my clothes and shoes, which were heavier because of the water and my dirtiness.
My skin was red, as red as if it was going to peel. When I came out of the shower, I collapsed on the cold black-and-white tiles. Fortunately, I had run out of tears. I examined every pore in front of the steamed-up mirror: I wanted to know who was the dirty one now. I cowered in a corner, trembling, shrinking, feeling like a slab of meat and bone. This was my only hiding place. In the end, I knew that however much I washed, burned my skin, cut my hair, gouged out my eyes, turned deaf, however much I dressed or talked differently, or took on a different name, they would always see me as impure.
The German partner is called Touring. All other companies can be found on the German search engines for long distance bus tickets busliniensuche. Due to the large number of immigrants from the former Yugoslavia, every major bus company from those countries serves routes to mostly Southern Germany. See also bus travel in the former Yugoslavia. Get around[ edit ] German transportation runs with German efficiency, and getting around the country is a snap — although you'll need to pay top price for top speed.
The most popular options by far are to rent a car , or take the train. If the train is too expensive for you, travelling by arranged ride-sharing is often a viable alternative in Germany. By plane[ edit ] Domestic flights are mainly used for business, with the train being a simpler and often but not always cheaper alternative for other travel.
The boom of budget airlines and increased competition has made some flight prices competitive with trains to some major cities. However make sure that you get to the right destination. Low-cost airlines in particular Ryanair are known for naming small airports in the middle of nowhere by cities km away e.
Lufhansa is a member of the "Star Alliance", and still offers a few anemities that the discount carriers don't have. The carrier is not part of an alliance, but is integrated with Lufthansa's "Miles and More" program. The airline also offers "premium" fares which include access to Lufthansa's lounges. Cirrus Airlines  Focus on smaller business traveller routes within Germany and Europe.
Close cooperation with Lufthansa on selected routes. By train[ edit ] Germany offers a fast and, if booked in advance, affordable railway system that reaches most parts of the country. Unless you travel by car, rail is likely to be your major mode of transport. Crossing Germany from Munich in the south to Hamburg in the north will usually take around 6h, while driving by car will take around 8h.
Almost all long-distance and many regional trains are operated by Deutsche Bahn "German Rail" , the formerly state-run railway company.
DB's website , available in many languages, is an excellent resource for working out transport options not only in Germany generally all modes except air travel; bus, ship and branch line timetables being incomplete but also pretty much anywhere in Europe train and a few selected long-distance bus routes only.
An interesting gimmick is the carbon dioxide emission comparisons for different train journeys. Top speeds are only reached on newly built or upgraded parts of the network; on "old" tracks the ICE will only go as fast as regular IC trains.
On most main lines you will arrive significantly faster than by car. However when you book the ticket on-line in advance, you can get a considerable discount see Discounts.
Reservations are not mandatory, but are recommended at peak times like weekends or holidays. The latter connect the larger European cities and are virtually identical to the regular ICs.
These trains are also fairly comfortable, even if they lack the high-tech feeling of the ICE. Before you shell out the money for the ICE ticket, you may want to check if it actually makes a significant time difference. There are also long distance trains operated by other companies than Deutsche Bahn, usually running over secondary routes. These are usually comfortable enough and sometimes considerably cheaper, but most of them stop at almost every station en-route.
In addition to being fast, modern and highly profitable, German railways are not known for delays, trains usually do not wait for one another most local trains normally do for up to 5min so you should not rely on connecting times of less than 15min. The same as RE, but goes between two regions Bundesland. RE Regional-Express. Semi-express trains, skips some stations. On many routes, this is the highest available train category.
RB Regional-Bahn. Stops everywhere except that it may skip some S-Bahn stops. Commuter network for a city or metropolitan area but can travel fairly long distances. Only very few older S-Bahn trains offer the comfort of a toilet, which, however, often does not work.
Urban transportation systems are usually ran by local companies that are publicly held: these may include subways, city buses, light rail and even regional trains. In larger urban areas, the local companies will often form a Verkehrsverbund or VB integrated public transport system : you will be able to travel in and between all participating cities using the same tickets and fares.
These urban transport networks are often but not always integrated with the DB network and Verkehrsverbund tickets are valid in local trains. Old keypad and new touchscreen DB ticket machines There are a few different locations where you can get your tickets: On-line. The engine will automatically look up the fastest connections. It will automatically offer the cheapest possible fare, including any applicable early-booking discounts in addition to the regular fare.
Note that the fastest connections are not necessarily the cheapest ones - but you can exclude types of trains e. ICE to check for better deals. Depending on the connection tickets can be obtained as a "mobile" ticket that can be downloaded to your smartphone app, "online" tickets that can be printed out at home and via mail. Since you can even show "online" tickets on a notebook or tablet screen if you didn't print them out, something that wasn't allowed before.