Sun, Oct 30, 2005 - Page 6 News List

How GIs and frauleins fraternized in Berlin

DPA , BERLIN

Two years ago Bob Lauenstein died from lung cancer.

"I miss him very much," says Annemarie.

Did she suffer from homesickness? Not really, she says.

"My whole family is here in America." She would have liked to make one final visit to Berlin, but that won't be possible, she says. "I am just not up to it anymore."

Annemarie Lauenstein may have been the first German-born bride to be allowed entry to the US after World War II, but soon thousands of other German-American couples were heading to the US. Some of their stories are told at the Allied Museum.

Anneliese Cofer who married her husband, David Cofer, in Berlin more than 50 years ago was at the opening of the exhibition.

Anneliese was only 16 when she reached West Berlin from Luckenwalde in the former East Germany.

"I wanted a real professional training which was not available in my home town," she explains.

She trained at the city's renowned Lettre Verein as a fashion designer. In 1951, aged 18, was introduced at a party to David Cofer, a lawyer, who was serving as a US artillery officer in Berlin.

"He was so polite. We've been together ever since," she says.

Her parents in Luckenwalde approved of their relationship but "were very sad when they heard we intended going to America together," she explains.

Hurdles

By that time the army had relaxed its orders on fraternization, but there were still bureaucratic hurdles to surmount. In July 1953 the couple married at a Berlin registry office in the city's British sector, followed by a church ceremony at the chapel in the then St. Andrews Army barracks in Berlin.

A cultural shock was in store on her arrival in America.

"In Bryan, a Texas township, the people were all Baptists and very religious. They disowned hard liquor. On my first day there it was 40 degrees and stifling hot, and there were no air ventilators."

But things soon looked up. "My husband's two sisters soon took me under their wing and in the 1960s my mother was allowed join us in the US, once she had become a pensioner," she says.

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