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Everything was so much more colourful than shops at home in Karl Marx Stadt (which has now reverted to its original name of Chemnitz).Every Viennese street felt like a candy store, but an expensive one.
It turned out to be good practice, thanks to events well away from my life of rinks and rehearsals, events I could never have predicted.
After the destruction of the Berlin Wall in 1989, I was accused not just of collaborating with the government of East Germany, the Deutsche Demo-kratische Republik (DDR), but of spying on my friends.
It’s possible they somehow used the music consoles at the side of the rink.
That’s where we would stand and discuss the routines.
I realised that, even in the silence of my own home, I had never really been alone.‘Sexual intercourse took place from 20.00 to 20.07,’ said the files. It can’t have amounted to much, had it been true – which it wasn’t.
I’d met a male friend and after a long conversation we’d stayed quiet for a little while. I suppose the hotel itself would have seemed incriminating to the Stasi.
So, like thousands of former DDR citizens, I applied to the German government to see my own Stasi files.
In my case, there were boxes of them – boxes upon boxes – 3,000 meticulously compiled pages, all now stored in the official archive. There, in front of me, was a detailed account of my life since childhood compiled by anonymous informers, a diary of my entire existence.
But seeing the evidence gave me enormous relief on two counts: I had proof in my hands that I had never spied on anyone.
And, perhaps more importantly, it was clear that none of my family and none of my close friends had ever been informers.
The trouble started when a civil rights activist claimed in a German newspaper that I was an informer for the Stasi, the secret police, and that I had taken money from them.