14. Friedrichshain Municipal Hospital: March/April, 1976

According to the visa in my passport, I returned to East Berlin on March 22, 1976, with the intention of staying there until April 13. For this visit, I had booked a room in Interhotel Berolina, where I had resided in November 1975. This hotel was centrally located and had convenient parking, which made it an ideal place to stay while carrying out the next stage of my project. However, due to illness I had to cancel most of my appointments with writers and return to Vienna prematurely. At the beginning of June 1976, I would return to East Berlin and resume work on my project.

I have very unpleasant memories of this visit to East Berlin. When I became ill, I foolishly continued working on my project, which caused my health problem to worsen rapidly. Eventually, the Plenzdorfs took me to the emergency room of nearby Friedrichshain Municipal Hospital for treatment. After examining me, the doctor recommended that I be admitted immediately to the hospital, since I needed an operation and was not strong enough to drive back to Vienna. What a situation! I had no choice in the matter, so I entered the hospital without returning to my hotel and remained there for a week.

Three writers were especially kind to me in this time of need. Ulrich Plenzdorf let Christa Wolf and Jurek Becker know that I was in the hospital, and he also called all the writers I was scheduled to visit and cancelled the appointments. Christa Wolf went to Interhotel Berolina and was permitted to pack my clothes and belongings, which the hotel stored in a secure place. A week later, when I was feeling somewhat better, Jurek Becker came to the hospital and drove me to Hotel Berolina, where I settled my bill, retrieved my belongings, and then headed for West Berlin. In West Berlin, I stayed with a relative for a few days before driving back to Vienna, where I would soon undergo an operation.