A Trip To Freedom, From Berlin To Berlin

A real-life story of imprisonment and liberty, between two wars and three generations.

Simone Silvestroni
Dec 9, 2019 · 11 min read

TL;DR — During World War II a fascist squad deported my grandfather to Sachsenhausen, where he spent four years. He managed to escape weeks before the Nazi evacuated the camp. I retraced his steps going back to Berlin, and in the process, I wrote a concept album.

Roots

Imprisonment

Prisoner’s Uniform with Red Triangle of Political Enemy — Majdanek Concentration Camp — Lublin — Poland. Photo: Adam Jones, Ph.D.
Label for the shoe-testing track, at Sachsenhausen
Label for the shoe-testing track, at Sachsenhausen

Wave upon wave of
Faceless strangers
Chosen, discarded
Put in the line to the chambers
He was spared by the guards
Only because of his craft

Liberty

There were two of us
We left in a rush
We stole a gun
Some clothes and ran
We kept going all night all day
Until Berlin was far away

No Man’s Land

I’m twenty again
On a noisy bus
No matter where we are
The breeze, the vane
A Trabant passes by
Naked sign of time

Berlin travel card, 1991
My travel card in Berlin, 1991.
Us in Berlin, summer 1991. Photo: Ornella Domenicali.

Chasing Ghosts

The spoon he brought home from Sachsenhausen
The spoon he brought home from Sachsenhausen
The spoon my grandfather brought home from Sachsenhausen.
This plaque was erected by the Communist GDR government, to commemorate the Death March undertaken by the prisoners of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp under the Nazi government. The GDR placed emphasis on political prisoners over the other groups held at Sachsenhausen (Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Homosexuals); hence the pictured prisoners are wearing red triangles (the symbol for political prisoners, particularly communists). — Wikipedia

Liberation

Wooden last found in July 2006 during renovation work in the former prisoner’s kitchen
Wooden last found in July 2006 during renovation work in the former prisoner’s kitchen
Wooden last found in July 2006 during renovation work in the former prisoner’s kitchen.
A spoon exhibited at Sachsenhausen
A spoon exhibited at Sachsenhausen
A spoon exhibited at Sachsenhausen.

I stand up to my fears
After so many years
Walking towards your jail
Chasing your trail
Then I saw the gate
No future, no fate
‘Work sets you free’
Next time you might be free

Making Ends Meet

That was me watching the no man’s land
That was me
This is me changing the life I planned
That was me thinking of where to stand
That was me
This is me walking the no man’s land

He Knows

My grandfather, working outside his shop in the summer.
My grandfather, working outside his shop in the summer. Some of the objects visible on the crate came from Germany.

Lessons from History

Lessons from History is a platform for writers who share…

Lessons from History

Lessons from History is a platform for writers who share ideas and inspirational stories from world history. The objective is to promote history on Medium and demonstrate the value of historical writing.

Simone Silvestroni

Written by

Producer, sound designer and web developer. Released the album ‘After 1989: A Trip To Freedom’ about a real-life story between two wars. Game audio enthusiast.

Lessons from History

Lessons from History is a platform for writers who share ideas and inspirational stories from world history. The objective is to promote history on Medium and demonstrate the value of historical writing.