381 CHRONICLESndiers and a handful of patrons in civilianngarb.nAlthough we didn’t seem to attract anlot of attention from the soldiers, wenwere immediately engulfed by a swarmnof greenback hunters mumbling somethingnabout “Lincoln” and “Washington.”nAfter we placed an order for twonbottles of beer and a like number ofngreasy fowl dishes, two soldiers saunterednover to the table, relieved thencurrency hawks of their seats, andncommenced ordering endless shots ofnvodka with which we cleansed ournpalates at a frightening pace. Afternhearing the word “Wroclaw” deliverednin staccato bursts, I assumed the twonwere interested in catching a ride tonWroclaw with us. Naturally I flashednthe thumbs up sign. Shortly thereafter,none of “our” soldiers meandered overnto another table where six men, four innuniform, were seated. A shoutingnmatch commenced between “our”nPole and one of the civilians,nprompting his eviction and our rapidnyet quiet retreat from the place.nNo sooner had I unlocked the carndoor than one of two civilians who hadnfollowed us attacked one of “our”nsoldiers as he attempted to enter thenvehicle. The soldier responded bynflinging his cape to his compatriot,ndelivering a Bruce Lee-style kick to hisnattacker’s chest. Curiously enough, thensmall contingent of soldiers near thentruck paid absolutely no attention tonthe melee. For the most part theyncontinued to smoke cigarettes and castnonly occasional glances in our direction.nMy thoughts, though, placed usnin shallow graves, forgotten in thenboondocks of Poland.nDuring a brief pause in the action, Inmotioned for the two to get into thenvehicle, which they did without hesitation.nAs I turned over the ignition, mynattention was drawn to one of thencivilians, who was approaching the car,nbrick in hand. My response was simplynto lurch forward, hoping to force himnto exercise evasive maneuvers — whichnhe did, diving right into the bushes.nThe second aggressor took a swipe atnthe passing vehicle with his fist, crackingnthe passenger window and hopefullynhis hand. As we sped off, I praisednmy traveling companion for having thenforesight to sign the insurance clause atnthe auto rental agency in Luxem­nbourg. To this day we are not sure whatnthe fight was all about, or if the civiliansnwere actually military personnel inncasual attire.nWhen we finally reached the Wroclawncity limits two hours later, I wasnamazed at the number of solid slaps tonthe face one passenger gave to thenother to wake him from his drunkennslumber. Low on fuel and unfamiliarnwith the terrain, I foolishly expectedntheir assistance in locating our finalndestination. The two soldiers tappednmy shoulder every few blocks to signalna stop so they could ask directions.nOne cannot do proper justice to thenrecurring scene of six or seven peoplenat road’s edge, waving their hands andnmotioning in different directions. Laternon, I was struck with the realization ofnjust how inebriated our passengersnwere by their performance with a standardntelephone. The picture of onensoldier attempting to fit a large coinninto a much smaller slot while thenother held the phone receiver upsidendown was enough to prompt a gracefulnwithdrawal—we left them standing innthe phone booth. One hour and 20ncabdrivers later, we were able to findnthe right street address.nIt would be well worth your efiFort,nfrom a cultural and capitalistic perspective,nto visit area flea markets duringnyour stay. One market, located nearnthe old exhibition hall where bothnHitler and Jaruzelski harangued, is easilynidentified by the slogan “ThenPolish-Chinese border should runnthrough the Ural mountains” scrawlednon the building’s side. Inside, a 100year-oldnstein in mint condition can benbought for the ridiculous sum of $20,nin contrast to $500 in the UnitednStates.nDuring one such shopping “spree,”nI met Karl, born in the Polish city ofnTernopil (Tarnopol) in 1920 of anGerman mother and Ukrainian father.nForcibly shipped to Germany to worknon a farm near Mannheim during thenwar, Karl returned in 1947 to Tarnopoln(previously annexed by the SovietnUnion) to practice his livelihood —nfarming. His continued resistance tonSoviet collectivization efforts earnednhim the title of “Nazi spy” and an22-year labor term, 21 of which henspent hauling debris from a gold minennear Kamchatka. After his release inn1969, he was granted a visa to visit hisnnnone surviving brother in Canada. Thenbrother, it turned out, was an ardentnCastro supporter, and their ensuingnpolitical disagreements led to a permanentnparting of the ways. Karl spatnupon the ground at the mere mentionnof his brother. Unfortunately, he neverndid finish his story due to the lingeringnpresence of a police informant who,nstanding at a distance of about 20 feet,nseemed much infatuated with an applencore lying in the snow.nOn those crisp winter nights, celluloidnaficionados may feel inclined tonretreat to the warmth of a packednuniversity movie room to catch an oldnfavorite like Clockwork Orange or EasynRider. If you forget to bring your ownncigarettes to the screening, you will benable to purchase an aromatic Albaniannbrand famous for the tiny twigs packedninside. Also, remember hearing all ofnthat East Bloc rhetoric about hownAmerican films like Red Dawn arencontrary to the spirit of Reykjavik ornGeneva? Well, just as I had never seennGone With the Wind before going tonLondon in 1981, the first time I sawnRamho was in Wroclaw.nOne cannot really marvel at theninconsistencies of border politics untilnone has the opportunity to exit Polandnthrough a different crossing point. Innour case that checkpoint was at Gorlitz,nsite of the 1950 treaty in which thenDDR formally accepted the Oder-nNeisse line. Upon discovering my wellvwrnncopy of The Third World War,none fastidious soldier felt compelled tonhold us for four hours on the premisenthat the fictitious piece was “gegen dienDDR” (against the German DemocraticnRepublic). It didn’t matter that Inhad already succeeded in passingnthrough a total of six checkpointsn(including transit to Berlin fromnHelmstedt) with this same book.n”Why are you,” I asked, “so concernednabout a book that has gonenthrough every other checkpoint—andnone that I didn’t even bother to leavenin Poland or the DDR for that matter?”n”The others,” he said, “mustnhave made a mistake.” He had spoken;nthe case was concluded.nRolfDammann is director of issuesnanalysis of the National RepublicannSenatorial Committee in Washington,nDC.n