East Germany wasn’t as hard on the Church as other communist countries have been, and are. Its members weren’t rounded up and shot, its houses of worship weren’t (for the most part) destroyed, it was allowed to function, within limits. But being a church member did have consequences. If you decided to get confirmed, you could not go to university, so a professional career was not to be. You could not teach. You could not work in a government job. So you had to make a choice. Confirmation was a decision.
They have tents. There’s a restroom trailer, with plumbing snaking down the hill into the host house’s soil pipe. An empty industrial cable spool is set on one end and under an umbrella becomes a high-top for ten people. One day they roast a pig. There are bonfires. One night, people stay up for the dawn. A visitor took a taxi in from Zwickau, and at 3:00 a.m. took a taxi back. His biggest challenge was the quarter-mile walk from the field to the road, the last stretch in pitch-dark.
These are farmers, bakers, florists, truck drivers, electricians, firefighters. Their children can go to university now and become engineers, teachers, anything they want. There is no more East Germany. We left on Saturday night at 10:30, after 8 or 9 hours. I took one last picture from the farm, across the valley in Vielau. All lit up there is the church.