Well, they were not really sheep. But they all felt like it. They had no rights. They had no tools, no nails, no paint, no screws. They couldn’t do their job. But they had a job. Even if they would sit around, tell jokes, play cards. They had to be careful not to talk about “old times” when you could just go and buy what you needed. There were always “ears” around, so they had learned “Not to Talk About It”.
Nobody could tell after “it” happened how it had started. Just like sheep, all of a sudden they were all heading for the big gate at the entrance to the wharf. My father was one of them. Quietly, with no shouting or any other signs of aggression they walked along the pot-holed street leading into the city. It wasn’t long before police cars arrived with loud speakers and demanded they should turn around and go back to their jobs. They kept walking, with hanging heads, slumped shoulders and empty hands. Some had tears running down their faces.
Then the Russian Army, the “Best Friends of the Labourers” turned up with tanks and trucks and teargas. The “sheep” were herded into a Sports Stadium where I usually tested the athletic abilities of the ones willing to receive the Sports Achievement Badge “Bereit zur Arbeit und zur Verteidigung des Friedens.” (Ready to work and defend the peace)
It was the 17th of June 1953. This day is now a National Holiday in a united Germany.