As members of the Berlin Brigade Band, we traveled a bit to the West, taking the overnight Duty Train from Berlin through East Germany, and arriving at Frankfurt the next morning. (I highly recommend reading the U.S. Army Transportation Museum’s factual webpage about the Berlin Duty Train – it also includes photos.)
In the early 80’s, before servicemen and women were targeted for terrorist attacks, we didn’t need Passports – our uniforms and Military ID were enough. Our papers to travel the train had to be exact (see examples on the webpage linked above); when boarding, we gave those papers and our Military ID cards to the officer in charge. Several times in the night the train would slow then stop at a checkpoint. Before our arrival in Frankfurt the next morning, our paperwork and ID cards were returned.
I heard car travel was similar, but we always took the train for military or personal trips – or flew, which was obviously faster, more expensive, and much easier as far as paperwork!
Once a year, members of the band would travel to Garmisch to ski or tour. My first trip was February 1983. I was feeling better than our trip to Paris – morning sickness a distant memory, in shape from Army physical training. I’ve never been athletic, and knew I probably didn’t have the coordination to try downhill skiing and risk a real fall, so I signed up for cross-country lessons. It was a blast!
Every day we were taken to a different area around Garmisch. It was all beautiful, refreshing and revitalizing – but the day that I remember specifically is when we skied through Oberammergau. I had read of the Passion Play put on every ten years by the residents of this community, and skiing through the snow laden area after reading a little of the history made it all a bit more real for me.