At the German-Polish border, there is plenty of police right now. What are they looking for, I wonder and ask.
Cigarette smugglers, says the female officer, while her two male colleagues are ostentatiously of the opinion that they don’t have to respond to questions by mere citizens. Or maybe they are on strike. A lot of people are on strike right now. Because of inflation and stuff. But when there is deflation, no one pays back part of their salary voluntarily. Homo homini inflatius.
I ask whether the smuggling happens in both directions. The customs lady looks at me as if she were mentally checking her rudimentary knowledge of criminal law for whether stupidity is an arrestable offense. It isn’t. Otherwise the prisons would be full, I can tell you that, especially around Valentine’s Day.
Cigarettes are usually only smuggled from Poland to Germany, she says in a tone as if one might really know that from Sesame Street.
I thank her and walk to Poland in a deliberately inconspicuous manner. That’s quite easy. Guben, German side. Bridge. Gubin, Polish side. No passport, no barrier, no check. You don’t even get shot anymore. It’s a jolly good thing, this European Union. Now, people are only dying at the external borders, where you don’t have to look at it.
I am one of those Germans who, each time I cross the border, become aware, at least in abstract terms, of how much suffering Germany has brought upon our friendly neighboring country. Not least because my Polish flatmates in Bari have reminded me of this time and again. Not intentionally, I suppose. But they were young and hadn’t experienced anything interesting themselves. So they told stories about their grandparents. And there were always Germans who had set the farm on fire, drunk all the milk, slaughtered the cow, frightened grandma and shot grandpa.
And now the Germans are even smuggling the cigarettes away from under the Polish noses.
I decide, as a small gesture of reparation, to smuggle a cigar to the Polish side every day and smoke it there.
They have the more beautiful parks over there, anyway.
If you are looking for a park in Poland, by the way, you can always ask for Adam Mickiewicz. He planted a park in every small town. Really in every single one. He should be made some kind of national hero for that.