Monday, 27 December 2010

Polizei! Ausweis!

That was the greeting from a German policeman on the train to Cologne last Thursday. It means "Police! Identification!". Although I was born well after the Second World War (when Holland was occupied by Nazi Germany), the expression did heark back to the dark days of the early 40s. In this case, the burly PC flashed his policeman's badge in my face, upon which I had to comply with his request for my passport. The guy could at least speak Dutch, as I was too flabbergasted to muster my rusty German for an appropriate reply (no, don't even think of it). He demanded to know whether I lived in the UK (my passport is marked as having been issued in London) and what I was going to do in Cologne. He shone in light in my rucksack, which only contained a folder for my travel documents, so he quickly realised that I was just an innocent tourist, out for a daytrip. A fellow passenger, travelling to Leipzig, intimated that sometimes passengers would be taken off the train in instances like this. In retrospect, I realise that "undesirable elements" can use the ICE trains to smuggle themselves into a country. Formally, there is an open border between Holland and Germany, but checks are being carried out nonetheless.

1 comment:

Joann said...

I remember being scared to death back in the 80's when I was there, and 3 VERY armed officers got on our tour bus, one walked past us and demanded to see all our passports, which wasn't a problem, mainly because the two guards/officers at the front of the bus each had what looked to me like VERY huge machine guns.... they probably weren't QUITE that, but I wasn't gonna ask. LOL!!

Glad they didn't hassle you too much. Be safe.