The September 17, 2015, Wall Street Journal article about the migrant crisis and Germany’s annual Oktoberfest included this pull-out quote: “Asylum seekers in particular from Muslim countries aren’t used to encountering heavily drunk people in public,” Bavaria’s interior minister, Joachim Herrmann, said. “It could get out of hand.”
The article — entitled “Migrant Crisis Clashes With Germany’s Oktoberfest, Highlighting Broader Pushback on Merkel’s Policy: Giant beer party opens Saturday as Bavaria and the rest of Germany struggle to house tens of thousands of asylum seekers” by Andrea Thomas in Munich and Anton Troianovski in Berlin — stated:
This week, Munich police officials tried to reassure the public that they have matters under control. The biggest challenge, deputy Munich police chief Werner Feiler said, would be keeping order at the central train station, which could have large numbers of beer festival visitors and migrants passing through simultaneously.
“We have currently here in Munich a situation that doesn’t compare to any Wiesn operation before,” Mr. Feiler said, using the colloquial Bavarian term for Oktoberfest’s main venue in central Munich.
My husband Mitch and I have our own personal recollection of arriving at the Munich central train station during Oktoberfest:
In September of 1970 — at the 11th hour — the U.S. Army informed my husband that he had orders for Munich and I had concurrent travel orders.
Without going into a long story, suffice it to say that Mitch and I arrived in Munich on a Sunday with our eight allowed pieces of luggage and no idea where in Munich we needed to go. As we stood on the train station platform surrounded by drunken gastarbeiters (guest workers from countries such as Turkey) we did not yet realize we had arrived during the annual Oktoberfest.
Luckily Mitch had taken German in high school and was thus able to snag a taxi for us and all our luggage that I had stood guard over while surrounded by drunken revelers. All Mitch knew to say to the taxi driver regarding our destination were the German words for “American post.”
Unbeknownst to us, because the Olympics were to be in Munich two years from then in September 1972, the Germans had prevailed on the Americans to already move almost all American military units out of Munich except for the group to which Mitch had been assigned. This meant that there was only one place the taxi driver could take us.
A few days later we experienced Oktoberfest up close and personal: The monthly mandatory Hail and Farewell for the officers and spouses of the 66th Military Intelligence Group was held in a tent at the main Oktoberfest venue in central Munich. Mitch and I were welcomed there while others were sent off to Vietnam amidst a great deal of eating and drinking.
Years later Mitch and I used our experience at Oktoberfest as the basis for a comedic chase sequence in our screenplay HOT POTATO. (We subsequently adapted the screenplay into a novella, which is available at www.amzn.com/B00G8P6SXO in Kindle format.)
And of course our experience at Oktoberfest is included in my Cold War memoir TALES OF AN AMERICAN OCCUPYING GERMANY, which can be read for free on Wattpad at http://budurl.com/TAintro
Back to this year’s Oktoberfest — unless the beer taps are turned off right now, anything can happen.
© 2015 Miller Mosaic LLC
Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller) has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is the author of fiction and nonfiction books/ebooks, including HOW TO SUCCEED IN HIGH SCHOOL AND PREP FOR COLLEGE and the romantic suspense spy thriller CIA FALL GUY, as well as books not yet published. She can be reached at email@example.com