George W. Pearson

As Interviewed by Naomi P., March 9, 2019

George W. Pearson: In His Own Words

I am George Wesley Pearson. I entered the United States Army in 1971 at the end of the Vietnam War but I never went to Vietnam. Instead I was assigned to Germany. In January of 1971 I entered the army and went through counter intelligence and German language training here in the United States and then in January of 1973 went to Pirmasens, Germany as the assistant S2 or Security Officer for the Second Battalion 56th Air Defense Artillery Brigade.

One time I was at an MI conference in West Berlin and they put together a tour for us into East Berlin and they had all of us together, we all rode the same bus, we stayed together in one location, we had chaperones who knew East Berlin and the travel procedures. They watched and made sure everybody stayed together and didn't wander of and nobody approached us. And then we all got back on the bus and came back. We were over there three hours maybe, that was all.

Walking and living in West Germany was just like living here. Americans and Germans would walk side by side, and we would depending on the language converse and ask questions, people would come up to you in restaurants and want to visit with you and know where you were from in the United States. Just very open and accepting for the most part. In East Germany the people walking by and kind of keeping an eye on you, knowing you were from the West -- but they couldn’t talk to you; suspicious of you -- a lot of suspicion, and you saw that in their eyes and their behavior. The buildings in West Berlin, it was as modern as any town in West Germany, new construction and new paint, and colorful and flowers, landscaping. In East Berlin, when you pass through Checkpoint Charlie, buildings are grey, concrete. Streets are very plain and simple, little landscaping or flowers, very few colors. Peoples clothing and dress is pretty drab. You could tell they were living still in the past. Communism in the east had not allowed the Germans to move forward with a standard of living that would allow them to build and grow and buy. Different way of life just a different environment, really did not have a whole lot of desire to go back.