Just Don't Turn Around (Chapter 4, page 1 of 49)

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Chapter 4

Monday 30 July 1984 - Traiskirchen.

Shortly before lunch, we arrived at the refugee camp in the town of Traiskirchen, and unaware of the situation, I entered with our car through the main entrance and stopped in front of a red and white gate. The gatekeeper in a military uniform and with the automatic rifle on his shoulder came up to our car and asked in German through the open window: "What is the purpose of your visit?"

"Political asylum," I said in German.

"You can not go inside with your car; you have to park in the street," said the gatekeeper.

I backed up the car and parked in the street. From the outside the camp looked like a military base, and as I learned later, once upon a time this was a military base. Following Austria's declared neutrality, the government reduced the size of its army and since then the building has been utilized for refugee accommodations. And there used to be enough of them because Austria's neighbors, Hungary and the former Czechoslovakia, were both Communist countries. Communism in just those two countries alone produced well over ten thousand refugees each year.

We entered the camp, and at a small window by the main entrance, we registered ourselves as refugees who sought political asylum. They took fingerprints of all of us and immediately afterwards one of the armed guards escorted us away to the third floor of the main building where he passed us on to another guard, and when we entered the compound, they locked the door behind us.

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