Among the attendees of this particular garden party were several people who had been high ranking officials in East Germany before the wall fell, some of them Stasi. R and I quietly joked between ourselves about cameras being in the trees. One of the guys we talked to now works as a department store detective, and it seems appropriate that his well-honed spying skills have not gone to waste, although OMG the irony of this guy now working in a temple of capitalism.
Some of the women at the party had been teachers. R told me that the teachers had been some of the worst back then because they would listen to everything the children in their classes said, and if anything against the regime was overheard, the parents would be apprehended. Of course, none of them spoke about this at the party.
I have to admit I had a great time, and was super glad my German has progressed to a level where I could hang out with these old timers and understand them and converse. It was a fascinating experience.
After the party, on our way back to R's Datscha, the landlord saw us across the field and waved us over to where he and a small gathering of family and friends had lit a bonfire and were drinking wine. They're an old aristocratic family and own the manor house and surrounding land. We shared a glass of wine with them before calling it a night. What a massive contrast it was, though, with conversation at one point touching on how difficult it is to find good help (meaning servants, of course).