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WHEN THE BERLIN wall crumbled last week, Martin, my friend from the East, called from the West.

Like a herald of more good things to come, I talked with Martin, Ingrid and their 4-year-old daughter, Barbara, who were using the phone of a friend in West Berlin.

I had been visiting Martin and Ingrid in East Berlin for almost 20 years.

I had smuggled jazz records galore over the Friedrichstrasse control point. Until recently visitors were permitted to bring only food into the East.

We spent afternoons around the kitchen table laden with things he only knew from books: French wine, cheeses and pate, Black Forest ham, scotch and American whiskey.

Weather permitting we took long walks through the vast Jewish cemetery in the Weissensee section of town or short ones around the small Huguenot cemetery on the Chauseestrasse filled with graves of famous Germans.

I'm not sure when it exactly happened, but at some time during those 20 years of visits the secret police stopped following me to Martin's house.

In the beginning, they'd park and wait until I left. They didn't hide; they wanted to intimidate us.

I only asked Martin once whether he thought of leaving the police state that was called East Germany.

''I couldn't. Someone's got to stay and someday it will get better. But I admit it's often hard to believe it.'' We always parted with the thought that someday he, with his wife and child, would travel to Frankfurt and I would be the guide. But we both never believed it would happen.

Last weekend, millions came to West Berlin, and I got a call. It was Martin from the West. He was out walking the baby and exercising a right.


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