I noticed a difference driving through former East German territory in comparison to West Germany. We drove through maybe a dozen small towns and they all looked very much the same, very quiet with few people moving about and maybe a few vehicles.
The houses and neighborhoods were more plain. The flower boxes seen in so many West German windows were missing here. More often, windows were obscured by full curtains, or were simply closed up by shutters. I imagined the people hiding somewhere; it seemed so deserted.
And not just the neighborhoods, but even the towns. There were a few small businesses here and there, but where are all the people? Where are the cars driving through town (aside from ours)? There were a few vehicles parked off the road, but the life of the town often seemed to have disappeared, or at least gone into hibernation. Perhaps there was a holiday we didn't know about, but maybe this is just how the people still live after so many years of repression.
Even this crossing guard seemed starkly different to the crossing guards in other areas of Germany. It's interesting that the crossing guard would block the road, and then we'd sit wait ing for five or ten minutes (testing my patience severely) until eventually a train would pass by.