"I am not coming anywhere," Schmidt said.
The policeman faltered a bit. "Don't make trouble," he said.
Schmidt said later, "They never asked for my papers and they never called me by name, but I knew this was certainly not a case of mistaken identity. I have sometimes wondered what would have happened if I had refused to go, fought them and fled. Possibly I could have gotten away for a time, but I knew that if the Stasi really wanted me, they would get me sooner or later. So I relaxed and said, 'O.K., where are we going?' "
They put Schmidt in the back of the police car. His shoulders filled two thirds of the seat, crowding a frowning young officer next to him. They headed south to the autobahn leading out of Berlin and sped past bright-green fields and sun-dappled woods for perhaps 20 minutes before turning onto a two-lane road that took them through two medieval villages and past a long body of shining water that was just visible through stands of tall trees. Schmidt knew it was the Motzener See, a pretty lake whose wooded shores were dotted with the dachas and villas of vacationing East Berliners. The car turned into the woods, stopped for sentries at two chain-link gates and pulled up at a two-story villa on the shore of the lake. At first glance, it resembled the other summer retreats they had passed, but then Schmidt realized it was made of concrete blocks and its windows were barred.
Clearly it was a prison, but inside Schmidt was surprised to find it furnished like a summer home, with overstuffed furniture, carpets, curtains, TV sets. The VPs and two Stasi staff guards in civilian clothes ushered him to the second floor and into a room—his cell—where the bed was covered with a flowery bedspread and the window had curtains. Through the bars in the window, Schmidt could see boats on the water and hear the shouts of swimmers.
It was all quite surreal. When the Stasi and the VPs left, Schmidt heard latches click twice and keys turn twice and realized his cell had double doors, double-locked. He went to the inner door, knocked sharply and called out, "I must phone my parents to tell them what has happened to me."
A muffled voice replied, "No phone."
Schmidt asked how long he would be held. No answer. He put his ear to the keyhole. No sound at all. Less than two hours had passed since he had left the cozy apartment on Stahlheimer Strasse. He paced the room, shouted into the keyhole, pounded the door, lay down on the flowery bedspread, got up, paced the room, gazed out at cheerful people enjoying the lake. He fought down a wave of panic, then depression. "Time was passing very slowly," he recalled later. "I experienced a powerful melancholy, and I wondered, Why? Why? Why? I felt I was watching a movie about someone else."
If there was any movie playing on this day, it was the story of Wolfgang Schmidt's life, and it was running backward. It was as if every discus he had ever hurled was leaping up off the stadium turf and rising backward to the apex of his throw, then drifting down into the clutch of his hand as he rotated backward in the throwing circle, slower and slower until he came to a stop and then strode backward out of the throwing cage, away from all the competitions he had ever entered, away from all the medals he had ever won, until he disappeared backward through a door under the stadium and none of his heroics had ever happened.
Schmidt had been a certified national hero of the G.D.R. for virtually all of his adult life. He had won his first national discus championship for youths when he was 15, the national championship for seniors when he was 21, the silver medal in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal when he was 22. He had set the world record with a throw of 233'5" in East Berlin in 1978, at the age of 24. He had twice been presented the Order of Merit of the Fatherland, the G.D.R.'s highest award. Unlike most East Germans, he had traveled abroad widely, and he was often recognized, a handsome giant who moved with the grace God gives to jungle cats and natural athletes. He possessed a sudden, radiant smile that made him look as carefree as a boy, and when he wasn't numbed by the inactivity of Sportverbot, he was a passionate, rampaging fellow who was quick—very quick—to share with the world whatever mood happened to strike him. He tended to raise his voice in public in embarrassingly raucous outbursts of either joy or anger, and he was a frequent practical joker who punctuated his pranks with high, hooting laughter. Certainly, Wolfgang Schmidt did not fit the mold of the model East German sports hero—sober, stoic, obedient.