The train had been stationary for twenty minutes when a burly uniformed German fought his way through the drunken crowds of costumed youth. An apparently claustrophobic young girl stood hyperventilating at the cracked window as her friend fanned her with one hand and took metronomic swigs of Franziskaner with the other.

The train was completely packed to the brim with jolly liederhosen’d men and braided women in dirndls. They had been pouring beer down their gullets since daybreak, and at this point in the early afternoon were raving drunk. The puny train bathrooms were unable to keep up with the demands that such debauchery places on the bladder, and the stench of beer, piss, and sweat began to permeate the sweltering train cabins.

Still, the collective attitude was rather jovial as most people found the situation to be one of cartoonish adventure rather than utter disaster. It wasn’t long before German pragmatism took the reins.

It was only a 3-foot jump to the tracks from the train doors, which had been forcibly opened despite the roars of the aforementioned uniformed official, and a pair of striking young German men offered their hands to the masses as they poured out of the doors onto the gravel.

As we waited to be shepherded by a chain of similarly chivalrous volunteers down the steep embankment, a commotion began down at the fence which stood between us and the beer festival. A chant spread among the throngs – “Reißen die Mauer! REIßEN! DIE! MAUER! Tear down the wall!” With the enthusiastic brawn that one would expect from a group of German men in traditional dress, the chain-link fence was destroyed, and the refugees poured into the waiting arms of freedom.

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