OK. So I went back to Berlin.
......Ten years later, and fifteen since the wall fell. Longer than that, in fact, but I'm just keeping to round numbers. Modern reporters go there nowadays and say that the wall is so gone, there's nothing to see, it's been obliterated. I say that is nonsense, the whole city still resonates from its 20th century history, and especially, concerning 'The Wall'. What you have to look at is not concrete and stone, but at the people. I have been prompted into doing this because I have just read a book by the brilliant writer Anna Funder, called 'Stasiland', which does indeed put the people of the DDR centre stage. Both heroes and villains are subjected to the same scrutiny, and I can't recommend this book highly enough to all students of the period. Now I'm trying to think about this text for my little contribution, my web-page, and what I want to do is to address the students and teachers who have been using my site as a 'primary source', and try to get across to them that the crimes of the DDR authorities were a lot worse than just making life boring for their citizens, which I seemed to intimate in my previous essays. They were actively torturing and murdering decent people who tried to live decent lives, while they themselves were living in privileged circumstances, with Western luxuries the normal population never saw. And not one of the torturers, whose activities are well documented now, has been brought to trial. In fact, most of them are now doing rather well in the modern Germany. These new essays will of course no longer be a 'primary source', but I couldn't let the old essays stand without acknowledging the devastating contents of Anna Funder's book. Of course, I will go into the physical facts on the ground about the wall itself, and its disappearance, and what is there now. I will start with a piece on the Potsdamer Platz, as the contrast is so great there, because it was such a desolate place before. The first essay 'Potsdamer Platz 2005' has now been posted. Click on the link below to see it. I will follow this with an expanded pictures page for the old and new Potsdamer Platz essays.
Many thanks to Greg O'Brien, who hosts this site, for permission to expand my stuff on his server!