There is hardly a city in the world with richer historical associations than the German capital, and in Exploring Cold War Berlin, Philip Baumann guides us through its post-World War Two streets fascinating and accessible detail.
We are strictly off the beaten track as we head to the location where, just eleven days after the border wall went up in 1961, East German citizen Günter Litfin was shot dead in a failed escape attempt. We will also see the spot Conrad Schumann, the East German border guard made his daring leap into the West over a barbed wire fence. Then, we’ll see where the deadly bomb wrecked La Belle, a West Berlin discotheque popular with U.S. servicemen – leading to President Reagan ordering air strikes on Libya.
As we walk the streets of the capital, we’ll explore the famed Stasi prisons and headquarters, Palace of Tears crossing point, in tact remains of the Wall, the cemetery of the GDR elite, the famed refugee centre, the airports where the Berlin Airlift took place, the Rosa Luxembourg crime scene, we will stand where JKF declared ‘Ich Bin Eine Berliner’, visit the amazing Allied museum, and then head out to the Bridge of Spies and see the very room Europe’s fate was decided at the Potsdam Conference.
Then, we continue in this most fascinating of cities by seeing where the poet, playwright, and theatre director Bertolt Brecht lived and where Erich Honecker, Egon Krenz and over 20 other big-wigs from East Germany called home. If you like movies, you’ll love Babelsberg Film Studios, once the home of DEFA and UFA and the home of Nazi, then East German cinema.
Head underground to look at a former ‘ghost station’ which was abandoned during the Cold War and see the huge US military listening station on the edge of West Berlin.
If you fancy, we could look at the little plane used by Matthias Rust, who at just 19, flew from Helsinki to Moscow, causing a sensation. The plane now has a home in Berlin- it’s an attraction not to be missed.
Take a look at ‘Staatsratsgebäude’ is a uniquely beautiful structure, just a few blocks from Alexanderplatz from where Walter Ulbricht maintained his iron-grip on East Germany.
We could also squeeze in a trip to the Forum Willy Brandt, on Unter den Linden – a modern and informative exhibition about the popular politician and the political developments of the last century.