The border between East and West has, with the exception of a few visible reminders, vanished. But come to Berlin in 2014 and the Cold War is still alive and well. At least if you know where to look. Museums, walking tours and even restaurants dedicated to the former East have all popped up in recent years — and not just for tourists; for locals, too.Arthur Frommer never had this one in his books;
I stayed just down the road at [hotel] Ostel, an East German-themed property. (The clocks behind the front desk, for example, were set to the time in Moscow, Beijing, Havana and Berlin.)Nor the Osseria;
I was greeted just inside the door by a mannequin wearing an old East German army outfit. Then I was greeted by Andrea Ansmann, co-owner of the restaurant. She recommended I start with a bowl of the soljanka, a Russian tomato soup that had a heavy dollop of sour cream in it, and then the schweinebrotten, a pork roast that had, curiously, a thin layer of cheese stretched over it. I would have asked for a side of Lipitor for my soon-to-be-hardening arteries, but, knowing the restaurant is trying to be as authentic as possible, I knew it wouldn’t be available.Though there's nothing like having lived the nightmare;
I stopped by the home of Salomea Genin. Genin, 82 years old, has written two memoirs (both in German and English) about her life in Australia and Berlin. Born here, she fled Nazi Germany with her family for Australia in 1939. She eventually wound up living in East Berlin from the 1960s until the fall of the wall.Not that Salomea was all that sharp on the uptake;
“The museums tend to simplify what was going on in East Germany,” Genin told me in her apartment in the Mitte neighborhood. “A bigger issue is that there are a lot of people now who are ostalgisch — nostalgic for the East. They only remember the prices were stable and they had a bungalow in the countryside. But they forget that they never had freedom of speech.”
In 1951, as a delegate to the "3rd World Youth Festival" in East Berlin, she wanted to help build an anti-fascist state in the newly-founded German Democratic Republic (East Germany). In 1963, after a nine-year struggle to get in, she finally settled there. Twenty years later, she realized that she was living in a police state, one in which she had willingly participated.Now there's a piece for a museum; someone who fought to go from West Berlin to East.