This November it will be a quarter century since the judgment of Berlin
befell Marx and Engels. David Farley checks out how they're doin'
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
Now there's a piece for a museum; someone who fought to go from West Berlin to East.
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