Posts Tagged ‘STASI


Reading Berlin


Each time I am in Berlin I like to read local. In this case the book had been purchased at Hatchard’s in London, but that’s it, I like to schlepp books across Europe. If I have not a book when approaching public transport I feel naked. Kindle-free zone, yes.

“The Good German” is set in Berlin just after its liberation. “Leaving Berlin” takes place a few years after, in 1948. The plot is even more tangled. And as I read, I know all the streets, the corners, the bridges. What I did not expect, is that a key tun of the story takes place exactly in our Kiez…close to home. Are you curious to check that out? Spoiler! Continue reading ‘Reading Berlin’


The many ports of Berlin: Tempelhofer Hafen

In the weekend press there was this article about the Hotel Luftbrücke in Dudenstrasse, which was owned by the MfS (aka STASI) and was used as a base for DDR spies in West Berlin and for spying US airforce crews staying at the hotel, opposite Tempelhof airport. The hotel now no longer exists, the building has been turned into apartments. Still the area around Tempelhof is haunted by history. The blockade, Columbia Haus in the nazi period, the Viktoria column on top of its eponymous park…

Affectionate readers of this blog know how much we love to browse around the many Berlin airports and how much we’re going to miss Tegel when it will close down in a year’s time. But this year we decided to go discovering also the many ports of Berlin. After Westhafen, enter Tempelhofer Hafen.

It’s tucked below the airport field, in the heart of Tempelhofer Damm neighborhood. More than a hundred years old, like many of the buildings we love in Berlin, it was designed by Christain Havestadt and was refurbished in 2008 by REM+tec Architekten and West 8.

Similarly to Westhafen, there are quays with sliding cranes but here the basin is squared and closed by a dam. Here not only cereals but also sugar, tobacco and oils were stocked under the silos pointy roofs. Compared to Westhafen on the Spandauer Kanal, this port on the Teltow Kanal has a slightly more Dutch feeling to it.

Even here we can’t break away from the very special Berlin history. Until the reunification this was one of the locations where the strategic reserves of food of West Berlin were stocked, the famous “Senatreserve”.

The place now has now become a mixed-use development, with retail on the Tempelhoferdamm side and a couple of bars and Strandbars on the quay. On a boat, fabulous Bismarkbrötchen. Strategic berlinese food…


My own private STASI?

In the 80s we did not have Macs and iPads at home but many among us did spend part of the night surfing in a compulsive way nonetheless, or at least, I did. I listened to the radio. And it was even more magic and hypnotic than the World Wide Web.

It all started when my cousin introduced me to the mystique of the British illegal radio stations broadcasting from ships in the North Sea: Continue reading ‘My own private STASI?’


L’enfance aux pays socialistes

I am now reading another graphic novel: Marzi, by Sowa and Savoia. The childhood of a Polish girl (Sowa). Marzi is set in the 80s and there’s Jaruzelskij and Chernobyl, Solidarnosc and the Pope.

In a sense it’s my teenage years. I remember the empty shelves of the Emona Slovenian supermarkets. The availability of just one brand of biscuits. Chocolates had to be with cherry filling. The difference is that we would travel across the border, to Yugoslavia, to do some selected shopping. The first private butchers started to appear in Slovenia and their home-slaughtered meats were very good. They preferred to sell to foreigners in order to make bigger profits.

Sometimes we felt awkward because the locals were queuing at the state-owned shops. We felt we were “robbing” them of their best products. But on the other hand, with the somewhat “harder” currency (the lira!) the butcher could invest in livestock and employ some people, and change some lives. We were very fond of our Slovenian butchers.

We would buy meat, yogurt (which was much better than the Italian one) and sometimes I insisted in having my Dad buying me some Napolitaner (wafers with a pink packaging – State products) and the legendary Pez candies with their capitalistic-Disney plastic dispensers.

Later, during my teenage years, I had many penpals from the Socialist Countries. And learnt what a Pewex store was from my friend Gregorz from Czestochowa and what the STASI was from my many DDR friends.

We were not living in a socialist country. But in Triest we knew very well what it meant.


Twitter & the STASI

My brother just Twitted me from Triest, he’s watching tonight “The lives of others”, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s incredible movie  on RAI1.

We saw the film at the cinema when it came out and then I bought a DVD in the Original Version. In German of course it’s more impressive. Since then I’ve collected and listened to the RADIO2 and RADIO3 STASI programmes over the past months (See Wall section) and more importantly, I’ve read Anna Funder’s book, Stasiland.

I was wondering tonight, what the STASI would have been like, if Twitter had existed back then. A STASI Twitter, where Erich & Erich would be the sole administrators, being able to see all sorts of tweets from unofizielle Mitarbeiters...”Frau Schumann now out with her grey shopping bag – Herr Peters entering the ironmongers’ – Official: Erika Schmidt has an affair with her professor” and so on…

Continue reading ‘Twitter & the STASI’


The monopoly of memory

An interesting video by Deutsche Welle about the wall, the GDR, our relationship with history and the perception we have of it…and the fact that nobody is entitled to have the monopoly of memory.


hungry as a wolf

Two posts ago, we were the 1980s, the Cold War and the Iron Curtain were there lebonsimonlebonand I was in love with both John Taylor and Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran. Geez…I could not make up my mind! In Cold War attire, Le Bon had a bon enfant sovietique spy attitude.

So it seems quite appropriate, after last week’s full immersion on STASI’s Eric Mielke, to get to know more about Markus Wolf.

Listen to the whole story on Radio2’s “The STASI over Berlin”



Thank you Mik for  the heads up!

And well done to Radio 2 for the “View to a kill” cameo. After all, “a fatal kiss – is all we need”.

Continue reading ‘hungry as a wolf’

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