Throughout the novel I tried to capture the many different ways Berlin presented itself over the course of four seasons. Here is a sampling of some of the photos I took while living there. If you are interested in copying or using them, please have a look at the copyright notice.
Gallery 1: Berlin Moods
Every great city has its moods and Berlin is no exception. These photographs capture some of them.
Gallery 2: Friedrichstrasse
Friedrichstrasse, one of Berlin's historically most lively and colourful streets suffered terribly during the Second World War and the punishing decades of socialism afterwards. These photos portray some of the action to try to recover a little of the lost ground.
Gallery 3: Potsdamer Platz
From a cityscape perspective, no place in Berlin was as overwhelming after the Wall fell as Potsdamer and Leipzigerplatz. The engineering was spectacular — a haunting, ephemeral beauty of great machines busy building and creating. For some months Potsdamerplatz was made up of the deepest lakes in all of Brandenburg.
"What about Potsdamer Platz, a place one filled with throngs of people? Potsdamer Platz, the heart of Berlin before the bombs rained down. After the annihilation it was a collection of ghostly black and burned out shells. The little that remained after the war was dynamited away, the bricks recovered and recycled into utilitarian structures someplace else. Greatness reprocessed into dullness." (p. 116)
Gallery 4: Reichstag
The changing face of the Reichstag, "a place where German history was always ending, never beginning..." throughout the 1990's was fascinating. These photos were taken over a period of five years.
Gallery 5: Berlin Walks
Walking through Berlin's many different neighbourhoods requires stamina, but brings huge rewards. This very small sprinkling of photos provides a glimpse of what can be seen.
"Trekking through cemeteries he studied names on Jewish gravestones in one, and of Huguenots in another. He discovered the places of eternal rest of famous personalities ..." (p. 182)
Gallery 6: Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall fascinated and horrified the world from 1961 to 1989, both as a symbol and as a terrifying and dangerous barrier. Have there ever been other "walls" in history which had its purpose — running through the centre and around part of a historically vibrant city so as to lock people out?
"Sealed in. Sealed out," she said with resignation. "Sealed off." (p. 79)
"The Wall ran into the river here and continued on the opposite side. At first, Easterners tried to swim out through the watery opening. Good shooting practice for Communist border patrols: a decent distance, a target that moves, though not too fast. On the south bank by the Reichstag the West kept score. Dozens of white crosses sprouted up." (p. 426)
Gallery 7: Berlin Political
The post Second World War powers (US, Soviet Union, UK and France) which decided Germany's future in 1945 maintained a strong and very visible presence in Berlin, which after the War was divided up into four sectors, until 1994. As part of their agreement with the two Germanies which had decided to reunify, the four powers departed Berlin (three from West Berlin, and Russia from East Berlin) in August and September 1994. Russia of course also had to get off German (NATO) soil. It became branded as the loser of the Cold War. Even so, the departure ceremony was dignified and honourable.
"The Russians are beginning to depart. Six hundred thousand of them. Imagine the logistics."
"One of the all-time great military retreats." (p. 469)
The opening up of East German government buildings, and their dismantling, was another dimension of Berlin which was powerfully symbolic of a political philosphy which failed miserably and was simply swept away. The demolition of the East German foreign ministry, a sad piece of socialist architecture, was carried out in a typically orderly and well-planned way. One could see irony in the fact that the DDR's foreign ministry still exists, but as recycled filler material underneath Germany's numerous fast, new autobahn's on which Porsches, Mercedes and BMWs easily exceed speeds of 200 km/h.
Gallery 9: Pierre Trudeau in Berlin
Pierre Trudeau does not figure in the novel, but he came to Berlin in 1994 and spent four days. It was a great privilege for me to spend the weekend showing him around.
June 28 reading and reception at the Ottawa residence of His Excellency, Matthias Hoepfner, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Canada. These are photos taken at the event by Wolfgang Grambert.