Wonder years in Berlin

When the Wall fell, I had already managed to go through three autumns in West Berlin, six different apartment sublets and one night in the interrogation room of the East German border police in Bahnhof Friedrichstrasse.

I had experienced the last echo of the Cold War in the form of police batons whizzing in the big anti-Reagan demonstration in 1987 and on countless occasions heard the German shepherds of DDR Customs yelping on the quay at Sassnitz from inside a sealed sleeping car. In East Berlin, I had reluctantly drunk from an open bottle of chocolate liqueur making the rounds when three Bulgarian dissidents were lauded at the opening of an underground art gallery; in West Berlin, I had attended sleep-inducing seminars with the star philosopher of the era, Jacques Derrida, and tried to suppress my coughs at press conferences where Heiner Müller waved his Cuban cigar and to the audience’s glee called Gorbachev “a Messiah in a bearskin hat.”


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