Berlin: Die Geteilte Stadt
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Berlin, the former capital of the German Reich, now stands as a monument to the divisions of Germany. Split among the four powers at the end of the war, the freedom of movement it allowed between East and West proved an impossible drain on the manpower and economy of the GDR, and in 1962 the Berlin Wall was built, dividing the city into two, separating families, standing as a physical reminder of the Cold War. After so many years the wall retains its eerie fascination, viewed as a tourist attraction from the West and as an impossible barrier from the East. The following extract from Peter Schneider’s novel Der Mauerspringer describes the effect of arriving in Berlin by plane, and catching one’s first glimpse of the divided city from the air. Schneider’s aim in the passage is to give an airline passenger’s view of Berlin as an ordinary city, the divisions only being revealed gradually as the wall comes into sight, its purpose not at first clear, and not finally revealed until the free-flying shadow of the plane touches down on one side of the frontier.
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