East Berlin

Shortly after midnight of August 13, 1961 construction began on a barrier that would divide Berlin for 28 years. The Berlin Wall was a desperate measure by a DDR government on the verge of economic and political collapse to stem the exodus of its own people: 2.6 million of them had left for the West since 1949.
Euphemistically called ‘Anti-Fascist Protection Barrier’, this grim symbol of oppression stretched for 160 kilometres, turning West Berlin into an island of democracy within a sea of socialism. Continually reinforced and refined over time, its cold concrete slabs backed up against a ‘death zone’ of barbed wire, mines, attack dogs and watchtowers staffed by trigger-happy border guards.
More than 5000 people attempted an escape, but only about 1600 made it across; most were captured and 191 were killed. The full extent of the system’s cruelty became blatantly clear on August 17, 1962 when 18-year-old Peter Fechtner was shot during his attempt to flee and was then left to bleed to death whilst the East German guards looked on.
At the end of the Cold War this potent symbol was eagerly dismantled. Memento seekers chiselled away much of it and entire sections ended up in museums around the world. Most of it, though, was unceremoniously recycled for use in road construction. Today little more than a mile of the Wall is left, but throughout Berlin segments, memorial sites, museums and signs commemorate this horrifying but important chapter in German history. Besides the places mentioned below, the Haus am Checkpoint Charlie also chronicles this period.
Beside the wall on Bergstraße. The church shown in the period photo was the Church of Reconciliation, completed in 1894 as an imposing brick-built building by the architect Gotthilf Ludwig Möckel, in the Gothic revival style. It received minor damage during the war, and still had a deactivated American bomb found during its reconstruction in 1999, but the church survived the war.  With the Berlin's division in 1945, the church building found itself within the Soviet sector, with most of the parishioners in the neighbouring French sector resulting in the Berlin Wall, constructed in 1961, running directly in front of the church on its western side and behind it on the eastern side, preventing access to everyone except the border guards, who used its tower as an observation post. The church building was destroyed in 1985 in order ‘to increase the security, order and cleanliness on the state border with West Berlin’ according to the official justification by the DDR regime. Four years later in 1989, the Wall fell.
The corner of Bernauer Straße and Ackerstraße photographed in 1989 and during my 2020 Bavarian International School class trip. The wall required closing a section of Ackerstraße at the corner with that street, which fell within the "death strip." In commemoration of the Wall and those who died attempting to cross it, a portion of the main and inner walls and the "death strip" are preserved on Bernauer Straße at the corner of Ackerstraße as part of the Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer (Berlin Wall Memorial); 212 metres (696 ft) of the border strip along Bernauer Straße between Ackerstraße and Bergstraße were made a protected landmark on October 2, 1990 and this is now the last genuine remnant of the Wall.

The site before and after the fall of the wall from the British zone
 Tourists posing in front of the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg gate in the British sector on June 6, 1989 and my students in 2013.


East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery describes itself as "an international memorial for freedom." It is a 1316 metre-long section of the Berlin Wall located near the centre of Berlin on Mühlenstraße in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. The actual border at this point was the river Spree. The gallery is located on the so-called "hinterland mauer", which closed the border to West Berlin. This is the longest, best-preserved and most interesting stretch of Wall and the one to see if you’re pressed for time. It was turned into an open-air gallery by international artists in 1990. The better works are located near the Ostbahnhof end. The Gallery consists of 105 paintings by artists from all over the world, painted in 1990 on the east side of the Berlin Wall. It is possibly the largest and longest-lasting open air gallery in the world. Paintings from Jürgen Grosse alias INDIANO, Dimitri Vrubel, Siegfrid Santoni, Bodo Sperling, Kasra Alavi, Kani Alavi, Jim Avignon, Thierry Noir, Ingeborg Blumenthal, Ignasi Blanch i Gisbert, Kim Prisu, Hervé Morlay VR and others have followed.  The paintings at the East Side Gallery document a time of change and express the euphoria and great hopes for a better, more free future for all people of the world.  In July 2006, to facilitate access to the River Spree from O2 World, a 40-meter section was moved somewhat west, parallel to the original position.
Painting 25 is one of the best known of the Berlin wall graffiti paintings, a depiction of Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker kissing as painted by Dmitri Vrubel. On the left is the condition of the painting in 2005 and at the right is me standing beside it after its restoration. The Russian words at the top read "God! help me stay alive" and continue at the bottom "Among this deadly love" ("Господи! Помоги мне выжить среди этой смертной любви"). Vrubel created the painting in 1990. Along with other murals in the section, the painting continued in display after the wall was taken down, but vandalism and atmospheric conditions gradually led to its deterioration. In March 2009, the painting, along with others, was erased from the wall to allow the original artists to repaint them with more durable paints. Vrubel was commissioned to repaint the piece, donating the €3000 fee he was paid to a social art project in Marzahn. My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love (sometimes referred to as the Fraternal Kiss or Bruderkuss) is, according to Anthony Read and David Fisher, "particularly striking, with a sharp, satirical edge." However, it was also widely criticized on creation as a straightforward reproduction of the photograph that inspired it taken on October 7, 1979 when Brezhnev was visiting East Germany at the time to celebrate the anniversary of its founding as a Communist nation.
 A 23-metre section was scheduled to be removed on March 1, 2013, to make way for luxury apartments. None of the artists whose work will be destroyed were informed of these plans. The demolition work actually started on March 1, 2013. According to German news FOCUS, authorities were not aware of the start of the demolition. Due to the involvement of protesters, demolition was postponed until at least March 18, 2013. Nevertheless, Two-thirds of the paintings are badly damaged by erosion, graffiti, and vandalism. One-third has been restored by a non-profit organization which started work in 2000. The objective of this organization is the eventual restoration and preservation of all the paintings. Full restoration, particularly of the central sections, was projected for 2008. Remediation began in May 2009.  
The restoration process has been marked by major conflict. Eight of the artists of 1990 refused to paint their own images again after they were completely destroyed by the renovation. In order to defend the copyright, they founded "Founder Initiative East Side" with other artists whose images were simply copied without permission. Bodo Sperling launched a test case in the Berlin State Court in May 2011, represented by the Munich art lawyer Hannes Hartung and with the support of the German VG Bild-Kunst. The Court will address the question of whether art should be listed as destroyed and then re-copied without the respective artists' permission. The outcome of the trial will be a landmark declaration for European art law.

The memorial to the June 17 uprising, with the DDR-era mural in the background within Göring's former air ministry HQ. The central Monument in memory of the 1953 Uprising in the East German Democratic Republic is represented by a groundfloor relief, surrounded by a low barrier, created by Wolfgang Rüppel. Remarkably, Max Lingner's 18-metre long mural "Aufbau der Republik" (Building the Republic) is allowed to remain in situ.
 Photos from my 2014 and 2016 school trips on the anniversary of the uprising.

Checkpoint Charlie
James Bond at the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War in Octopussy and me in 2020.

Walter Ulbricht agitated and manœuvred to get the Soviet Union's permission to construct the Berlin Wall in 1961 to stop Eastern Bloc emigration westward through the Soviet border system, preventing escape across the city sector border from communist East Berlin into free West Berlin. Checkpoint Charlie became a symbol of the Cold War, representing the separation of East and West. Soviet and American tanks briefly faced each other at the location during the Berlin Crisis of 1961.  After the dissolution of the Eastern Bloc and the reunification of Germany, the building at Checkpoint Charlie became a tourist attraction. It is now located in the Allied Museum in the Dahlem neighbourhood of Berlin. Behind me is the Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, a private museum opened in 1963 by Rainer Hildebrandt, which was augmented with a new building during the 1990s. The two soldiers (one American and one Russian) represented at the Checkpoint Memorial were both stationed in Berlin during the early 1990s.
 Checkpoint Charlie as it appeared in 1961 and during my 2016 Bavarian International School class trip. The crossing has been partly reconstructed with a US Army guardhouse and a copy of the famous sign warning ‘You are now leaving the American sector’. The original is now next door at the private Haus am Checkpoint Charlie shown behind, a popular if cluttered museum reporting mostly on the history and horror of the Berlin Wall. The exhibit is particularly powerful whislt documenting the courage and ingenuity displayed by some DDR citizens in escaping to the West using hot-air balloons, tunnels, concealed compartments in cars and even a one-man submarine.

Stasi Museum

With my students from the Bavarian International School at the entrance of the research and memorial site at Building 1 of the former headquarters of the Ministry for State Security (MfS, Stasi) on Ruschestraße 103, near Frankfurter Allee at U-Bahn Station Magdalenenstrasse Line U5, and as it appeared with East German ruler Erich Honecker saluting Stasi head Erich Mielke. Today it serves as a facility for information about the activities of the State Security , about resistance movements and opposition in the GDR and about aspects of the political system of the GDR . A permanent exhibition ( Stasi Museum ) has been set up in the former, original work rooms of Minister Erich Mielke and his staff. The organisation is run by the Antistalinist Action Berlin-Normannenstrasse associatione. V. (ASTAK), which was founded in the summer of 1990 by civil rights activists in Berlin. Its aim is to promote the expansion of the memorial as a centre for the collection, preservation, documentation, processing and exhibition of testimonials as well as topic-related research on the DDR .
The building, House 1, was erected in 1960-61 as the offices of Erich Mielke, who served as Minister for State Security from 1957 until the end of the DDR. The entire block is a series of grey labyrinthine buildings, all hunched catastrophically together. A city within a city, the Stasi offices came complete with a movie theatre, canteen, a supermarket – and were surrounded by apartment buildings housing the people the Stasi liked to keep a close and paranoid eye on. It is home to Mielke's recently opened office and looks exactly how you'd expect it to look: carved busts of Marx and Lenin lining the hallways and the foyer, brown marble columns, off-white almost yellow walls, tacky gold-coloured railings.  Whereas the first and third floors host a series of exhibitions about survivors of the DDR regime, methods of surveillance, propaganda and general history, the second floor was entirely Mielke's. The abundance of space the man must have enjoyed on this luxury floor is nauseating to some considering how much the citizens of East Germany suffered under his watchful eye. According to Funder (57) in Stasiland, "[i]n Hitler’s Third Reich it is estimated that there was one Gestapo agent for every 2000 citizens, and in Stalin’s USSR there was one KGB agent for every 5830 people. In the GDR, there was one Stasi officer or informant for every sixty-three people. If part-time informers are included, some estimates have the ratio as high as one informer for every 6.5 citizens”.
The facility is located in a large part of the building complex built between 1930 and 1932 for the Lichtenberg tax office. After the war, German communists began to establish a dictatorial system of rule in the Soviet occupation zone (SBZ) of Germany. In 1946, partly through Soviet pressure, the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) united in the Soviet Zone to form the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED), whose leadership level formed the centre of power in the DDR until its collapse in 1989. The rulers created a system of violence and threats, rewards and preference. Individuals were educated to conform, submit and, where possible, to cooperate within the SED dictatorship. The SED had unrestricted access to almost all areas of life - exceptions were the churches, for example - in order to comprehensively control each individual and, if necessary, to reward or discipline them. The core of this ruling apparatus was the Ministry for State Security (MfS), which, as the so-called "shield and sword of the party" under the leadership of the SED, had to protect the "workers and peasants' power" and secure the monopoly of the SED dictatorship.  
At the end of the 1970s, the Ministry of State Security had extensive extensions built, for which, among other things, Max Taut's residential buildings in Normannenstrasse were demolished and the New Apostolic Church relocated. Inside the site, a canteen was built (a monument since 2015 ) and further high service buildings facing Ruschestrasse. After the reunification and peaceful revolution in the DDR , there were numerous protests by angry DDR citizens in front of the Stasi headquarters. In the building, employees of the ministry were busy destroying extensive files. After the head office was stormed on January 15, 1990, many documents were saved. The ASTAK opened the “Normannenstrasse Research and Memorial Site” on November 7, 1990 with the exhibition “Against the Sleep of Reason”. House 1 has been open to the public as a museum since then. The exhibition includes the office and work rooms of the former Minister for State Security Erich Mielkeand other rooms. Since January 2015, the permanent exhibition “State Security in the SED Dictatorship”, which was developed by ASTAK and the Stasi Records Authority , has been on display. The listed building 1 with the offices of the minister and his closest employees was energetically renovated by Arnold and Gladisch Architects and opened to the public again in 2012. The service buildings 7 and 8, which are shown to interested people during guided tours, are used to store the archive materials and have been renovated since 2015- it's shown directly behind me and my 2021 cohort and as it appeared in The Lives of Others:

The permanent exhibition "State Security in the SED Dictatorship" explains the structure, development and functioning of the MfS. It informs visitors about the people who worked for this institution and shows the methods they used to control and persecute the GDR population. The heart of the museum is the historical office rooms of Erich Mielke, the last minister for state security in the GDR, which have been largely preserved in their original condition and can be viewed since 1990. The new permanent exhibition was developed by the sponsoring association of the Stasi Museum ASTAK e.V. in cooperation with the authority of the Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Records (BStU), which has taken on the content-related development of the 1st floor.
Beside the statue of (Iron) Felix Dzerzhinsky in the lobby on the three separate visits to the museum. Dzerzhinsky is best known for establishing and developing the Soviet secret police forces, serving as their director from 1917 to 1926. Later he was a member of the Soviet government heading several commissariats, whilst being the chief of the Soviet secret police. The Cheka soon became notorious for mass summary executions, performed especially during the Red Terror and the Russian Civil War.
In the corridor to the office and working quarters of Mielke. The main hall is dominated by three portraits: a bronze of Lenin; a portrait of Felix Dzerzhinsky, the founder of the Cheka, the forerunner to the KGB; and a painting of what looks to be Richard Sorge, a much-lauded Soviet spy executed by the Japanese during the war. The rooms on this level were designed to meet the needs of Erich Mielke. Their function and interiors remained largely unchanged from the time the building was completed in 1961.This area remained largely intact, even when the building complex was taken over by demonstrators on January 15, 1990. The many objects on display throughout the rooms were, however, later removed and archived.This level is therefore preserved in its original form and visitors can see it today in the condition that it existed when it served as Erich Mielke’s offices. On January 15, 1990 demonstrators took over the Stasi headquarters; the GIF on the right shows the result and with me instead today, exactly as it was before it was.

A week later, the Central Round Table, a committee made up of representatives of the SED dictatorship and civil rights groups, decided that a “memorial and research centre on DDR Stalinism” should be established in House 1. When nothing came of this declaration of intent, members of the Berlin citizens’ committee and other civil rights activists took action and began securing the historic site. In August they founded the association “Antistalinistische Aktion e.V.” (ASTAK). On November 7, 1990, it opened the Research Centre and Memorial at Normannenstrasse with an exhibition titled “Against the Sleep of Reason”. House 1, later named the Stasi Museum, has been open to the public ever since. The offices of Erich Mielke are preserved in their original condition and form the centrepiece of the historic site. The museum today serves as a "centre for the collection, preservation, documentation, rehabilitation and exhibition of evidence and research materials relating to East Germany".

Mielke's personal study then and today, almost perfectly preserved as it was. There's a bed, a small kitchen and a bathroom, which suggests that Mielke must have spent the vast amount of his time working, rarely going home to his wife and son.   Mielke served his post until the wall fell. On November 9, when the wall was accidentally declared "open" at that famous press conference which changed history, the Stasi freaked out and started destroying files as everyday citizens rushed the Stasi offices and demanded to see what had been written about them.  Mielke was kicked out of the party on December 3, almost certainly an attempt by the communists to wash their hands of those who committed unspeakable crimes. No longer shielded by his fancy role in the corrupt government, Mielke was arrested for the murder of the two policemen back in 1931.  In 1992 he was sentence to six years in prison, and served four of those six years at the Moabit prison before being released for medical reasons. Mielke, his lawyers argued, was senile and had forgotten what he had done.

File card depicting exactly how Erich Mielke wanted his breakfast served
the Stasi HQ to which people are taken for questioning, and where Wiesler eventually consults the records for ‘Operation Lazlo’, is the real thing It’s now the Stasi Museum, Ruschestraße 103, Haus 1, in the Lichtenberg district. 
Standing where the scenes with Ulrich Tukur as Lieutenant Colonel Anton Grubitz were shot. His office was directly next to that of Stasi boss Mielke. 
The patina of the GDR had even been preserved. With their typical wood paneling, these offices have a unique "charm" and can be clearly assigned to a particular time and particular style – a situation that is both exciting and oppressive.In order to ensure the greatest authenticity, the producers wanted to shoot on original locations as much as possible. Yet even though the film relates events that took place only fifteen years ago, much has changed since then. "Ultimately, there is not much difference, as far as costs are concerned, whether you're shooting Berlin in 1930 or Berlin in 1984," says producer Max Wiedemann. In order to recreate the backdrop of the GDR, a great deal of effort went into the sets and decors. Particularly arduous was the painting over of graffiti, which is nowadays found everywhere. No sooner had the "works of art" been painted over than they reappeared the following morning!The production was also the first and is, to this day, the only feature film that was allowed to shoot in the original file-card archives of the former Stasi headquarters in the Normannenstrasse with the express authorization of Marianne Birthler, the "Head of the Federal Authority for Documents of the State Security Service of the Former GDR." Scenes bearing a unique eyewitness character arose amidst this gigantic mechanical filing system. The archive was restructured and digitalized after the shooting was completed. The data are preserved, but the location of the files and documents no longer exists in the form shown in the film.

It was from this office here that Mielke commanded a staff that grew from 2,700 at the time of the organisation’s formation in the 1950s to around 91,000 in 1989.  As a consequence of the economic problems of the DDR, Mielke initiated a hiring freeze in 1983, otherwise the ranks would surely have swelled further. Here is his desk, which features his phone, a chair, wood-panelled cupboards (everything is wood-panelled), and a shredder, an ominous nod to the frantic efforts of the Stasi to shred secret documents of the citizens they spied on for an entire generation.
On the third floor Erich Mielke's office is preserved as he left it, his calendar turned to December 1989. Mielke's office has blue chairs, red rugs, wood panelings, and white polyester lace curtains. The furniture is the cheap fifties style found all over the East Bloc. On his desk are plastic ashtrays on doilies, a plaster bust of Lenin, a document shredder, and four telephones. But, as Rosenberg acknowledges, appearances are deceptive for this was the centre of 'the most extensive spy organization in world history'.  
Dennis, ‎Laporte (51) The Stasi: Myth and Reality

Erich Mielke's conference room in his Stasi-central in Berlin-Lichtenberg where he used to meet the 16 Bezirk-leaders from Stasi-departments all over the DDR. There are a series of meeting rooms throughout with fancy worn maps hanging on the walls, long tables, comfortable bright blue chairs, and a secretary's desk complete with a telephone switchboard with oversized comical buttons like the kind one would see in an old James Bond movie.

Prison transporter (Gefangenentransporter ) Barkas B 1000 with 5 cells used by the Stasi
Tapestry with Friedrich Engels, Karl Marx and Lenin.

Before the war the area now occupied by Marx-Engels-Forum was a densely populated Old Town quarter between the river and Alexanderplatz, named after Heiligegeiststraße which ran across it between Kaiser-Wilhelm-Straße (now Karl-Liebknecht-Straße) and Rathausstraße. The area including the main post office was heavily bombed during Allied air attacks and most of its buildings reduced to ruins. After the war the ruins were cleared but nothing replaced them.  While the adjacent Nikolaiviertel was to be rebuilt, the DDR authorities in 1977 set up plans for a green space between the Palast der Republik and the Fernsehturm. The sculptor Ludwig Engelhardt was appointed as director of the project to redevelop the site as a tribute to Marx and Engels, the founders of the communist movement to whose ideology the GDR was dedicated. It consists of a rectangular wooded park with a large, circular paved area in the centre with a sculpture by Engelhardt, consisting of larger-than-life bronze figures of Marx (sitting) and Engels (standing). Behind the statues is a relief wall showing scenes from the history of the German socialist movement. The inauguration took place in 1986.  After German reunification in 1990, the future of the Marx-Engels Forum became the subject of public controversy. Some Berliners saw the Forum as an unwanted relic of a defunct regime which they opposed, and argued for the removal of the statues and renaming of the park. Others argued that the site had both artistic and historical significance, and should be preserved. The latter view eventually prevailed. The statues are now a tourist attraction, and a steady stream of people sit on Marx's knee to have their photos taken. With regard to the planned extension of the U5 line of the Berlin U-Bahn turning the park into a construction site for several years, the Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit has recently launched a discussion whether to rebuild the medieval quarter afterwards.

The DDR Museum is located in the former governmental district of East Germany, right on the river Spree, opposite the Berlin Cathedral. The museum is the 11th most visited museum in Berlin and its exhibition shows the daily life in East Germany in a direct "hands-on"way. For example, a covert listening device ("bug") gives visitors the sense of being "under surveillance".  The museum was opened on July 15, 2006, as a private museum. The private funding is unusual in Germany, because German museums are normally funded by the state. The museum met some opposition from state-owned museums, who considered possibly "suspect" a private museum and concerned that the museum could be used as an argument to question public funding to museums in general.  Nevertheless, in 2008 and 2012 the DDR Museum was nominated for the European Museum of the Year Award. According to the statistics of the Institute for Museum Research and the Berlin Senate Chancellery, it is one of the most visited museums and memorials in Berlin with 504,564 visitors. It has also been ranked 44th in the survey of the German National Tourist Board (GNTB) in 2015 by international guests and in 2016 ranked 36th among the top 100 destinations.

The museum covers the areas of "State Border of the GDR", Berlin, Transport, Wall, Stasi, Consumption, GDR Products, Diet, Building, Living, Partnership, Family, Equality, Private Niche, Media, Literature, Education, Childhood, Youth, Labour, fashion, culture, leisure, music, holiday, health, army, opposition, party, state, Ministry of State Security, ideology, fraternities, DDR opposition, penitentiary, economy, environment and authority. In contrast to other museums, a large part of the exhibits can be touched at this exhibition: one can sit down in a wardrobe, rummage through the cabinets in the cabinets, or try out clothing pieces from the wardrobe with a digital mirror.  In general, the exhibition does not focus on the individual exhibits, but rather on the scenic composition of the exhibits. Each panel construction contains a different thematic area, in each individual are numerous drawer doors, doors, windows or media. Behind these elements are the exhibits and information. In addition to the prefabricated buildings, there is also a trabant to be used with driving simulation, a cinema and a WBS 70-Plattenbauwohnung. The whole exhibition is interactive. From October 2010 the exhibition was also an experience restaurant, in which the visitors could also experience the typical GDR cooking. This was closed as of March 31, 2015, since the rooms were rebuilt for an expansion of the exhibition, which was opened in August 2016.
Student getting the treatment in the DDR Verhörzelle and inside a replica of a Stasi cell

Among the donations from foreign visitors can be seen Canadian Tire money.

Typische DDR Gefängniszelle

The site of the wall on Zimmerstraße/Wilhelmstraße with Markthalle III behind me. Berlin, 1976 Dismantling of the concrete slab wall and erection of border wall 75 on WilhelmstrasseIn 1976, in the area of Zimmerstrasse, between Niederkirchner Strasse and Friedrichstrasse, work began on removing the remains of the old border wall made of concrete slabs and building the new border wall 75 from precast concrete parts. In place of the old wall, a 400-meter-long mobile safety fence will be erected temporarily, reducing the distance to the residential buildings to a width of 1.50 to 2 meters. A border soldier guards the area between the fence and the border wall.


Standing beside the large bronze statue of Lenin created by the Russian sculptor Matvey G. Manizer in 1925. It was erected about 20 miles south of Leningrad in Tsarskoye Selo, now renamed Pushkin, which had once served as the Tsar’s summer residence. During the Second World War the Germans Wehrmacht took Pushkin, dismantling the statue in 1943 and transporting it to Eisleben. There, in the “Krughütte” smelting works, the statue was to be melted down and used as urgently needed metal for war production. The statue survived the war for reasons that remain uncertain, probably because it was simply too large for the smelting furnace. Later in the German Democratic Republic, the statue’s survival became the stuff of legend, spun for political ends: It was said that Soviet forced labourers and ‘class-conscious’ workers at Mansfeld AG had “spontaneously come together” and saved the statue by hiding it under a scrap heap. When the Red Army entered Eisleben in 1945, the townspeople were then said to have raised the statue of Lenin “as a sign of gratitude for liberation from Hitler’s yoke by the glorious Red Army”, as was written in an official GDR brochure. Greeted by their revolutionary hero and a cheering populace, the soldiers of the Red Army were said to have marched triumphantly into Eisleben while inhabitants greeted them with flowers.The reality was surely otherwise when the occupying troops in Eisleben, initially the US Army, ceded the territory to the Red Army, around two months after the end of the war. The city did in fact raise the statue on the market square to greet the Soviet soldiers on July 2, 1945. Yet it seems the soldiers greeted Comrade Lenin with complete indifference, and the triumphant march, the cheering townspeople of Eisleben and the colourful flowers are also figments of the socialist imagination. In spite of all this, the Soviet Union was sufficiently moved by the raising of the statue that it made a gift of the statue to Lutherstadt Eisleben in an official ceremony on May Day 1948, with Walter Ulbricht in attendance, who went on to become First Secretary of the ruling Communist Party. The sculpture thus became the first monumental statue of Lenin in Germany.

The three-metre high Lenin relief on the Behrenstrasse side of the embassy was recently removed in February 2011 when the complex's swimming pool was completely renovated. This came after Gerlin journalist Gunnar Schupelius complained in 2008 that “Lenin went down in history as one of the greatest criminals of mankind. And the Russian embassy is not taking its picture off? This is scary to me. I would rather avoid Behrenstrasse in the future.” Here I am nine years later to see the facade of the building entirely cleaned up. This was the last of the giant likenesses of Lenin to be removed in Berlin having earlier been removed from the entrance to the Russian House on Friedrichstrasse, Leninallee and as a colossal statue made of red granite on Leninplatz, now renamed United Nations Square, although his relief can still be seen at the Soviet memorial at Treptower. Incidentally, it was near this site on the afternoon of May 7, 1866 that Ferdinand Cohen-Blind shot Bismarck twice from behind after the latter had just reported to King Wilhelm and was walking home. Bismarck spun around and grabbed his attacker, who was able to fire three more shots before soldiers from the 1st Battalion of the 2nd Guards rushed up and took him into custody. Bismarck continued on his way home. Later that night, he allowed the King's physician, Gustav von Lauer, to examine him. Lauer noted that the first three bullets had only grazed Bismarck's body and the last two had ricocheted off the ribs and had caused no major injuries. Some sources claim that Bismarck was saved because he had worn a bulletproof vest.