Photographs Brian Rose

Potsdamer Platz, Berlin, 1990

At Potsdamer Platz there was an odd, obviously unofficial, exhibition dealing with The Wall. A stretch of the inner wall--always kept meticulously clean by the East Germans--was decorated with graffiti of a poor and self-conscious type, and fake anti-tank barriers were scattered around. Across from this weird display was a large circus tent and blinking neon sign standing just in front of the location of the Hitler bunker where the Führer spent his last days before committing suicide.

I then walked to the Brandenburg Gate, which is under renovation, and down Under den Linden to the Freidrichstrasse Bahnhof, once the location of the main checkpoint into and out of East Berlin. The large glass building, known as the Palace of Tears, with its tiny, mirrored compartments where I, several times, had been taken aside and scrutinized by blank-faced Vopos before being allowed in or out of the GDR, was abandoned. I then walked by the U.S. consulate, still there with its kitschy scenes of American life in glass cases out in front.

Gartenstrasse, Berlin, 1990

According to today's paper: Yesterday, a Russian soldier stationed in Potsdam commandeered a tank and drove it into West Berlin down the Ku'damm. He damaged several cars in the process and was pursued by numerous police and Russian military vehicles. He was finally stopped when one of his pursuers jumped on the tank and threw a coat over the driver's opening preventing him from seeing. Apparently, an argument between the soldier and his girlfriend had precipitated the escapade.

Nordbahnhof, Berlin, 1990

Bernauer Strasse, Berlin, 1990

Bernauer Strasse, Berlin, 1990

Zimmerstrasse, Berlin, 1990

Behind the Axel Springer publishing building on some buildings across the no man,s land were various advertising billboards. One was a cigarette ad saying "Come Together" with a white and black person's smiling faces. Next to that was a political poster for the PDS, the successor to the SED, the old communist party of East Germany. In the ad, a sassy, very modern young woman sticks her tongue out in joyful exuberance. The slogan says "Left is Alive." Nearby, graffiti on the wall reads "Keine Stasi Amnesty" (no amnesty for the Stasi, the former secret police)—once controlled, of course, by the SED--now transformed into the joie de vivre PDS.

Berlin, 1996


Walking along a stretch of Wall in Kreuzberg, workmen were removing a guard tower nearby, and a toppled one I had seen earlier was no longer there. Everything is vanishing almost before my eyes. I walked on and passed another guard tower still standing--the one that Hans Haacke, a former art teacher of mine, had festooned with a glowing neon Mercedes-Benz star. Dismantled now. An old man walking his dog looked at me with my camera and wondered aloud why I was taking photographs when The Wall isn't there any more.



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