Sunday, November 30, 2008


Moving away from Berlin this summer but still traveling back so much has allowed me to be a bit of a tourist in the city where I still officially live. For over a year I'd been meaning to go to the Stasi Museum, just outside the Ring-Bahn in the scary area of Lichtenberg, famed as the neo-Nazi stronghold in Berlin. I headed over there early this afternoon wanting to avoid the witching hour, but the sun sets around 4 PM this time of year in Berlin. It was dark when I left, and very cold but still managing to be damp as well, the kind of cold that chills to the core, particularly when one is already more than amply spooked by the headquarters of one of the most effective state terror apparati in the world.I booked it back to Frankfurter Allee and the capitalist modernity of the Galleria Kaufhaus.

The museum is huge, occupying the old Stasi headquarters, and although much of the exhibits are documents, clippings, and posters in German piled upon more German, they've preserved one entire floor as it was during the last Stasi boss (the photo of Erich Mielke's office above comes from the museum website). That and the exhibits of the "latest" in East German spy technology are simply priceless; these include cameras hidden in, I kid you not, a watering can! And a hollow log with strategically drilled holes! It's just too campy to miss; I highly recommend it.

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