The young filmmaker tries to cross back from East to West Berlin with forbidden goods


(Part of the novel Friends & Enemies included in a different form in published version)

I reached the Friedrichstrasse crossing point just before midnight.

I was well-oiled with cheap East Berlin beer and schnapps, but not drunk. My friend Lothar – DDR museum worker, passive dissident and surface conformist – had given me something, though he had not said what, to take across to West Berlin and I had to be on my guard.

There was no queue.

The guard checked my battered blue British passport with its imperious request to allow the bearer to proceed without let or hindrance and stamped an empty page. I returned it to my coat, donated my unspent East Marks to the orphaned children of North Vietnam and walked towards the remotely controlled doors that accessed the S-Bahn trains to West Berlin.

But they did not open and, as I stood waiting for them to do so, a voice behind me shouted: “You! Come back!” And then more than one voice, “Zurueck, bitte! Zurueck!”

I turned and saw two guards approaching. They asked me to remove my coat – an old trench coat loaned to me by Lothar to ward off the late November snow that had started falling as I left his flat, and, presumably, to hide the goods, which, Lothar had said, it was better I know nothing about.


The older guard took the coat, while the other, a rotund youth with acne, led me back across the hallway to a room beside the passport desk.

“Please sit!” he said, indicating a chair in front of a scuffed, Formica-topped table.

I sat and surveyed the cream coloured walls stained with nicotine and, in my imagination, the faded blood of previous detainees.

After a minute or two, another guard entered. He was tall, blonde-haired and judging from the insignia on his uniform, an officer.

He stood for a moment and then perched on the edge of the table opposite my chair

“Good evening!’ he said in perfect English.

“Good evening,” I replied, disconcerted by the fact that my first line of defence – ‘I don’t speak German’ – had been undermined.

“As you were walking way,” the officer continued, “my guards noticed something moving in the back of your coat.”


“Yes. I think you know what I mean.”

“I have no idea,” I said, shaking my head.

“Then,” snapped the officer, unrolling a sheet of card in his hand, “what is this?”

I stared in amazement at the image in front of him: Lothar’s favourite collage; the one that had hung on the wall above his bed in the Prenzlauerberg apartment – a gem of humorous subversion and light-hearted satire.

I rubbed my eyes and shook my head, feigning ignorance and innocence.

“Never seen it before.” I paused and tried a polite English smile. “Not bad. Where did you find it?”

“In the lining of the coat,” snapped the officer, unimpressed by the smile or my misplaced flattery of a subversive piece of art. “Are you telling me, you did not know it was there?”

“No idea,” I said, dropping the smile but upping the level of Michael Caine nonchalance in my voice.

“I find that hard to believe. Where did you get it? ”

I thought fast.

I must not involve Lothar, if I did he would lose his job at the museum and most probably be charged with subversion.

“At a shop,” I said, improvising a beginning without middle or end in sight.

“You bought this picture, this piece of counter-revolutionary propaganda in a shop? I don’t think so. No one would want to sell you something like that.”

“Not the collage, the jacket.”

“And the picture was inside it?”


“Without your knowledge?”


The officer stared at the image and then at me.

Sweat formed on my forehead, perhaps from the heat, perhaps – in the interrogator’s eyes – from the effort of lying.

“And where was this shop?”

“In the centre… near the television tower.”

“There are many shops near the television tower. Which one?”

The officer stood up and paced around the room. The youth with acne left and I felt panic pinch the pit of my stomach and tighten the edges of my brain. Could they arrest me? Hold me indefinitely? There were no official diplomatic relations between the GDR and Britain, artists on the DAAD programme had been reminded of this in a circular from the British Council: ‘All visits to East Berlin undertaken at own risk.’

My heart palpitated, the sweating intensified.

“I can’t remember.”

“Convenient,” laughed the officer, going to the door. “Well, I have time. So please, over the next five minutes, try and improve your memory!”

He left the room.

I stared at the picture on the table and despite the feeling of anxiety chuckled.

The collage showed Karl Marx and Lothar – both bearded, both middle-aged – sitting at a table for two in an East Berlin bar drinking People’s beer with People’s schnapps chasers. On the wall above, portraits of Lenin, Stalin and the DDR’s first leader, Walter Ulbricht, stared down in stony silence and obvious disapproval. Beside them a blank fourth canvas indicated where Mr Marx should have been if he had not been having such a good time with the hoi polloi below: imprisoned in a frame, a grey-bearded, graven image painted to look as stern and impassive as the three successors who had co-opted and corrupted his name.

The door opened and the youth with acne entered, a cup of coffee in his hand.

“Thought you could use this,” he said.

Nice cop, hard cop routine, I thought, but the youth did not stay.

I took a sip of the hot but tasteless liquid and tried to think through the shop story.

But I didn’t know any clothes shops near the television tower.


My brain misted over and before I knew it, before I could step on the brake of adult self-control, I started crying. Crying like a small child who has lost its mother and doesn’t know how to get home. No, not crying – wailing.

The door swung open and the officer stood on the threshold.

“What is the matter, Mr Cruft?” he demanded.

I shook my head and continued to wail.

“Have we treated you so badly?”

Again I shook my head.

“Then where is your famous stiff upper lip?”

I shook my head for a third time.

The officer turned on his heels, slammed the door shut and disappeared.

I continued to bawl.

The exhaustion of a hard night’s drinking with Lothar, the long walk in the cold night air from Prenzlauerberg to Friedrichstrasse, persistent worries about my new film in West Berlin, and my girlfriend’s sudden defection to a Maoist had all combined to reduce me to an infantile state of self pity and despair.

If I could have got up and danced, if I could have shaken a leg, waved my arms and screamed ‘Star Fucker!” with Mick Jagger then dropped dead-tired into bed, the hopelessness I now felt might have sweated itself out and been flattened by the overriding need to sleep. But here I could not sleep and I could not dance, so I howled. The officer had been right: where was it – that symbol of British sangfroid and cold civility? Gone with the wind, gone to a graveyard every last bit of it. When will they ever learn? Boys cry too. They do. They do.

“Mr Cruft?”

I looked up and through my tears saw a man in a suit with a pair of horn-rimmed spectacles perched on his nose.

“Mr Cruft,” said the man in a soft, heavily accented voice. “We are sorry you are so upset. On January 1st, 1974 – tomorrow as we speak – a new Four Power Agreement comes into effect regulating all matters related to Berlin. We hope this agreement will improve understanding between East and West and in the light of its imminent enactment and your obvious distress we have decided to overlook this unfortunate incident.”

He pointed to the collage on the table and without further comment tore it into little pieces and threw the resulting remnants into a waste paper basket beneath the table.

“You are free to go. Auf wiedersehen!”

The destruction of Lothar’s work led to a new bout of tears from me, but this time the guards were ready. They lifted me from my chair and walked me out of the room and across the hallway to the automatic doors where the youth with acne held out Lothar’s trench coat.

“Expect you could use this,” he half-whispered, a pimply smile on his round face.

I took the coat, but before I could say thank you the door released and the guards deposited me on the far side: somebody else’s baby, a wimp for the West to whip into order.

And by the time I had rattled over the wall past the burnt out ruins of the Reichstag and the floodlit modernism of the Academie der Kuenste to Zoo station – staring into the neon-lit night sky from my empty S-Bahn like a dropout on Valium or a hippie on lysergic acid – I had recovered. Thin skin healed over, emotions in custody, British upper lip stiff as a military crease. And when, after leaving the train and braving the snow covered streets, two West Berlin policemen stopped me near the Tiergarten, asked me for my passport and searched me – out of boredom or on the off chance of finding a red terrorist from the Baader Meinhof gang – I accepted the intervention as meekly as a lamb and as quietly as a mouse.

Governments were always obsessed with something, always on guard against subversion, always under threat. In East or West, there were always enemies, enemies within, enemies without; the skill of a good citizen lay in reading between the lines and recognising friends.


The young filmmaker shoots an experimental  film in a West Berlin commune, but proceedings are disrupted by a surprise, anti-formalist demonstration. 

Image - Still from subtitled version of Inside and Oustide

(Part of the novel Friends & Enemies included in a different form in published version. Though events described are partly fictional, a version of the film Drinnen und Draussen exists and is included as an extra on the BFI boxset An Unflinching Eye)

On the 30th December 1973, snow fell. I stood at the window of the commune’s front room in the Stephanstrasse, Moabit, West Berlin and sighed with relief as – despite the cold – a crowd began to form. I had finished editing my window film, Kniephofstrasse, and was now shooting a project using two performers, a pianist and people on the street. Scripted action was located inside, unscripted on the pavement outside where passers-by would, I hoped, stop and watch the actors in the same way that an audience watched them on screen.

“Ready to go in five,” I said turning from the window to Franz Schmidt, the Academy technician now acting as my cameraman.

The DAAD, my bursary benefactor in Berlin, had designated the German Film Academy (DFFB) as my support base, but since my visit there in September to show my early work and talk about Structuralism, the students – Maoists to a man and in line with their Helmsman as anti avant-garde as ever – had voted to withhold assistance from my ‘elitist’ projects. They said I should make agitprop documentaries using conventional cinematic language, not muddle the masses with experimental pieces about how they were being manipulated by Hollywood. Franz had ignored them and persuaded Brigitte, the academy secretary, to act as production manager and a colleague from SFB to sound record. The actors were participating free of charge and Edith from the commune was doing art direction. The other communards, including my friend Reinhardt, were away.

“Director!” the actress called to me. “How real do you want this kiss?” 

The high point of the film, and the scene we were about to shoot, involved the two performers kissing each other to the accompaniment of a Mozart slow movement played live by the on-set pianist. Given the crowd outside, I had decided not to do any prior rehearsal, but allow the action to develop of its own accord.

“How real can you make it?” I replied, walking over to a tall, blonde-haired woman in a beige blouse, three-quarter length brown skirt and sensible shoes.

“That depends on Wolfgang,” whispered Ulrike, nodding her head in the direction of the male actor. “And on what you want. You’re the director.”

“I want a real movie kiss that moves the viewer to tears,” I replied. “Bacall and Bogart; Leigh and Gable; Crawford and that violin player in Humoresque.”

“John Garfield,” exhaled Ulrike, rotating a shoulder to relax her diaphragm. “I will be Dietrich. Distant but determined, detached but passionate – ice and fire rolled into one.”

“Good! Shall I warn Wolfgang?”

“No, let him be surprised. I take the initiative, no?”

“Yes, Mrs East kisses Mr West. But make sure your lips come together slowly – in the classic Hollywood manner. I want maximum pre-touch tension.”

Jawohl, Herr Regisseur.” 

I crossed the room to Wolfgang, a man of twenty-six with Cary Grant features.

“All set, Wolfgang?”

Wolfgang glanced at the crowd outside.

“It will be difficult in front of them.”

“Imagine you’re on stage,” I soothed.

“I can’t see the faces on stage.”

Wolfgang had been harder for me to deal with than Ulrike. He worried that the characters had no personality, that they were cardboard cutouts without motivation or emotions.

“Why are we kissing?” he asked now.

I glanced at my notes.

“‘To signify the similarity of social codes in East and West; to cement – seal with a kiss – two systems that, despite surface differences, seduce and cajole their citizens into obedience and passivity; to emphasise the common bond of bourgeois family values and traditional role-playing prevalent in consumer capitalist and state socialist countries.’”

Wolfgang raised his eyebrows.

“Doesn’t help much.”

“Follow Ulrike’s lead,” I coaxed, giving him a pat on the shoulder. “And relax! Imagine it’s your first kiss, the first time a woman’s lips have touched yours.”

“Ready to go in one,” Franz shouted, as he switched on a two-kilowatt light and bathed Wolfgang in a golden glow.

I crossed to the camera and squinted through the eyepiece. The frame was set just as I had requested: Wolfgang in chair, centre left; Ulrike at doorway, far right; pianist at piano in the room behind; fifty odd faces pressed to the window in the background. Perfect! I made my way between Franz and the soundman and plopped down on my haunches beside Theo the piano player – a tall, sixty-year old Prussian junker’s son with tufts of grey hair and a twinkle in his eye that put him somewhere between Einstein and Harpo Marx.

“Give it all you’ve got, Theo. Elvira Madigan and then some”

Theo nodded.

“All set!” shouted Franz.

“Right!” I called, returning to my position by the camera. “Let’s go for one!”

I put a finger to my lips to quieten the crowd, waited for the boom to steady above Ulrike’s head and then raised my hand.

“Roll sound!’

“Sound rolling!’

“Roll camera!’

“Camera rolling!’

“Scene ten, take one,” Edith called, clapping the board and ducking out of view.

I let her settle and glanced at my leading lady. She gave a nod and my hand fell.


Ulrike dusted. Wolfgang opened a beer and sat back to watch the woman at work. Ulrike turned and their eyes met. A moment’s pause, then Theo sounded the opening arpeggios of the Mozart – gently, seductively. As the melody developed, Ulrike sidled across to the table where Wolfgang sat. The crowd behind the window held its breath. 

“May I, schaetzchen?” Ulrike whispered.

Wolfgang patted his knee. Ulrike lowered herself onto his lap. The melody swelled, chords cascaded towards the dominant. Ulrike’s face approached Wolfgang’s. The 10-120 Angenieux Telephoto eased inwards. And, finally – as the melody hit high C, the chord modulated to the tonic and Franz reached the limit of his lens’ prying capacity – the two sets of lips met and the crowd let out an enormous cheer.

“Bravo!” “Long Live Love!” “Brilliant!” “More!” “Encore!”

Staring eyes streamed tears or twinkled with the titillation of an erotic act at one remove; children giggled or buried their faces in parental legs. A collective release beyond my expectations and, as the final chord faded, I experienced the moment in triplicate – as a future cinemagoer on the camera’s side, as a participant centre stage and as part of the crowd beyond. Quadraphonic emotion bouncing back and forth and melding in the middle; feel, touch, weep and wallow – the essence of a movie’s manipulative power exposed, exactly as I had intended!

Then trouble started.

Chanting on the far side of the street and banners waved above the crowd’s head: ‘Reflect workers’ struggles – NO art for art’s sake!’ ‘Down with dilettantism and the DAAD!’

The Academy Maoists had arrived. Not content with boycotting the film’s shoot, they had now decided to disrupt it. Shit! Franz, still zoomed in, remained unaware of the disturbance and awaited my signal to cut. I hesitated. The banners and placards advanced, the crowd parted to let them through, the front row turned to check the action behind.

I reviewed my options at stop-frame speed and then tapped Franz on the shoulder.

“Don’t cut! Pull out! Smooth and fast!”

Franz nodded and signalled to the soundman to raise his boom. Ulrike and Wolfgang broke their kiss and turned to the window.

“Keep staring out!” I hissed. “Don’t look at me!”

The crowd, disconcerted by the Maoist presence, began to drift away. The demonstrators lined up along the window, placards and banners pressed to the glass. The chanting began in earnest:

Imperialism is what we hate, make films workers can appreciate.”

“Theo, open the door!” I shouted at the pianist

Theo’s willowy, aristocratic figure stood up bowed and then opened the door to face the revolutionaries’ wrath. The volume of the demonstrators increased, their gestures grew fiercer. I tensed. Would the mob enter? Rip the film from our camera and beat me – the errant formalist and recipient of imperialist DAAD funds – up? Or demonstrate at a distance and provide a backdrop against which we could continue to film?

A new chant began:

Stop this dilettante crap, leave Berlin and don’t come back!”

Theo retreated to the piano and struck up Mozart’s Marche a la Turque. Ulrike and Wolfgang glanced at each other – too professional to turn and scream ‘Help!’ at the camera, too nervous to outstare the thirty or so demonstrators.

 “Go to the door,” I hissed, deciding to up the dramatic ante. “Invite them in.”

 “What?” retorted Wolfgang without moving his lips. “You must be joking.”

“Please,” I persisted. “They’re not dangerous, just deluded.”

 “Come on,” said Ulrike, pulling at Wolfgang’s arm.

 Wolfgang stayed put. Ulrike headed to the door. She listened to the chants and then leant across and planted a kiss on the cheek of the nearest demonstrator.

 “Please,” she smiled, “come in and discuss with us.”

 The man continued to chant. Ulrike stepped outside and, squeezing along the front row, repeated kiss and invitation to each of the demonstrators. She then turned to the window, shook her fist and joined in the chanting:

 “Imperialism is what we hate, make films workers can appreciate!”

 “Stop this dilettante crap, leave Berlin and don’t come back!”

I watched. Perhaps this was the ending I needed. Mrs East joins Maoists in condemnation of decadent art, while Mr West looks on with disdain and the stoicism of repressive tolerance.

Theo completed his march. I prepared to call ‘Cut!’

But just then, sirens sounded. The Maoists glanced from left to right. Ulrike hurried along the frontline, re-entered the commune and closed the door.

“Darling,” she said to Wolfgang. “The police are here.”

A megaphone became audible. The Maoist leader scowled at me, assuming I had called the police. I indicated my innocence with a shrug of the shoulders, pointed at the door and invited the demonstrators to use it. This time there was no hesitation and the nearest man ran in followed by thirty colleagues. Edith guided them through to the courtyard, whilst I shouted at them not to look at the lens – I wanted orchestrated drama now, not fly on the wall documentation. 

When the last one had passed through, a policeman appeared, baton drawn.

“Can we proceed?” he asked, raising his visor and wiping sweat from his face.

“Proceed with what?” inquired Ulrike from her position at the table – a born improviser I thought to myself, a performer cool under fire when the curtain fails to fall.

“With the arrest of the people disturbing you,” the policeman panted. “We were called by a neighbour.”

Ulrike bent and whispered something to Wolfgang, who nodded and stood up.

“These people are our friends,” he said, “their presence here is intentional.”

The policeman glanced at the microphone and pointed to the hallway.

 “You’ll be all right, then?”

 “Yes,” replied Ulrike and Wolfgang together. “Thank you.”

The policeman shrugged his shoulders, mumbled something into a radio and retreated.

“Cut!” I shouted, when he had closed the outside door and disappeared. “That’s a wrap!’

“About bloody time too!” Wolfgang exclaimed.

“I enjoyed it,” said Ulrike. “Let’s do another take!’

I hugged them both.

“Brilliant! All of you,” I added, turning to the crew. “Fucking brilliant.”

Franz stood up and stretched.

“One meter of film left!” he whistled. “But we got it. The whole thing.”

“Brilliant,” I repeated. “Fucking brilliant!’

Edith appeared and announced that the Maoists were now assembled in the courtyard.

“I told them we had to lock the doors to stop the police getting in,” she grinned.

“Are they chanting again?” I asked.

“No, quiet as mice. What shall we do with the bastards?”

I shrugged my shoulders.

“Let them go, I guess.”

“No punishment?’ Edith pouted. “No hosing naked bodies with cold water?”

I laughed and turned to Franz.

“What do you think, Franz?”

Franz did not reply. He sat unloading the camera’s magazine, his hands moving inside a black changing bag, his forehead furrowed in concentration. When he had transferred the exposed film to an empty can and taped it up to ensure no light could get in, he removed his arms and unzipped the bag.

“A ten minute single take,” he said holding up the can. “Brigitte!”

Brigitte took the can and went to the table to fill in a lab report sheet.

“And the Maoists?” inquired Edith.

“I’ll talk to them later,” replied Franz. “Their action is most unprofessional.”

I sat on the floor, leant back against a wall and glanced outside. Snow falling again; flakes drifting down past street lights, their fluorescent lamps triggered by encroaching darkness: winter in Berlin, Berlin in winter. The filming had gone better than expected – the final scene a vindication of my original idea, the comments on the Maoists banners a neat example of self-reflectivity. And later tonight, a wrap party to reward the team: raucous reminiscences of the shoot’s ups and downs; food, alcohol and wild dancing to the Stones and Lokomotive Kreuzberg. I felt exhausted, but ready to enjoy myself – to be the life and soul of the party, my last duty as director.


The young film maker joins illegal and violent demonstration in West Berlin to protest at death of Red Army Fraction (Baader Meinhof) member Holger Meins

Berlin (West) Demo image 2

(Part of an early draft of novel Friends & Enemies not included in published version)

After a year in Berlin, I had reached some sort of alternative Cloud Nine. I had friends in the West and friends in the East and when I stood in the control hut at Checkpoint Charlie with East German guards staring at me and my passport – back and forth, up and down – I felt a heightened sense of being somewhere, of being someone, of being here and being now.

And it wasn’t just the Wall. In Berlin, I had, at last, came across like-minded people; people, with a serious approach to life, trying to understand how they fitted – or had been fitted – into society and how they could break out. In autumn 1974, West Berlin was a place for discussion and practice of everything from revolution to relationships and communal living to open sexuality: ‘Need for tenderness’, ‘Compul­sion to orgasm’, ‘Whole body relating’, ‘An end to genital fixation’ – the list was end­less and, in many ways, far ahead of its time. Everyone, women and men, felt oppressed by the sexist adverts on the hoardings and in the U-Bahn; everyone accepted that things would have to change, inside and out. Marx had met Freud and women had stated their case; the notion of simple futures where wives would nurture hard working husbands had been blown away. The uphill climb by me, the lone male mountaineer with an over-sensitive take on gender and life in general had become a communal caravan across the desert of capitalism. Now people saw where they were going, helped each other on the way and did not doubt they would get there in the end.

Some, of course, wanted to take a short cut – Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof sat in cells in Stammheim, condemned for blasting their way through the sand – but I did not support violence and saw it as a form of capitulation to the psychotic ways of the ruling class. I had, however, demonstrated against the prison conditions of Holger Meins, another member of the Red Army Fraction. He was not in Stammheim, but in Moabit jail in West Berlin where he had gone on hunger strike in protest at his solitary confinement. He had not eaten for three months, the authorities refused to transfer him to a hospital and his death was expec­ted soon.

It finally came on November 10th, a grey and unpromising day. I was reading a book on semiotics in my room at the back of the commune, when the news broke. The door burst open and Gisela bounced in. She was a round woman with red cheeks and a permanent air of enthusiasm. Along with my friend Dieter, she was the founder of the commune where I lived and had roped me into her Sponti political movement after a Sunday seminar on undogmatic Marxism a few weeks earlier.

“Come on, Joe! We’re meeting at Turm­strasse and marching down to the prison.”

“What? Why?”

“Haven’t you heard?” Gisela’s eyes gleamed as she warmed her hands on the tiles of a brown coal oven. “Holger Meins is de­ad.”


“Last night. They only let the news out this morning. The Senate’s banned marches so we’re keeping the meeting place secret, spreading it by word of mouth. I’m to tell sympathisers round here. Will you help?”

“Of course.”

We ran through courtyards, climbed staircases and left notes informing people where to go. We hammered on doors, cajoled and persuaded, and, at our last port of call, dug out Stefan, the lover of Gisela’s best friend Hanna and a man more into movies than Marx.

By the time we reached Turmstrasse, the demonstrators were forming into rows. I spotted Hanna and waved. She ran over and gave me a hug.

“My favouri­te Englishman!” she cried.

Then she saw Stefan attempting to hide behind Gisela.

“You’ve come? You told me you were ill?”

Stefan shrugged his shoulders.

“You told me you couldn’t get off work and you’re here.”

“That’s because I was speaking from the teachers’ common room.”

Gisela pushed her way between the lovers and linked arms with them both.

“Come on, you two. No arguments today. All right?”

A police bus – light flashing, siren wailing – screeched past the demonstrators and pulled across the road. Riot police jumped out and positioned themselves in front of the first row. The way to the prison was blocked.

“Someone must have informed,” said Hanna, taking hold of my right arm.

A loud-hailer declared the demonstration illegal and ordered all participants to disperse. A group at the back began shouting. Somebody threw a bottle.

“RAF,” said a voice to my left. “They provoke on principle.”

I turned and found a tall man with blonde hair standing next to me.

“Your first demonstration?” the man asked as he linked arms.

“Oh no,” I replied.

“But the first with action, yes?”

“Well,” I said, ducking as another bottle smashed in front of the police, “I was nearly in Grosvenor Square in ’68.”

The man laughed.

“Nearly in Grosvenor Square in ’68. I like it. English humour, no?”

“Yes. Yes.”

I laughed, too.

The police gave a second warning and said they would charge if the crowd did not disperse. I was in row six. I turned to see how many were behind us and was surprised to find people complying with the order. Row by row the demonstration was dissolving.

“We’re not moving,” hissed Hanna to the tall man. “Right, Manfred?”

But someone had tapped Manfred on the shoulder.

“New tactic,” a voice whispered. “Pretend to cave in. Regroup at the Ku’dam.”

Manfred passed the message on to me and peeled off.

“Manfred, you shit!” yelled Hanna.

I explained the tactic to her and soon everyone was heading for the Ku’dam – ambling off in twos and threes, pretending to be out for a stroll.

Near the entrance to Tiergarten, Manfred glanced up at the sky.


I followed his gaze and saw helicopters approaching from the south.

“Should we scatter?” asked Stefan hopefully.

“No, we should not,” said Hanna. “Straight on for the Ku’dam!”

“I only asked,” whined her boyfriend.

“If you don’t want to come, don’t,” snapped Hanna. “Go to a stupid film instead.”

“Hanna!” hissed Gisela.

At the junction of Kurfurstendam and Joachimstaler­strasse, demonstrators had already occupied the pavements. Reinforcements were emerging from the U-Bahn and spilling on to the road. A whispering began, like wind in the willows.

“Make a circle. Block the traffic.”

People formed into lines of five and walked round the centre of the junction – one after the other, closely packed, column after column. Motorists hooted. A policeman blew his whistle. But they were powerless to break the human wheel.

My group linked arms and squeezed in behind five Red Army men in crash helmets.

“The state has murdered Holger Meins – Holger, Holger, Holger Meins!”

A white Mercedes tried to push its way through. An RAF man forced open the driver’s door. Manfred pulled him back. The driver reversed away.

“That’s what the authorities want us to do,” said Manfred, rejoining the line. “Beat people up, behave like animals. It doesn’t help our cause. We must win the public’s sympathy.”

I nodded and joined in the chant. I had never felt better, never felt so much. Acting for justice with no self doubts, a rebel with a cause – no dream of what might be, just action now.

“The state has murdered Holger Meins,” I shouted at the top of my voice, “Holger, Holger, Holger Meins!”

Hanna laughed and yelled in my ear:

“Your accent is atrocious.”

Then the sirens began. A chill ran down my spine. Tank-like vehicles clea­red a path through the cars – blue mon­sters with blank faces.

“Water canons,” Manfred shouted.

The line in front stopped. A helmeted man turned and yelled.

“New formation. Rows of twenty across the Ku’dam!”

He indicated that my group should move forward and link arms with his.

“Oh no,” wailed Stefan. “We’re in the front line.”

“That’ll make a change for you,” said Hanna, but her voice sounded nervous too.

The cannons halted behind a phalanx of shield-wielding riot police with visors down. I glanced over my shoulder. Row upon row of demonstrators stretched back towards the ruined shell of the Gedaechtniskirche – faces alert, tense, determined.

Die bullen sind bloed!” yelled a Red Army man.

Police are stupid.

“Don’t provoke,” said Manfred.

“Shit liberal!” the man replied, but stopped his chant.

Night had fallen and a cold wind from the East cut through the seams of my worn sheepskin coat. The advertisements flashed and winked, mocking the protesters with their message of stabi­lity. In Kempinskis, ladies in fur hats sipped coffee and toyed with cakes, faces turned towards the street waiting for the show to start. Press photographers positio­ned themselves near the police, flashguns firing. TV cameras took aim from rooftops or patrolled – tape recorders in tow – up and down no-man’s land. One reporter argued with her direc­tor about where to stand. She wanted to be in front of the demonstrators, the director wanted her with the police. In the end, she and the camera walked around in circles.

Then the space between the front-lines was cleared. A new chant rolled for­ward from the back of the demonstration, picking up momentum and volume as it approached us.

“No repression by the state! We have the right to demonstrate!”

The Red Army men added ‘Holger, Holger, Holger Meins’ and as the chants met they doubled in force and surged across no-man’s land to the waiting police, drowning out an officer calling on the demonstrators to ‘Disperse or face the consequences!’

“This is it,” hissed Manfred.

The police moved forward followed by the water cannons. Slowly. Steadily.

Then they fired.

“Stand firm!” shouted Manfred, as water slammed into his stomach.

I bent to help him but was hit too, a block of ice smashing into my skull.

“Turn your back!” Hanna shouted.

I couldn’t breathe, could­n’t move.

Another jet of water smashed into my groin. The police were only yards away – truncheons high, shields out. The crowd surged forward, pushing me towards the truncheons that now began battering batons on shields in a deafening cacophony of terror.

“Fall back and regroup!” came the command.

I turned and ran. Manfred ran. We all ran. Retreating head over heels in front of the drums, lines disintegrating as the din approached. I glanced back and saw a policeman beat a Red Army man across the back – not once, but on and on and on. A woman was hit between the legs and dumped into a van that moved forward with the canons picking up human refuse as it was clubbed into submission.

My coat felt heavy – soaked through, weighing me down. But I kept on running.

Suddenly a pair of arms grabbed me. I ducked, ready for a blow to the head, the back, the balls. The arms held me, but didn’t abuse me.

I turned. It was Manfred.

“No good running. Police are everywhere. We must regroup.”

I locked arms with Manfred and counted a dozen rows ahead of us – we were no longer in the front line.

I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned. It was Hanna. Her long hair soaked with water, her face blue with cold. She locked arms, too, and huddled close.

“Stefan’s been hit. Gisela’s taken him home.”

“Is he all right?”

“I think so.” She wiped away a tear. “He was trying to stop a pig hitting me.”

“And Gisela?”

“Cut in the face – best for her to go with him.”

With the column reformed, the chan­ting swelled again. We surged forward as one – at a run this time – charging headlong at the state’s protective wall, the words of the chant coming fast and loud.

“No repression by the state! We have the right to demon­strate!”

I kept my eyes on the front line. When it hit the police, it would stop dead.

“No repression by the state! We have the right to demonstrate!”

I concentrated on the words – spitting out each sylla­ble, fighting off the cold.

“No repression by the state! We have the right to demonstrate!”

Shots broke across the chanting. Four rows in front of me, lines scattered as a plume of smoke rose from the ground. More shots and a canister landed by my feet.

“Tear gas! Cover your mouth and nose!”

Manfred thrust a scarf at me. I pressed it to my face, but gas had already reached my lungs. I wretched. I no longer cared what happened, as long as I could stop and lie down. I tried to cover my mouth, but the gas numbed my brain and my hands would not move. I collapsed to the ground coughing.

“Get up!” – Manfred’s voice – “Get up! Head for Zoo Station!”

I struggled to my feet, fighting off nausea, willing myself to move.

All around people coughed and screamed. Beyond the fog, sirens wailed.

“Can you walk?” Hanna yelled.

“I think so,” I replied.

“Good. Keep your face covered and follow us.”

Figures loomed from the shadows clutching scarves to mouths. Red Army men ran past with iron bars, guided by the sound of breaking glass. Onlookers cowered too terrified to move.

One old lady crouching by a kiosk on the corner of Kantstrasse held a cardboard carton over her head with the word ‘Hilfe!’ scrawled on its side. Men in suits, emerging from the peep shows behind her – eyes stained with prurience, expressions blank and empty – ignored her plea, fastened their trousers and ran for safety.

I struggled across the street and took hold of the woman’s hand.

“Where are you headed?” I asked.

“Anywhere,” she stuttered.

“Want to come with us?”

The woman nodded.

Manfred took her other arm and we pressed on.

Baton-wielding policemen appeared from an alley and charged. Manfred pointed at the woman. The police took no notice. Manfred and I hoisted her onto our shoulders and ran as best we could.

The police pursued. A flashgun fired. Aimed at us, I hoped: ‘Demonstrators save granny from police!’

“Ought to be ashamed,” the old lady mut­tered into Joe’s ear.

“Who ought?” I gasped. “The demonstrators?”

“No! The police.”

Near Zoo station, the pursuers were diverted by a fire and gave up. Manfred and I, out of breath from our exertions, lowered the woman to the ground and entered the station. It was packed. Wounded demonstrators lay in rows tended by medical students. Unhar­med protesters huddled in corners discussing tactics. Members of the public wiped eyes and dusted down clothes, unsure what to do next. The station regulars – junkies and unemployed Turkish workers – stood in front of the exchange office too bemused to ask for money. Beyond them a crowd pushed up against the ticket counter, desperate to get home.

Hanna bent down to the woman.

“Where do you live?”

“In the East. Prenzlauer Berg”

“In the East?”   Hanna queried, and then burst out laughing. “You can tell them it’s true then. We are oppressed and brutalised.”

“I know,” said the woman. “I was here in ’68. I always come for the riots.”

I wondered how she could have crossed the wall, and then remembered that pensioners were free to travel back and forth.

“The East – that’s a good idea,” said Manfred, as a group of policeman arrived to block off the entrance to the street. “Let’s go to Friedrichstrasse.”

“Coming too?” I asked the woman.

“No thank you, but I’m grateful for your help.”

I squeezed her hand and ran after Hanna and Manfred.

At the S-Bahn entrance Man­fred ducked under the barrier. Hanna and I followed suit. On the platform most people were heading west, and when a train for Frie­drichstrasse clattered in we were the only ones to board. We collapsed on to the slatted wooden seats and sighed with relief when the doors shut and the train pulled out.

As it rolled through the Tiergarten, we saw blue lights flashing in the trees and a gas cloud hanging low over the Ku’dam Ecke. The cross on the Ge­daechtnis­kirche shone forth, the Mercedes sign winked.

We win, it said. You lose.

Hanna took my hand and squeezed.

“You all right? You were in a bad way back there?”

“A bit cold.”

“A bit cold? Is that all? You English understate everything. Aren’t you exhilarated, terri­fied, exhausted, happy, sad?”

“Yes, that to.”

 Hanna leant across and hugged the sheepskin coat. I put an arm around her and an arm around Manfred and together we rattled past the ruins of the Reichstag, over the Spree and across the wall – today a welcome barrier against the hypocrisy and conflicts of capitalism. When the train reached Friedrichstrasse – with its East German guards on gantries above and kiosks selling duty free goods below – we found a bench and declared it free of East and West. Manfred bought whisky and Swiss chocolate and we sat getting drunk against the cold – happy to be in no man’s land, happy to be alive, happy to wait a little longer for the revolution.

HELLO TO BERLIN, 1973 – Part Five

The young English filmmaker goes East with his East Berlin friend to meet a Goddess of the Steelworks, and very seductive socialist, in the DDR hinterland

Goddess of the Steelworks - off duty

(Part of an early draft of novel Friends & Enemies not included in published version)

Lothar waited beside the sealed up Metro station of Berlin Mitte on the northern side of Checkpoint Charlie – or Grenzuebergang Kochstrasse as his government called it. The sky hung low and cold, and he wore a woollen scarf and fur-lined Russian hat.

Jon the filmmaker, who Dieter had reintroduced to Lothar at the Berliner Ensemble, had, at last, got in touch and agreed to meet up today, Sunday the fifteenth of November. The Englishman, with a visa for travel outside East Berlin, would bring Dieter’s old Mercedes and drive with Lothar to the East German hinterland for an inspection of a steelworks under the guidance of Lothar’s secondary, proletarian lover, Brigade Leader Almuth Wietz.

A car hooted. Lothar glanced towards the checkpoint: a Trabant stalled at the crossroads, guards coming off duty, an American military Jeep asserting – like a child from the wrong side of town – its right to drive in the Russian zone. Not much traffic at three o’clock on a Sunday – too late for tourists wanting to view the Red Threat, too early for Turkish guest workers seeking prostitutes priced in East Marks. The horn sounded again, and this time Lothar saw a figure climb out of a mud-spattered vehicle across from the Metro entrance. The figure wore a scarf, blue jeans and an anorak longer at the back than front. A Westerner, thought Lothar. Lost or wants to sell me his jeans.

He turned back to the checkpoint, hoping to catch a glimpse of Dieter’s Mercedes. He was cold and impatient for the warmth of a comfortable car.


A hand tapped him on the shoulder. Lothar swung round and found himself face to face with the Westerner.

“Yes?” he snapped, preparing to lecture the young man on the importance of clean cars and respectable clothing in a socialist country. “How can I help?”

“It’s me. Jon.”

Lothar put out a hand and pulled down the scarf covering the stranger’s mouth.

“My God,” he said. “So it is. Where’s the car?”

“There,” replied Jon, pointing to the wreck across the road. “The mini-van. The one you found me in on the Berliner Ring.”

“Mini-van?” exclaimed Lothar. “What about the Mercedes?”

“Reinhardt had to go to Karlsruhe. His father’s ill. So…”

“We’re going to Schwedt-an-der-Oder, number one new town of the GDR and the country’s most model of model socialist communities, in that?”

“Afraid so,” laughed Jon. “Not the same as a Merc. But it drives all right.”

Lothar shook his head, straightened his hat and followed Jon. He should not be making a fuss, he knew, but he had looked forward to drawing up at the steelworks in a Mercedes. Looked forward to Almuth’s expression of amazement as he stepped out, held the rear door open and invited her to step inside and feel the luxury of leather seats. She was more of a socialist than him, but would still have been impressed – still have felt her fading sensibility for glamour and the world of the rich and famous touched.

“You all right?” Jon asked, as Lothar attempted to close the passenger door with a piece of string doubling as a handle. “That side’s a bugger to shut.”

Jon leant across and slammed the door, breaking the string in the process.

“Damn! You’ll have to use my side, now.”

“And in an emergency?”

“Not sure,” replied Jon with a grin. “Hope for the best, I guess.”

The car started. They swung left into Kochstrasse, took a right down Unter den Linden and after circling the television tower twice found the road to Schwedt.

“Hopefully, the Vopos won’t stop us”, Lothar remarked in a piqued tone, as they swept through the outer suburbs of North Eastern East Berlin. “I’m not sure they could deal with you, the car and the presence of a leading GDR citizen inside it!”

Jon slowed to let an old lady cross the road and, as he did so, leant over to Lothar.

“Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It’s Super-Gran!”

Lothar’s demeanour of disgruntlement remained in place for a moment and then cracked, as a chuckle broke free from its straitjacket. The Englishman was irresistible and he had remembered his host’s interest in Western comics. A kindred spirit, an anarchist at heart, an oddball artist with a sense of humour. He was also young – Lothar’s junior by twenty years – and his youth infectious, an invigorating tonic for an ageing alcoholic. Why be grumpy? Why carp? Who cared what car they were in? Who bloody cared? Status was stultifying, keeping up appearances a game for mugs and party hacks. Together, Jon and he would have fun and if they frightened a few Vopos in the process, so what? Conformity be damned! Long Live the Marx Brothers!

Lothar leant forward and thumped the dashboard with his fist.

“Or this!” he yelled. “Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It’s Super-van!’

The two men roared with laughter, waved at the old lady, now safely across the road and – on Lothar’s prompting – burst into a dual language version of the Internationale.

By the time they reached Schwedt, it was dark. But Lothar’s spirits were light as a feather, his soul full of a joie de vivre normally associated with drunkenness or that moment where orgasm is in sight and assured, but not yet paid for in prostate pain. As they approached Almuth’s workplace, sparks from the smelter lit up the night sky.

“The heartland of our socialist republic,” exclaimed Lothar, as they drew up at the gates of the People’s Own Steelworks.

Jon climbed out and gazed up at the smelting tower.

“Amazing!’ he cried. “In the West, steelworks are monsters – blots on the landscape. But this…this is beautiful…a Cathedral!”

“Perhaps, because here it is the workers we worship,” Lothar said, putting an arm round his friend’s shoulder.

Jon nodded and the two men stood in silence watching the miracle of molecular fusion forge steel from the stone of iron ore.

“Lothar!” cried a female voice behind them. “Is that you?”

Lothar and Jon turned. A tall, well-built woman in hard-hat, heavy-duty boots and green overalls with a small red star above the left breast was approaching from the gates.

“Almuth!” shouted Lothar, moving to meet the Wagnerian apparition. “Jon, meet the High Priestess of our Workers Cathedral, Brunhilde of the Bronze Smelting Process, Mother Superior of Steel Ingots and Iron bars, the Goddess of…” – Lothar reached Almuth, planted a passionate kiss on her burnished lips and turned back to Jon – “Meet Brigade Leader Comrade Almuth Wietz.” Jon moved forward and shook the outstretched hand.  “Almuth, meet Mr Jon Cruft, our artist from the far off land of Anglo-Saxons.”

“Hello, Jon,” said Almuth, pointing back at the works. “A fine moment to arrive.”

Jon nodded, overcome with admiration for a woman he had only just met and about whom he knew next to nothing – the overalls, the grime, her man’s job.

“Shall we go round the works, now?” she asked. “What do you think, Lothar?”

“Whatever Jon wishes,” replied Lothar. “I’m merely the facilitator of this field trip.”

“Fine, let’s go,” she said, heading back to the gates. “You coming with us, Paul?”

“I’d love to, but as a lowly intellectual, I must at all times and in all places remind myself of how real workers, live, think and drink! I’ll be in the works bar when you return.”

Almuth laughed, took Jon by the arm and led him off through the pearly gates.

Jon enjoyed the tour – not so much for what he saw, but for what he heard. Almuth was no propagandist paid to persuade dignitaries from the third world of the East’s superiority, but a woman who believed in the system. A system, she said, that may not have bought people the wealth of the West, but had ensured there were no fat cats, few criminals and a ruling party which – though not a paragon of virtue in its sometimes paranoid perception of duty – outlawed self-aggrandisement along with the speculators and Mafioso who, in the West, had turned the making of money into a religion of death and destruction. Yes, there were disappointments and frustrations and, as a brigade leader, she knew all about them. Socialism, in her book, should not claim to be able to cleanse the human condition of suffering. Existence, physically and psychologically – getting from birth to death in one piece, as she put it – was tough, regardless of where a government stood on the political spectrum. But helping people live together in moderation and with a common purpose – rather than playing them off against each other for bigger cars and better houses – was feasible and eminently practical. Not everyone had a car, but those who did shared. Not everyone had a television, but those who did allowed others to watch.

Like in the war, suggested Jon, as they watched molten steel flow across the floor into massive moulds and acknowledged the waves of workers overseeing the procedure. Yes, agreed Almuth, in a way. The solidarity that scarcity brings; coming together in a struggle where defeat of the enemy is more important than individual comfort; the sharing of resources and personal good luck for the good of all. Yes, that was socialism.

“But surely,” Jon persisted as they headed to the canteen. “Surely the disaster is past, the war over, the struggle won. You have your republic and now you can reap the rewards.”

“Yes,” said Almuth. “And life is better. But we still have a common enemy – the enemy you in the West, despite the sacrifices of your soldiers, have given into.”

“And that is?” inquired Jon.

“Greed. The wish to have more than your neighbour, the right to have more than your neighbour, the duty to have more than your neighbour. The motor of capitalism.”

Jon stopped and stared back at the glow of the smelter.

Was it that simple?

HELLO TO BERLIN, 1973 – Part One

A young English filmmaker approaches the divided city

(Part of an early draft of novel Friends & Enemies not included in published version)

After two hours, I reached the Berliner Ring, built by Hitler to encompass the expected expansion of the Third Reich’s capital over the next thousand years.

No signs for West Berlin, so I headed on towards the East German capital, Hauptstadt der DDR – East Berlin. Western cars disappeared, East German vehicles increased. Had I missed a turning in the twilight, my progress tolerated because of the military look of my khaki-coloured mini-van? Working for the Warsaw Pact, police had assumed – a Pole returning home, a Russian on R&R. But I wasn’t a Pole or a Russian, I was a British citizen, in a British car and it would soon be night. My British bravado turned to English angst. Should I stop and ask the way, make a U-Turn and head back to Helmstedt or keep going and hope Hitler’s Ring brought me back to the missed exit? My visa stated that there should be no deviation from the transit route, no stopping except at indicated service stations and no communication with military or civilian personnel; ‘in the event of breakdown pull off the road, stay in your car and await assistance’.

“Alright,” I said out loud, as a sign for a picnic spot loomed up in the darkness. “That is what I will do. Pull off the road and wait until somebody comes.”

I turned into the parking area, cut the motor and doused the lights.

In the gloom, I made out wooden tables, an advertising hoarding with no advertisement and a concrete litter bin. I sat in silence and then realised that silence meant no traffic. Perhaps no one stopped here, perhaps West Berlin had been sealed off and declared a no go area with all signs removed to confuse the enemy – perhaps World War Three had started. After all, in 1973, despite Vietnam, Berlin was still number one flashpoint in the Cold War and the Four Power Agreement aimed at regulating access to West Berlin was not due to be signed until next year. I had checked my history books, read my newspapers and done my research but failed to bring a radio. Not out of forgetfulness, but because I felt I should experience history firsthand without any intermediaries. Now I regretted the decision, realising how reliant people had become on radio and television: ‘Here is the news:  death will arrive on a missile from the East (or West) in four minutes. Bang!

I turned to the luggage area. Guitar cases, camera cases, tripods, books and LPs piled high to the roof. One emergency stop and you’ll be headless, my sister had said when waving me off. But I am a budding filmmaker and occasional musician and need the tools of my trades. I pulled a Coke can from a box of film journals. At least I had something to drink – as well as a packet of Smith’s Crisps, a banana and five fruit gums. I’d survive.

I left my car and walked to the litter bin. Empty apart from a cardboard container with a half-eaten Bratwurst inside. Not a popular spot, I deduced, and stepping behind the bin opened my flies and urinated into the undergrowth. My mind fixed on a new film idea: car parks up in picnic area, dusk turns to night, suspense grows in the audience’s mind; sound of owls hooting, footsteps approaching, voices whispering and then… Nothing happens. Nothing happens, for half an hour – or even an hour, if I could afford the film stock. People progress from passive expectation of a story to active awareness of the act of viewing and the intermittent sound effects. Oh, the joys of formalist film-making – no narrative to get snarled up in, just…

Suddenly I jumped – heart palpitating, palms sweating, pupils dilating. Sound of motor mower approaching – no lights, but noise increasing. Not in my imagined film, but in the picnic area where I stood. I zipped up my flies, ran to the van and locked myself in.

A car pulled up. A Trabant. I had read about the two-stroke cars developed when the West walked off with Volkswagen, but never seen one in close up…


I jumped again and – in line with the rigour expected of a formalist film viewer – tried to concentrate on the here and now, on the act of being rather than the fact of being scared. But the here and now of my van in the middle of nowhere was not as conducive to present awareness as the National Film Theatre at a screening of Michael Snow’s Region Centrale.

I closed my eyes and opened them again.

A bearded man in an anorak was banging on my window with one hand and waving a can of Heinz baked beans in the other. More Warhol than Snow, I thought.

Wechseln? Polnische Vodka?’” the man shouted.

Beans for Vodka? I pulled open my window. The man peered in, destroying the viewer/screen dichotomy and involving me in the story.

Ich habe americanische Bohnen. Sie haben polnische Vodka. Wechseln, ja?”

Nein,” I said and reverted to English. “Not Polish. No vodka. British and lost.”

Nicht Polnisch?’ said the man, moving to the rear of the van to examine the number plate and my brand new ‘GB’ sticker.

 “Gross Brittanien!’ he yelled into the night, and then returned to the window and repeated, with emphasis on the first word, “Gross Brittanien. Wie Gross-Deutschland.’

“Not quite the same as ‘Greater Germany’,” I replied, deciding to use German after all. “Hitler’s concept of a Greater Germany was…”

“Like that of your Queen Victoria – Victoria’s Greater Britain, Adolph’s Greater Germany, two of a kind. Only Victoria had more of the world than Adolph. Nicht wahr? And that is why the German people went to war for the Kaiser, lost and voted for Adolph and why I now live in the German Democratic Republic. Wars and tyrannies of the twentieth century have all been caused by greed, ‘Gross-ness’ and the glib tongues of Anglo-Saxons. Nicht wahr?”

A point worth considering I had to admit, for, even if Victoria herself had been more German than British, it was British ministers and British soldiers who built the Empire, colonised half the world’s people’s and settled ‘empty’ lands at the expense of indigenous inhabitants.

“You may be right,” I mumbled, happy to appease a man who – in the land of Bertolt Brecht – seemed more Good Soldier Schweyk than frustrated Fuehrer.

But politics was not the issue.

“No vodka? Maybe cigarettes? Marlboro, Kent, Lucky Strike…?”

I reached into the back of the van and produced a carton of Benson and Hedges bought on the ferry from Dover to Ostende. I removed the packaging and handed over three packs of twenty. The man passed through the baked beans.

“No, please!” I said. “I’m vegetarian” – and then realising my mistake, added – “but don’t eat American beans.”

“I insist,” said the man. “For a friend, if not for you. For Queen Victoria!”

He laughed. I laughed.

“If you’re sure…”

“Of course! But now I depart before the Vopo’s catch me…”


“Volkspolizei – People’s Police. Harmless, but diligent.”

The man darted back to his Trabant. I leant out of the window.

“Can you tell me the way to West Berlin?”

A chuckle in the darkness.

“That is what all corrupt elements in our republic ask. Nicht wahr?”

The mower coughed into life and, for a moment, I thought the man would leave, but instead he reversed his car until the driver’s window stood level with mine.

“West Berlin? Yes, I will show you the way. But remember: gloss in the West, substance in the East. Scratch the surface and you will see.”

“And your name? Perhaps I can look you up?’

“We will meet if we are meant to. Auf wiedersehen!”

The Trabant jolted on to the deserted Ring. I followed and five miles down the road saw a sign with black letters on a yellow background indicating the exit for West Berlin. Easily missed and dwarfed by a sign above it signalling that other Berlin to the East.

I waved and swung off to the right.