I came late to the Berlin Wall. My first impressions were of its dreadful ugliness, something that whole stretches of graffiti in the style of Roy Liechtenstein did little to alleviate. My last memory of the Wall was on New Year’s Eve 1989. In the Tiergarten groups of men with chisels were chipping away at it, so that gaps had begun to appear between the concrete slabs. One wag had set fire to a stretch, but his fun was cut short by the arrival of a West German squad-car. There was a huge drunken gathering under the Brandenburg Gate. In the early hours of the morning the ‘Vopos’ – the East German police – pushed us all back over the West German border. The Wall might have been pierced on 9 November, but the GDR would limp on until October 1990; and besides, the party was over.
The GDR was created in 1949 in response to the Federal Republic set up by the Western allies in the American, British and French zones of occupation. The Allies refused to recognise the Soviet-sponsored state in their zone and many of its citizens longed to make a break for the