I have often marvelled at the number of memorials that fill the streets of Berlin. Alongside the many monuments, museums and preserved ruins there are countless other intimate mementos of the past. Brass plates attached to cobblestones set into the pavement mark the sites where Jews and others were rounded up by the Nazis. Plaques commemorate the places where historic buildings were destroyed by bombs, and crosses mark the spots where people died trying to flee communism by clambering over the Berlin Wall. Every street is so steeped in the events of the world wars and the Cold War that it sometimes seems you could take any one of them at random and construct a microhistory of 20th-century Germany.
This is precisely what Pascale Hugues, a French journalist and longtime resident of the city, has tried to do. Hugues first moved there more than twenty-five years ago, just after the Berlin Wall had come down. She took up residence in a shabby, down-at-heel street in Schöneberg and immediately