Frankfurter Allee

We take the S42 counter clockwise to Frankfurter Allee station. When one leaves the Frankfurter Allee U-Bahnhof and turns down the picturesque alley to Frankfurter Allee, with its flower shops and Imbisses hidden in the arcades, the mobile Imbiss at the corner and the foreign bouquet sellers under the U-Bahn tunnel, one may find it easier to believe wandering down the hillside alleys of a Mediterranean town, than so far up north as Berlin, above all former communist Berlin. It is hard to find my way instinctively when I am around for the first place, and we punctually turn the wrong way of where we ought to be heading.

At Jessner Straße I realize my mistake, so we dutifully return to the U-Bahnhof again. After making sure we are now walking right, by coordinating our direction from the city map at the Information board, we walk underneath the rail tunnel toward the typical communist white building blocks before us, past Möllendorfstraße at the right of the Frankfurter Allee. We finally find the Ruschestraße, at which the former building complex of the National Security organization of the Stasi was located. Now the Deutsche Bahn occupies the offices, and it is easy not to recognize the building as the headquarters of a so much hated of an organization like the Stasi was located. We pass it, until at the next crossing the house numbers are beyond 104. We walk back again, and finally find the entrance sign with the cryptic description “Forschungs- und Gedenkstätte Normannenstraße.�

The Imbiss in front of Haus 1, with its optic-artistic entrance supposedly houses the Stasi Museum, which remains uncertain until you actually enter and see the little prisoners transport truck at the staircase. We visit the exhibition spaces on the floors of Haus 1. Haus 1 was the main building, where Erich Mielke had his office. His office was preserved, and walking through it, feels like entering a time capsule. The light varnished furniture with the bright blue cushions, the primordial telephone, radio and television sets, the private room of Mielke, the bed with the brown bedspread, his desk with Lenin’s death mask. The pieces of furniture stand like silent eyewitnesses, refusing to speak of any of the paranoia of the state that developed within these walls.

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