After 12 months of planning and 12 hours of flying, this is Berlin. I’ll be here for a month, learning German better at school and revisiting corners of this former East-West border city that featured prominently in the life of everyone my age. My generation was born shortly after Nazi Germany’s surrender, and our lives have been defined by the global political division that followed.
My last trip to what now is the German capital was marked by harassment from Soviet guards at Checkpoint Charlie, shopping at Alexanderplatz with black-market East German marks, a subway papers check by submachine-gun toting People’s Police, and a somber visit to Spandau Prison, where Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess was serving a life sentence. The Berlin Wall has been gone now for more than the 26 years it stood, and I’m here to see the Berlin that has changed with it.