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LETTER FROM BERLIN

the Shift to Mitte

SINCE LAST NOVEMBER, an American tour operator has been offering special “Berlin Trips” for tourists from the States. For GIs formerly stationed in Berlin there are “Nostalgia Journeys” along the old barracks in Grunewald, past the Brandenburg Gate, across the elegant Unter den Linden Boulevard, and on to Alexanderplatz. Presenting themselves as journeys of reconciliation for vets at the close of the cold war, these tours at once evoke the time before the building of the Wall and document the era of transformation. Some seventy former soldiers signed up for the first tour. Clearly, the “Nostalgia Journeys” offer the ideal addition to the sightseeing menu, which puts Berlin on the map as a postwar theme park.

Seven years after reunification, Mitte—the former city district of East Berlin, with its socialist-style GDR ministries and the wrecked, five-flat buildings next to the late-19th-century

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