Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Brian Rose - The Lost Border

I spent a good part of my "misspent" youth along what was then known technically as the Inner German Border - that is, the Iron Curtain. Jim Johnson linked to a fascinating book and project by Brian Rose called "The Lost Border - The Landscape of the Iron Curtain".

Rose began documenting the border between East and west Germany in 1985, as it snaked relentlessly across the country - watchtowers, mine strips, barbed wire - across fields, bridges, rivers and towns.

Then, suddenly, in 1989 the whole thing collapsed. The Berlin Wall came down and within a year Germany was reunited. So Rose continued his project, documenting the remains (or not) of the Curtain. Sort of before and after.

There are numerous books about the Berlin Wall and its fall (which Rose also covers), but not so many about this much longer part of the Iron Curtain and how it divided the country in two.

I remember vividly watching "Grenzers" - East German Border Guards, with their massive binoculars, watching me - something Rose experienced (and I did have one colleague who managed to cause an international incident by accidentally crossing the East German border - eventually being handed over to the Russian GRU...). But unlike Rose, although I have been back to Germany since, I haven't been back to the border region outside of Berlin and seen where the traces of this internal, almost impenetrable, border can still often be seen.

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