Today I am very excited to welcome J.L. Merrow to the blog. Earlier today I reviewed her latest book Midnight in Berlin, and now we are lucky enough to have her join us and tell us more about that city and what it means to her. Welcome J.L.!
Berlin isn’t just the setting of my latest novel, Midnight in Berlin. It’s a place with a lot of memories for me. So I’d like to take you on a very special trip to Berlin—but not as it is today: I’d like to take you back to the summer of 1989…
For those of you who are too young to remember, the Berlin Wall was still standing in those days. It’s hard to describe just how much of an impact it had on me, as an impressionable 22-year-old. Because the Wall, in Berlin, was everywhere. I was in the city to do some voluntary work. We stayed in a school, which was situated a short way from the Wall—and by short, I mean, about the distance to the end of this sentence. The first night I was there, one of the boys took me up to the top floor of the school to look out over the Wall in the darkness, and see the soldiers in their security turrets; the machine guns and the searchlights.
Scary stuff. Even more scary: our trip to the Haus am Checkpoint Charlie museum, which told the story of the Wall, and of the incredibly brave attempts made by East Germans to escape. Even on a night out, you couldn’t leave the Wall behind: many journeys by underground involved going through old stations, now on the wrong side of the Wall. They were dimly lit and ghostly, and to East Berliners, invisible, having been concreted over to prevent anyone using them as an escape route.
But the best part of the trip, for me?
Seeing the Wall come down, only months after I’d been there, and Germany reunited.