Sunday, 5 August 2018

Going "drüben"

Drüben, which in German means "over there", is frequently used by Werner Volkmann and Bernard Samson in the Game, Set and Match books as a cover for going behind the Iron Curtain into East Berlin, bailiwick of one Erich Stinnes, KGB Colonel.

This last weekend, the Deighton Dossier - with Shane Whaley from Spybrary and some other spybrarians - went "drüben", even though the Wall is now, to most Berliners, a hazy memory. Our objective was to visit a few of the places that feature in Berlin Game, the opening novel of the Game, Set and Match ennealogy, to help listeners gain insight into why these books are landmarks in spy fiction, why Bernard Samson is the most unconventional and conflicted of spies, and why Berlin makes such a great location for spy fiction (and for podcasts).

So, we went to Checkpoint Charlie (venue for the marvellous opening scene in Chapter One which tells us so much about Bernard and Werner's relationship), Friedrichstrasse S-Bahn (Bernard's frequent route "drüben", Tante Lisl's house in Charlottenburg (at least, the one portrayed in the mini-series from 1988), and Normannenstrasse. Along the way we read passages from the books, talked about the characterisations, mixed in some general spy fiction chatter, all of which should lead to a great edition of the Spybrary podcast.

Our secret weapon, our man on the inside: Deighton Dossier reader Peter Hegenbarth, a West Berliner who remembers the divided city well and offered up many fascinating contemporary stories from the period in which Bernard Samson was, in the fictional city, chasing down the mole in London Central and escaping the clutches of Stinnes and Moskvin behind the Iron Curtain.

Below are a selection of photos from the podcast trip - do make sure to catch it when it's up, soon.

We discovered a wonderful DDR consumer goods emporium - Stinnes would have felt at home

Spybrarians waiting to meet with Brahms Four. He didn't show.

Spybrary interviews our man in the West, Peter Hegenbarth

Spybrarian David Craggs had story after story about the Samson series

Stinnes' HQ - the model of the Stasi complex at Normannenstasse
Check out this Twitter moment for a flavour of the online discussion around the day

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