The Best Books to Take You Through Berlin, Germany & More Breaking News

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Written by enews

Listen to Bertolt Brecht’s “Threepenny Opera.” There is even a BBC production with David Bowie. Yes, it’s officially set in London, but it’s the quintessential play about Berlin in the 1920s. Don’t try to make sense of the story: Just enjoy the songs.

While listening to the “Threepenny Opera,” you might want to take a walk around Berliner Ensemble, the theater where “Threepenny Opera” premiered in 1928 and where Brecht himself directed his plays after he returned from his Hollywood exile. There is also a statue of Brecht but the real monument is, of course, his theater.

This is a not a fun recommendation, but go to Hohenschönhausen prison, where the East German secret police interrogated dissidents, many of them writers. Back then, you couldn’t find it on any map: Very few people even knew it existed. Now, former inmates are the tour guides! The ex-prisoners are so young, relatively speaking, that one understands viscerally how recently the dictatorship was still in place. It may ruin your day, but it will help you understand more about the latter half of the 20th century than most books or museums.

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From the Berliner Ensemble take a 10-minute walk past Friedrichstrasse train station — which in the times of the wall was the train station between East and West — to the gigantic bookstore called Dussmann, on Friedrichstrasse. It has everything, in all languages, and is so big you might never find your way out.

Or, if you’re already in the western part of the city, go to Bücherbogen at Savignyplatz. It’s smaller than Dussmann, but it’s probably Berlin’s most beautiful independent bookstore.

Then take all the books you’ve bought and, if it’s spring or summer, go to gritty Volkspark Friedrichshain and stay until the sun finally sets. If it’s winter, though, don’t even try. Avoid the park.

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