Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Brandenburg Gate

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Brandenburg Gate

by Henry Porter

Brandenburg Gate by Henry Porter
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2006, 448 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2007, 448 pages

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As The Berlin Wall fell my husband and I procrastinated. We sat in our small London house saying to ourselves that we really should go and see it, but we'd just got back from our honeymoon, and there were things to do, thank you cards to write, jobs that we shouldn't really take any more time off from - and as a result we frittered away the opportunity to see first-hand one of the most momentous events of the 20th century. Fortunately, there are writers such as Henry Porter who bring the events to life in novel form, and now the internet where we can live vicariously through other people's photo albums!

The Brandenburg Gate, the symbol of Berlin, is a triumphal arch based on the Propylea (the gateway to the Acropolis in Athens). It is the only remaining gate of a series that one used to go through to enter Berlin. It was one of only two structures left standing in the ruins of the Pariser Platz in 1945, and was restored by the East and West Berlin governments. However, it was closed in 1961 when the Berlin Wall was built.

When the Wall fell in 1989 the gate symbolized freedom and unity for the city. It re-opened on 22nd December 1989 when the West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl walked through to be greeted by the East German Prime Minister, Hans Modrow (video footage of the meeting).

This article was originally published in May 2006, and has been updated for the April 2007 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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