Sunday, July 22, 2012
The Berlin Crossing
Politically, this is the situation for East Germans after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Capitalism has triumphed over communism, and the Wessies are swarming over East Germany, usurping all the important posts, and crowding out the East Germans, especially those who have been loyal Party members like Michael Ritter, the protagonist of The Berlin Crossing. To make matters worse, Ritter teaches English: only unswerving party members could be trusted to specialize in the language of the enemy, and dedication to the ideals of communism is now the kiss of death. In a gesture of defiance, Ritter drives an ugly old Trabi, a relic from the Communist era, even though better cars are now available. In other words, Ritter wears his continued dedication to the ideals of Communism on his sleeve. And so he loses his job.
Shortly afterwards, Ritter loses his mother. An only child of a single parent, he returned home to nurse her through her last days. On her deathbed, Ritter's mother implores him to go to Bad Saarow to talk to Pastor Bruck to find out about his father.
So begins Ritter's quest to track down the truth about his father, which leads back to the dark days of the repressive East German regime and ultimately to a small town in Ireland. The plot was not particularly credible, but the evocation of the atmosphere of those days made The Berlin Crossing an enjoyable book to read.