From about 2013 to 2018 I led a series of walks and tours, often linked to my books and writing, in collaboration with the wonderful Slow Travel Berlin. The walks are on a break right now, but I have left the information below in case anyone is interested in a private tour or themed-walk through the city, the surrounding countryside or the edgelands in-between. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me on paulscraton (at) gmail (dot) com.
Invisible Border: Walking the Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was – in the words of British Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell – an “extraordinary phenomenon”. It remains, in its absence, extraordinary to this day; as a site of memory that is also a bike path, a memorial where people walk their dogs or commute to work, and a structure that – with a few notable exceptions – barely exists beyond memory and imagination, and yet continues to shape the landscape of the city and the lives of those who live in it.
On this walk we will follow the trail for seven kilometres, from Bornholmer Straße where the first checkpoint was opened on that memorable night in 1989 to the Hauptbahnhof, one of the more visible symbols of reunification and the “New Berlin” that has emerged over the past two decades.
Der Kiez ist Anders: A cultural-historical stroll through Wedding & Gesundbrunnen
The historic neighbourhood of Wedding has always been a place apart, as the saying goes. From a health resort and spa town on the edge of the city it grew with Berlin’s industrialisation to become “Red Wedding”, a working class neighbourhood of tenement blocks, infamous for its militant left-wing politics and one of the few districts of the city never to vote for the Nazis.
After the war Wedding found itself in West Berlin – hemmed in on two sides by the Berlin Wall, and home to a diverse mix of people who came to the city from around the world. “Red Wedding” became “Buntes (colourful) Wedding”. The industry that had brought the workers to Wedding collapsed, and the effect of 50-odd years of economic stagnation can be seen on the streets to this day.
A Hike Along the Berlin Wall Trail
The edge of the city can be as fascinating as the centre, as we will discover on this 15km guided walk along the Berlin Wall trail. This walk takes in some of the most beautiful corners of Berlin and Potsdam, with much of the walk between the woods and the water.
Of course, this being Berlin, the walk is not only picturesque, and along the way we will discover the villas that housed Stalin, Truman and Churchill during the Potsdam Conference, discuss the present-day access debates that are preventing walkers and cyclists such as ourselves from accessing the embankment, look out over the bridge where spies were exchanging during the Cold War, and wander the cobbled streets of what was once an exclave of the GDR, surrounded on all sides by the Berlin Wall and the water.