Postcard from... Berlin


If the man who now runs former East Germany's once-hated Stasi archive realises his ambitions for the New Year then sometime in 2013, The Rolling Stones will hold a rock concert on top of the East Berlin building still containing millions of communist secret police files.

The idea is the dream of the current Stasi archive director Roland Jahn, a former East German dissident and fierce critic of communism. He is convinced that a Stones gig atop the Stasi building would be the ultimate symbol of communism's defeat.

Although many might regard such a stunt as yet more publicity for a rock band that has wallowed in a surfeit of the stuff for decades, Jahn, pictured, may have a point. Unlike Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, who held concerts in totalitarian East Berlin before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Stones never appear to have got off the communist blacklist. Back in 1969, Mick, Keith and co were rumoured to be about to hold a concert on the top of a building in West Berlin overlooking the infamous Berlin Wall. Hundreds of East Berlin rock fans descended on the capital in the hope of seeing their idols. But the concert never took place, and the Stasi rounded up, interrogated and imprisoned all the Stones fans in a matter of days.

Terrified of a rock-inspired insurrection, the secret police bosses had ordered a clampdown on all suspicious-looking young people. Stasi files show that 430 Stones fans were jailed in a single round-up. The Stones never played East Berlin but its fans were jailed for trying to attend a concert that never happened. Perhaps it's about time it did.