Postcard from... Berlin


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The Independent Online


Her reputation as the “world’s most powerful woman” has been enhanced by her landslide victory in Germany’s general election this week. Now Angela Merkel fans can enjoy a hands-on “Merkel experience”.

The flat once inhabited by Germany’s first female leader is being rented out to weekend visitors to Berlin for a modest ¤55 a night. “Live like Angela Merkel once did,” reads the blurb advertising the two-room apartment in the once-dilapidated but now-ultra-trendy Prenzlauer Berg district. “Super central but fantastically quiet,” it continues.

On offer is a small renovated flat packed with Ikea furniture. But anyone expecting traces of La Merkel will be disappointed. Apart from the walls, everything dating from her era has been painstakingly renovated beyond recognition.

Angela Merkel was 35 when she lived there. On the night of 9 November 1989, after a visit to the sauna, she walked the few hundred yards from the apartment to Berlin’s Bornholmer bridge crossing point, through the Berlin Wall, and joined the tens of thousands of East Germans streaming westwards. True to character, she soon turned round and went back because she wanted to be fit for her research job at East Berlin’s Institute for Physical Chemistry the next day.

In 1989, Prenzlauer Berg’s house façades were so pockmarked with bullet holes that it seemed as if the Second World War had ended only the day before. Gentrification has changed the area for ever. “Only West Germans live there now,” remarks Angela these days when asked about her former home.