Postcard from... Berlin

Dressed up in jackboots and the grey uniform of former Communist East Germany’s hated border police, the man-sized bear goose-steps across the cobblestones in front of the Brandenburg Gate. He sidles up to giggling tourists who willingly part with their euros to have pictures taken of themselves being bear-hugged for a souvenir.

Remains of cars at the partially destroyed village of Oradour-sur-Glane, south-western France, where German SS Nazi troops massacred 642 people on June 10, 1944

Former SS man charged with taking part in massacre at French village that killed 642

Oradour-sur-Glane has been deliberately left untouched as a permanent memorial to the 642 people slaughtered there on 10 June 1944

The Berlin Wall was built along the border between the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and the Federal Republic of Germany

Red Love: The Story of an East German Family, By Maxim Leo, trans. Shaun Whiteside

An illuminating look at life behind the Berlin Wall

Books of the year 2013: Fiction in translation

How should authors transform autobiography into self-standing fiction? For Karl Ove Knausgaard, with A Man in Love (translated by Don Bartlett; Vintage, £8.99), this second volume in the Norwegian writer's acclaimed "My Struggle" series mines the everyday material of young fatherhood. Yet he converts it into a stunningly eloquent set of reflections on masculinity, domesticity and the artist's itch to escape.

Angela Merkel using her phone two years ago

NSA humbling of Germany has historical precedent

Germany's exposure to the NSA's prying eyes is a blunt reminder of the country's past aggression and eventual defeat

Postcard from... Gartz

Pep Guardiola hasn't had the 'perfect' start to his career with Bayern Munich that many will have expected

Pep Guardiola needs time to succeed at Bayern Munich claims former East Germany international Uwe Rosler

The Brentford manager speaks to Jack Pitt-Brooke on how Guardiola's challenge to the Bayern squad will take time to sink in

The ballroom’s interior in 2011

Dances to the music of time: Clärchens Ballhaus - Berlin’s hall of fame hits 100

The outside of the building in East Berlin’s Auguststrasse looked as if it hadn’t been painted since the Second World War – and it probably hadn’t.

Postcard from... Berlin

Tosca

Classical review: Tosca - Adam Spreadbury-Maher's production doesn't quite meet expectations

OperaUpClose specialises in bold transpositions, best exemplified by its witty setting of Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera in an IKEA store. For Tosca their writer-director Adam Spreadbury-Maher has effected a different kind of transposition, but one which is entirely logical.

The red and green Amplemä-nnchen signs began life in Communist East Germany but could be making a comeback elsewhere in the EU

Go ahead: Bring back East Germany’s little traffic light man, say researchers

Study suggests that pedestrians respond more quickly to icon of Communist era

Lothar Bisky died on 13 August at the age of 71

Lothar Bisky: Communist who helped former comrades enter the political mainstream in reunified Germany

Lothar Bisky, who died on 13 August at the age of 71, was a politican, who after German reunification helped steer discredited East German communists into the mainstream of national politics. He was among a handful of East German Communists who took the helm of the discredited former ruling Socialist Unity Party following the opening of the Berlin Wall and the removal of the hard-line leadership. They transformed the former Stalinist party into a Western-style left-wing movement that still enjoys support, mostly in former Communist areas of eastern Germany.

Inge Lange joined the SED when it was established in 1946

Inge Lange: One of few women to hold power in the GDR

Although the Communist regime of Walter Ulbricht and Erich Honecker always claimed that East Germany was the most advanced state as far as women's rights were concerned, it proved very difficult for women to advance to leadership positions in many spheres.

Book review: In Times of Fading Light, By Eugen Ruge, trans. Anthea Bell

A bewitching collage of loves and sorrows brings the lost East Germany back to life

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