Postcard from... Berlin

Anyone who has been on the streets of Berlin on New Year's Eve will know that the experience is exciting, if not easy. For most of the year Germany enforces strict controls on the sale and use of fireworks. But these are waived for New Year celebrations and every corner shop suddenly has a host of firecrackers, rockets and other pyrotechnics on sale to the general public.

A batch of patients were unwittingly subjected to testing for the blood pressure drug Ramipril

Drug firms bought East German patients to use as human guinea pigs

Bruchmüller described how the patient in the bed next to him suddenly died of a  heart attack

Postcard from... Berlin

Communist East Germany may have been killed off with the fall of the Berlin Wall 23 years ago, but its products live on – and on. Some 90,000 former East German citizens queued up in freezing temperatures over the weekend to get into east Berlin's Yuletide phenomenon for insiders – a Christmas market dedicated to selling “Ossiware” – goods that were being produced in East Germany before 1989 and still are.

Postcard from... Berlin

The Sex Pistols made a deep impression on Frank Willmann. He first listened to their music at home in communist East Germany at the age of 14. By the time he was 17, he belonged to the group of around 900 East German punks who were subjected to almost daily humiliation and insults from the regular police, the Stasi, and ordinary citizens. “We were banned from all the pubs, discos and youth clubs and on the street we were called scroungers,” he recalls.

Ikea used forced prison labour to make furniture

Ikea, the Swedish furniture giant whose flat-pack offerings grace homes from Bolton to Bangkok, has admitted that East German political prisoners had been used to make its goods for as long as three decades.

Postcard from... Germany

The mayor of Wolgast, close to the border with Poland, decided to set up a “model” hostel for asylum seekers on a tower block estate. The aim was to integrate the 180 newcomers from Afghanistan, Iraq and Ghana into the existing community. But then a TV documentary exposed the project's nastier side. The estate's German residents gave interviews saying they didn't want any foreigners in their neighbourhood. A neo-Nazi rock tune blasted out of the windows of one of the flats overlooking the hostel. Some of the asylum seekers' children were shown dancing to the music blissfully unaware of its racist lyrics. A youth told the reporter: “They want to burn down the asylum block.”

Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-56

Communism's end was in its beginning

Capture the castle: Neuschwanstein

We're not just here for the beer

Oktoberfest draws millions of visitors to Bavaria each year, but there's much more to this quirky German state

Magnetic: Nina Hoss draws the attention in Christian Petzold’s Barbara

Barbara, Christian Petzold, 105 mins (12A)

Remember the 2006 drama The Lives of Others, about surveillance in the old East Germany? Its ambitious novelistic sprawl would have expanded nicely into a television series – you could imagine the film's Stasi snooper as a TV anti-hero, a shabbier Don Draper or Tony Soprano in ill-fitting headphones.

Women’s shot putter Valerie Adams had her silver medal upgraded

Impatient Valerie Adams forced to wait a little longer for her golden lining

There was a surprise for Valerie Adams after her victory in the women's shot put at the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix yesterday. Asked how she felt about setting a stadium record, the big New Zealander replied: "Oh, thanks. I didn't even know I got that."

Postcard From...Berlin

The story of Peter Fechter sums up the Cold War's brutality more than most. Fifty years ago this week, the 18-year-old trainee bricklayer was gunned down in a hail of bullets fired by border guards while trying to flee from East Berlin over the city's infamous wall to what was then capitalist West Berlin.

Angela Merkel has returned from holiday, during which she visited the Bayreuth festival

Angela Merkel returns from holidays and wades straight into eurozone row

Chancellor's senior ally warns Germany will veto next Greek aid package if reforms are not pushed through

Jeter brings it home to smash 27-year-old 'tainted' world record

As the American sprinter Carmelita Jeter crossed the finish line at the end of the women's 4 x 100m relay last night, she pointed towards the trackside clock in wide-eyed astonishment. This figures on the in-field display were: 40.82. It was a seismic moment not just for London 2012 but for track and field.

Michael Phelps enjoys the victory over his friend Ryan Lochte

Michael Phelps reasserts authority with his 16th Olympic gold

The total now stands at 16 and this one was all his own work. Michael Phelps claimed his first individual gold of London 2012 last night with a devastating swim in the 200m individual medley that proved too much for a tiring Ryan Lochte. Phelps, the master of Beijing, has reasserted his authority in the pool.

Carrying the weight: Despite his formative years in East Germany, Jürgen Grobler has made Britain his home and British rowing his passion

The Last Word: Coach with a dark past has lit up rowing

Jürgen Grobler turned his own life around then remodelled the GB squad into world-beaters

Latest stories from i100
Career Services

Day In a Page

A
Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy