Tomorrow is the anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, and we thought that this would be a nice time to re-visit something that originally appeared in the third edition of our in-house C Magazine about a dramatic escape that took place not far from The Circus beneath Bernauer Straße – pictured above a year before Tunnel 57 was built, in 1963:
Berlin is a city of stories, a place where it sometimes feels like there is a memorial on every corner where history permeates every length of pavement and every building older than a handful of years. The city is packed with museums that help us imagine the unimaginable. Then there are the monuments and memorials that stimulate reflection, as well as the piles of books in the windows of bookstores that take us back in order to explain those momentous events that shaped not only Berlin but the modern world. But the process of encasing history in buildings, marble or the pages of a book can put a distance between us and the events, and sometimes it takes a conversation, the hearing of personal testimony, to really bring history to life.
For almost three years now The Circus has been extremely fortunate to have formed a partnership with the ZeitZeugenBörse e.V. (Centre for Witness to Contemporary History), whose network of “eyewitnesses” give talks to schools, journalists and other institutions, telling their personal stories of life in Berlin and Germany. It does not matter whether the stories are extraordinary or simple tales of the everyday – each time we have hosted one of the talks in our Fabisch Restaurant it has been incredible to hear “what life was really like” for people who often spent substantial periods of their life in the shadow of repression, violence and war.