Archive for the ‘Berlin News’ Category

Berlin-Brandenburg Airport – Project from Hell

Monday, October 19th, 2015

Construction of Berlin’s new metropolitan airport, the Willy Brandt Berlin-Brandenburg Airport (BER), began in 2006. Named after the chancellor who governed former West Germany in the early 1970s, the new airport was to open in 2011. BER is a project of the city-state of Berlin, the regional government of Brandenburg and the federal government of Germany. The topping-out ceremony was held in 2010, but the opening was delayed – first until 2012, then until 2013, and most recently until 2017 In the meantime, the cost of building the new airport has risen from a projected $4.9 billion to $6 billion and may approach $7.2 billion by completion time. Meanwhile the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport is costing German taxpayers a whopping $17.9 million per day just to heat, light and keep its essential systems going. BER has not only been at the butt of many jokes, but after four delays and without a definite completion date in sight, Germany’s reputation for top quality work has been seriously tarnished.

Further Delays for Berlin-Brandenburg Airport

Now there are new potential delays on the horizon. Berlin-Brandenburg Airport’s most serious problem at this time is its faulty fire protection system. While the architects had intended to funnel smoke underneath the airport halls, ventilators were installed on the roof instead. That’s probably because the chief planner for the fire protection system was not an engineer. He was a technical draftsman, as emerged recently A monitoring committee found that three of the airport’s twenty ceiling panels are  fitted with ventilators that are too heavy. With 8,800 pounds, the ventilators are twice as heavy as called for. The discovery prompted the committee to issue a stop-work order, and workers are not allowed to work inside the terminal until modifications are made.

That’s not all. It has also come to light that unreliable foamed concrete was used for 600 fire-resistant walls. Before final inspection can be passed, these walls will have to be reinforced or replaced.

And there are other issues with the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport: There aren’t enough check-in counters and luggage retrieval systems, the IT system cooling units are too weak, the ducts through which cables are routed are dangerously over-burdened and the airport will be too small after all to handle the expected air traffic.

Corruption charges surround Berlin-Brandenburg Airport

One of the airport’s biggest contractors, Imtech Germany, the company that was in charge of repairing the airport’s faulty fire-safety system, has filed for bankruptcy. The insolvency declaration followed kickback allegations This is not the first time that bribery charges have surrounded the construction of BER. Last year, the airport’s technical director, Jochen Grossmann, was convicted of corruption. A fraud probe into several other contractors is underway. Germany’s Bild newspaper reported that three well-known companies are currently under investigation for fraud in connection with work on the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport: Siemens, Bosch and Deutsche Telekom.

Is Berlin-Brandenburg Airport the project from hell? It looks that way!


For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.








Comrade Lenin is back

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Twenty-four years after the 62-foot statue of Communist leader Vladimir Lenin was buried outside of Berlin, Germany, its granite head was unearthed this month and placed in a Berlin museum. Just last year, in August 2014, the Berlin senate had claimed that the giant statue was lost. At that time, authorities had maintained that they knew the general location of its burial place but had no records of the precise location. Digging up the entire pit, long overgrown with shrubs, to unearth Lenin’s head had seemed too costly an undertaking.

Who was Comrade Lenin?

Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924) was a Russian communist revolutionary and politician. He played a senior role in the October Revolution of 1917. Under his administration the Russian Empire was dissolved and replaced by the Soviet Union. His political theories are known as Leninism. Admirers view him as a champion of working people’s rights and welfare. Critics see him as a dictator responsible for civil war and massive human rights abuses. In East Germany, Lenin was held up as a model communist.

Where was Comrade Lenin’s statue located?

Designed by Nikolai Tomsky, Lenin’s giant sculpture was originally located in Leninplatz (Lenin Square) in the Friedrichshain district of former East Berlin. A gift from the Soviet Union to East Germany, the monument was carved from Ukrainian red Kapustino granite. Three days before the 100th anniversary of Lenin’s birth it was unveiled before 200,000 guests. The celebration took place on 19 April 1970. Subsequently, in 1992, the square was renamed Platz der Vereinten Nationen (United Nations Square).

Lenin statue at Leninplatz, Berlin, photo Bundesarchiv, Germany

Lenin statue at Leninplatz, Berlin,
photo Bundesarchiv, Germany

Why was Comrade Lenin’s statue removed?

The East German government had commissioned the statue to express East Germany’s reverence for and gratitude toward Lenin. But following the fall of the Berlin Wall, many Germans wanted to get rid of Soviet symbols, and Berlin’s then mayor Eberhard Diepgen ordered the statue to be removed. Critics argued that the monument was part of the history of the neighborhood and should remain. Nonetheless, two years after the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall, demolition took place.

Since 1994, a bubbling fountain has taken the place of Lenin’s sculpture in the Platz der Vereinten Nationen (United Nations Square). Now, water bubbles from five roughly hewn granite boulders in a group of fourteen that grace the square.

Where was Comrade Lenin’s statue buried?

The demolition of Lenin’s statue began in November 1991 and took several months. It was split in 129 sections and buried in a sand pit at Seddinberg in the district of Treptow-Koepenick, a southeastern suburb of Berlin. It seemed that Lenin’s statue would remain buried forever until historians started campaigning for its excavation last year. When the Berlin government claimed not to know where exactly it was buried, Rick Minnich, a Berlin-based US filmmaker, stepped up. He told the media that he knew its precise location because he had it partially unearthed a few years earlier for his 1990 film, Good-bye, Lenin.

Where is Comrade Lenin’s head now?

On 10 September 2015, Lenin’s 3.5-ton granite head was transported from the Seddinberg sand pit to Berlin’s Spandau Zitadelle museum. It is scheduled to be the showpiece in the Zitadelle’s exhibition, “Berlin and its Monuments,” which will display more than 100 original Berlin monuments from the 18th century to the fall of the Wall. According to Berlin officials, Lenin’s head will remain the only part of the statue to be excavated. All other sections will remain buried.


For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.

Berlin – top tourist destination in Germany

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

Berlin has become the top tourist destination in Germany. The city’s historical sights, diverse cultural events and pulsating nightlife continue to attract record numbers of visitors. In 2014, hotel beds became scarce when the city celebrated the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with 8,000 illuminated balloons marking the former border between east and west.

Founded in the 13th century and famous for its many historical sites, Berlin has something for everyone. Every street and building has a story to tell. The Mitte district is the most visited area of Berlin, followed by Charlottenburg, Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg – the first for its historic building; the last for its vibrant nightlife.

Berlin’s Historical Sights

At a minimum, a visit to Berlin must include the city’s iconic Brandenburg Gate, which for many years represented the separation of East and West Berlin. Other important sights are the Nikolai quarters where Berlin began, the Staatsoper Berlin (Opera House), the Olympic Stadium where Hitler snubbed Jesse Owens, the New Synagogue Berlin, the Berlin Zoo, the newly redeveloped Potsdamer Platz with its many shopping and dining opportunities, Museum Island, and the Reichstag (German Chancellery).

Special Events in 2015

March 27 to June 21 The Martin Gropius Bau and the Tel Aviv Museum are collaborating in “The Tel Aviv Museum of Art Visits Berlin,” art exhibition. Many of the latter’s treasures will be displayed in Germany for the first time.

April 18 to November 11 – The Bundesgartenschau (BUGA) will come to the River Havel region near Berlin. This National horticultural show has been held in different towns across Germany every two years since 1951. This year, the BUGA will extend along the River Havel over a distance of 50 miles, from Rathenow to Brandenburg via Rhinau, Havelberg, Premnitz and Stölln. Instead of the usual large hall-style exhibitions, the event will also feature flower shows in old church buildings. More than a million plants and flowers will be exhibited. In addition, various cultural events are planned, from jazz concerts to acrobatic displays.

May 23 – Berlin will be the setting for the eighth race in the electrically powered Formula E car races. The 17 turn, 2.47km circuit will be located within the ‘Apron’ section of the former Tempelhof Airport.

May 22 to September 9 – Art enthusiasts are looking forward to the “ImEx. Impressionism – Expressionism” exhibition in the Old National Gallery.

June 6 – The UEFA Soccer Champions League final will be held at the Olympic Stadium.

September 26 and 27 – The 42nd Berlin marathon is expected to once again attract 40,000 fans from around the world.

October 3 – Berlin will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the reunification of East and West Germany exhibitions with music events and cabaret shows.



For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.


Berlin – A Cultural Mecca

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

Over the years Berlin, Germany, has become a cultural Mecca. For almost 45 years, the city was divided. East Berlin was under Soviet control, West Berlin under American, British and French control. After the Berlin Wall was erected on August 13, 1961, the two halves of the city no longer shared sewer, gas or electric lines. Transportation systems were cut. With time, the two halves grew into two separate cities.

When Germany was reunited in 1990, the city suddenly found itself with a double compliment of everything. The unbeatable array of cultural attractions ranges from classical to traditional, from lifestyle to avant-garde. Today, the city boasts 1,500 cultural offerings every day, ranging from theaters, art galleries, concerts, ballet, cabaret, opera, shows, cinema, symphonies and exhibits to museums and memorial sites. Berlin’s large opera houses and show arenas lie next to small independent theaters, while traditional houses stand next to modern acting workshops. The many events in Berlin are diverse, and their requirements for a suitable location vary from vast arenas to large concert halls, and from open-air theaters to small club cellars. The city has 400 art galleries, which includes the Berlin Wall, because the largest remaining wall section holds 106 murals alone.

And, of course, there are countless historic sites to visit – the Brandenburg Gate, Jewish Museum, Philharmonics, Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin Cathedral, French Cathedral, Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, Stadtschloss, Red City Hall, Reichstag, Radio Tower, Cecilienhof Palace, Sanssouci Palace, Charlottenburg Palace, Hackesche Hoefe, Nikolai Quarters, the Huguenot Museum, Memorial to the Jews murdered of Europe, Soviet Memorial and the Tiergarten – just to name a few.

Brandenburg Gate - Berlin - Photo by J. Elke Ertle © 2014

Brandenburg Gate – Berlin – Photo by. Elke Ertle © 2014

In addition to the cultural variety that can be enjoyed in Berlin, the city’s nightlife, sports events and shopping opportunities are unequaled. According to art historian Karl Scheffler, Berlin “is a city that never is, but is always in the process of becoming.”

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.



25 years ago today Berlin Wall became history

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

Twenty-five years ago today, the Berlin Wall became history. On this day 25 years ago – on February 19, 1990 – East German border guards began the large-scale demolition of the Berlin Wall. By the end of the year, most of the Berlin Wall – or the “anti-fascist protection rampart” as it was called in East Germany – was history.

The demolition process that had been started by private Mauerspechte (wallpeckers), was completed by commercial construction crews. The initial teardown began in the area of the Brandenburg Gate. With jackhammers, crews began to remove 570 feet of Berlin Wall that stood between the Reichstag (Seat of the German Parliament) and Checkpoint Charlie (best known Berlin Wall crossing point between East and West Berlin). Trucks carted away the 2.6-ton wall segments. The East German company Limex would later sell them for up to 500,000 marks each.

The same area that was first freed from the Berlin Wall was also the location of the first provisional border crossing between East and West Berlin, hastily created in December 1989. Less than three years earlier, President Ronald Reagan had appealed to the Soviet leader: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” No one had imagined then that those words might soon become reality.

When the concrete elements were finally released from their foundation in February of 1990, most Berliners celebrated the event like a street festival. But not everyone shared their enthusiasm. Also on the day the Berlin Wall began to come down, a group of East German civil rights activists, clergy and politicians came together to discuss potential paths to a democratic transformation of East Germany. The group did not want to join West Germany and hoped to find a different solution. But East Germany was facing bankruptcy and economic collapse. In the preceding weeks and months, Hans Modrow, the last premier of the East German regime, had tried in vain to obtain a 15 billion mark loan from West Germany. At the end of their meeting on February 19, 1990, the group of round table members rejected the plan of joining West Germany and called for a demilitarized united Germany instead. We know that history did not support their decision.


For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of Walled-In is my story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.


Christmas Time in Berlin

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

If you want to catch some good old-fashioned holiday spirit, a visit to Berlin during Christmas time might just get the job done. As a result of the reunification in 1990, Berlin has ended up with a double complement of practically everything from theaters to museums, art galleries, opera houses, symphony orchestras, churches, zoos and, of course, Weihnachtsmaerkte – Christmas markets.

Christmas market – Weihnachtsmarkt in Berlin

At last count, approximately 80 Christmas markets in and around the city beckon visitors to experience Christmas time in Berlin. There are traditional and contemporary handcrafted toys to be admired, wood- and glass art, ceramics, baskets, candles and much more. Some of the markets even invite visitors to create their own Christmas tree ornament or advent wreath. For culinary enthusiasts, treats of all kinds are waiting to be sampled. Bratwurst (sausage), Lebkuchen (gingerbread), Pilzpfanne (fresh mushrooms fried with onions and bacon), hot chocolate and Gluehwein (mulled wine) are only a few of the holiday specialties offered. Sometimes, concerts, readings and special performances may be enjoyed along the way.

Christmas Lights in Berlin

Then after dark, many parts of the city are transformed into a sea of festive lights. The Charlottenburg castle is illuminated. The energy provider, Vattenfall, lights up the 220 linden trees on Unter den Linden, Berlin’s celebrated boulevard near the Brandenburger Tor. But my favorite is the Kurfuerstendamm. For the past 11 years, the Wall AG, an outdoor advertising firm that is part of the International JDDecaux Group, has dressed up the roughly 570 trees on both sidewalks and the median in their Christmas finery. Between 650 and 950 feet of lights are required to decorate each tree. That makes for roughly 145 miles of lights. Additional light sculptures, representing a nutcracker, reindeer, a train and Christmas trees, adorn the median.

Christmas lights in Berlin - 2014 - Photo: Gundi Seifert

Christmas lights in Berlin – 2014 – Photo: Gundi Seifert

Christmas lights on Berlin's Kurfuerstendamm - 2014 - Photo: Gundi Seifert

Christmas lights on Berlin’s Kurfuerstendamm – 2014 – Photo: Gundi Seifert

If you want to get into the holiday spirit, experience Christmas time in Berlin. Now stay tuned for my favorite Gluehwein recipe. I will share it with you next week and bet that the Gluehwein will put some color into your cheeks and some goodwill into your heart.


For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.


See the “Lichtgrenze” in Berlin in Fall

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

If you are looking for a one-of-a-kind experience, take a trip to Berlin, Germany, later this year to see the Lichtgrenze (border of lights). Lichtgrenze is an artistic light project that will commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism. At a cost of just under 2 million, the State of Berlin, in collaboration with Kulturprojekte Berlin GmbH will place 8,000 illuminated balloons along the route of the former wall. The installation will be funded with lottery money.

Visualization of the LICHTGRENZE © Kulturprojekte Berlin / Christopher Bauder, Foto: Daniel Baeche

Visualization of the LICHTGRENZE © Kulturprojekte Berlin / Christopher Bauder, Foto: Daniel Baeche

2014 Fall of the Wall Celebrations

The Berlin Wall divided the city for nearly thirty years. It tumbled on 9 November 1989. Twenty-five years later, Berlin has transformed into a vibrant metropolis. Throughout 2014, locals and visitors can enjoy special lectures, movies, concerts, exhibitions and readings. But the high point of the celebrations will be the Lichtgrenze during the weekend of November 8 and 9. The installation will trace the path of the Wall over a stretch of approximately 8 miles in the city center. It will run from the Bornholmer Strasse to the Oberbaumbruecke, past the Mauerpark, along the Berlin Wall Memorial on the Bernauer Strasse up to the Brandenburg Gate, across the Potsdamer Platz to Checkpoint Charlie, and finally to the East Side Gallery. An accompanying open-air exhibition will take a closer look at the division, the peaceful revolution, and the ultimate fall of the Wall.

Release of Balloons

On the night of November 9, the helium-filled balloons will be released into the sky at five spots in the city center to commemorate the opening of the Berlin Wall 25 years ago. The release will represent “a symbol of hope for a world without walls” and will follow a countdown, played by the Staatskapelle Berlin and conducted by Daniel Barenboim. A public party at the Brandenburg Gate will then round off the celebrations.

Lichtgrenze’s installation inspired by two brothers

Lichtgrenze is the brain child of two brothers: Christopher and Marc Bauder. Christopher, born in 1973, is an interaction designer and media artist. He focuses on the translation of digital information into objects and environments and vice versa. Marc, born in 1974, has produced and directed many award-winning documentaries for television and cinema. Both live and work in Berlin. For additional information, visit


For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.



Berlin’s first Squirrel Bridge

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

This March, Berlin, Germany, got its first squirrel bridge. Volunteers from the association “Menschen fuer Tiere, e.V.” (People for Animals), one of Germany’s largest wildlife and nature conservations, constructed a squirrel crossing in Berlin’s district of Friedrichshagen.

Purpose of a squirrel bridge?

The Mueggelseedamm in Friedrichshagen is a busy, two-lane cobble stone road that skirts the Mueggelsee, a large lake in Berlin’s eastern suburbs. Until this year, squirrels, our small, bushy-tailed rodent friends, had to take their lives into their versatile little claws whenever they wished to cross from one side of the street to the other. The crowns of the trees that line both sides of the Mueggelseedamm are just too far apart to allow for safe branch-to-branch jumps. Attempting to cross the roadway between oncoming automobiles instead, many of the squirrels perished. While the natural lifespan of squirrels is approximately six years, most urban squirrels are said to fail to reach their first birthday due to unintended automobile contact. At a cost of 500 Euros, Menschen fuer Tiere, e.V. hopes to change those odds by providing a safer street crossing alternative. As part of a campaign, called “Aktion Tier,” volunteers installed Berlin’s first squirrel bridge, consisting of a 70-foot-long synthetic rope that stretches between trees on either side of the roadway.

List of Worldwide Squirrel bridges

The idea of an alternative animal crossing is not unique, however. There are over one dozen squirrel bridges worldwide. The first known bridge constructed is the Nutty Narrows Bridge in Washington. It was installed in 1963. Of the thirteen known squirrel bridges worldwide, only two are located in the United States. The remainder is found in Europe.

  • Nutty Narrows Bridge, Longview, Washington – constructed 1963,
  • near Formby, Great Britain – constructed 2004,
  • Aberdeen, Scotland – constructed 2008,
  • Mount Graham, Arizona, USA – constructed 2010,
  • Burgstrasse, Vlotho, Germany, constructed 2012,
  • Benoordenhoutseweg, The Hague, Belgium, constructed 2012,
  • Parc Franck-Delmas/Parc d’Orbigny, La Rochelle, France – constructed 2012,
  • Kilometer 73,90, Rijksweg 12, Netherlands – constructed 2012,
  • Ring 0, Brussels, Belgium – constructed 2013,
  • Europaboulebard, Amstelpark, Amsterdam, Netherlands – constructed 2011/12,
  • Heinsbergerweg, Roermond, Netherlands – constructed 2013, and
  • Andrelaan, Brecht, Belgium – constructed 2013


For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.



100% Tempelhof Field

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Last month, Berliners voted in a referendum, called “100% Tempelhof Field” to keep the former airport site permanently open to the public. Tempelhof Airport, centrally located and roughly the size of New York’s Central Park, was closed in 2008 and recently slated for construction of housing units and public buildings.

Tempelhof Field History

Tempelhof Field had once been a parade ground for the Prussian army. In 1909, the American aviation pioneer, Orville Wright, managed to stay in the air over Berlin for one full hour. In the 1920s, Zeppelins lifted off this field, and in 1926, German Airlines, Lufthansa, got their start in here. In the mid-1930s, Hitler decided to build a world-class airport on this site, planning to rename it “Germania.” In only two years, the symmetrical complex was completed and consisted of 49 buildings, 7 hangars, and 9,000 offices, amounting to a total of 3,067,000 square feet of space. In 1945, US Forces took control of the airport, expanded the complex, and used it as a base for the next five decades. During the 1948/49 Berlin Blockade, Tempelhof Field served as a major takeoff and landing site for the Berlin Airlift. In 1951, the US Forces released the airport for civil air and freight traffic, but within a decade it had reached its capacity. After Tegel Airport opened in 1975, Tempelhof Airport operations were suspended, and in 2008 the historic landmark was closed altogether.

Tempelhof Field Controversy

In 1996, the city decided to build a new mega-airport, Berlin Brandenburg International (BBI). As the opening of BBI got delayed several times, controversy over the use of Tempelhof Field ensued. Some wanted to see the grounds preserved as a commercial airport; others wanted them turned into a museum, residences, and park land.In an attempts to ease Berlin’s housing crises, city fathers proposed to build 4,700 apartments and commercial spaces and a public library on the former airport site.

100% Tempelhof Field

Almost 65 percent of those who voted on this citizens’ initiative gave their support to “100% Tempelhof Field.” Since the closure of Tempelhof Airport, Berliners had used the field for a variety of festivals, music events, art exhibitions, barbecues, kite flying, wind skating (surfing on skateboards), gardening, and football. The area also has a six-kilometer cycling, skating and jogging trail, a dog-walking field, and an enormous picnic area.

Tempelhof Airport with Tempelhof Field in background, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2015

Tempelhof Airport with Tempelhof Field in background, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2015

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.



Ampelmann to marry Ampelfrau

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Berlin’s Ampelmann, the stout little pedestrian traffic light man of the former East Germany, is searching for a good-looking Ampelfrau. A child of the 1960s, Ampelmann doesn’t want to be called Ampelmaennchen (“little” traffic light man) anymore Having outlasted communism and the Cold War and turned into a beloved symbol of one of the often-overlooked positive things that came out of the former Communist Germany, Ampelmann is ready to settle down and is poised for marriage.

Ampelmaennchen (little traffic light men) created by former East Berliner, Karl Peglau

Ampelmaennchen (little traffic light men) created by former East Berliner, Karl Peglau

Ampelmann seeks mate

His plea to one of Berlin’s local assemblies last week read something like this:


Martina Matischok, leader of the German Social Democrat Party in Berlin’s central district of Mitte, played matchmaker. On 12 May 2014, she asked the local assembly to introduce an Ampelfrau alongside Berlin’s much-revered Ampelmann. The Ampelfrau should look “modern and self-confident,” the Social Democrat wrote in her motion. “It’s about equality,” Matischok said. “We don’t want to replace the Ampelmann; we want to complete him.” The document further states that under no circumstances should the Ampelfrau conform to “sexist stereotypes” with ponytail or full skirt. Neither should she wear high heels or a mini skirt.

Ampelfrauen in Other Towns

Ampelfrauen already direct pedestrian crossings in several German and European cities. The former East German town of Zwickau was the first to install an Ampelfrau in 2004. Dresden, Sonthofen, and Fuerstenwalde followed suit. Belgium and England are examples of other locals that have introduced female pedestrian traffic guides at pedestrian crossings.

Berlin Mitte’s assembly will consider the request on May 22. What does a self-confident, modern-day woman look like? Any suggestions?


For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.