BOOKS - NEW GERMANY - TEN YEARS ON - Along the Wall and Watchtowers, Oliver August, HarperCollins £19.99. Mark Leonard goes on a journey around modern Germany with a capable guide whose travelogue is insightful, if at times a little rambling.
On 9 November 1989, the crowds partied on the Berlin Wall. By 3rd October 1990, the 'German Democratic Republic' had been officially consigned to the dustbin of history. This rapid reunification on western terms was not inevitable. Gorbachev, Mitterrand, Thatcher and most of the German intelligentsia, both east and west, wanted slower evolution to a more-open destination. Helmut Kohl seized upon popular sentiment - as the placards changed from wir sind das Volk to wir sind ein Volk - to turn them all into Canutes, unable to hold back history. But could Germany really become one nation so easily? Oliver August travels along the disappeared border and finds that few people want to commemorate or even talk about it.