FRIEDRICHSHAIN AND LICHTENBERG
As the alternative scene follows the low rents ever eastward, Friedrichshain is becoming the new temple of the unpretentiously hip. Relatively unrenovated since reunification, the district retains its pre-fab apartments and large stretches of the wall. Simon-Dach-Str. is cluttered with outdoor cafes and a crowd of 20-somethings. The grungier area around Rigarstr. is one of the strongholds of Berlin’s legendary alternative scene, home to squatter bars, makeshift clubs, and punks lounging with their excitable dogs.
II EAST SIDE GALLERY. The longest remaining portion of the Wall, this 1.3km stretch of cement and asbestos slabs also serves as the world’s largest open-air art gallery, unsupervised and open at all hours. The murals are not remnants of Cold War graffiti but rather the efforts of an international group of artists who gathered here in 1989 to celebrate the fall of the wall. It was expected that the wall would be destroyed and the paintings lost, but in 2000, with the wall still standing, many of the same artists reconvened to repaint their work, covering the scrawlings of tourists; unfortunately, the new paintings are again being covered over by other graffiti artists. (Along Miihlenstr. Ul: Warschauer Str. and walk back toward the river.)
FORSCHUNGS- UND GEDENKSTATTE NORMANNENSTRAftE. In the suburb of Lichtenberg is the most hated and feared building of the DDR regime the headquarters of the East German secret police, the Staatssicherheit or Stasi. On January 15,1990, a crowd of 100,000 Berliners stormed and vandalized the building to protest the police state. During the Cold War, some 6 million dossiers on citizens of the DDR, a country of only 16 million people, were kept here. Since a 1991 law made the records public, the Horror Files have rocked Germany, exposing informants and wrecking careers, marriages, and friendships at all levels of society. Today, German-language exhibits display the tiny microphones and cameras used for survellance and a bizarre Stasi shrine of Lenin busts. (Ruschestr. 103, Haus 1. U5: Magdalenenstr. From the station’s Ruschestr. exit, walk up Ruschestr. and take a right on Normannenstr. Open Su and Sa 2-6pm, Tu-F llam-6pm. ‚3, students ‚1.50.)