It was the tenth of November: the year doesn’t matter. It was one of those years of the primordial eon when Berlin was a walled city. It was not a traditional fortress, but rather one turned inside out. It was designed not to keep enemies out, but to keep citizens in.
We were crouched, freezing, on the side of a hill in the southern reaches of our half of the city. The hill was a manmade creation—a giant mound of rubble from when the allies bombed Berlin day and night. Over the years the rubble mountain was accepted into the environment and we, in our utilitarian way, had ringed it with barbed wire of our own and capped it with a massive listening post that reached out to the communications of the five Soviet armies that still occupied the German Democratic Republic.
The structures behind us, atop the hill, looked like something Mad Ludwig of Bavaria might have conjured up in one of his worst nightmares, It was the run-on sentence of architecture with sub-buildings scabbed onto main buildings creating layers that reached ever higher; all of them were surmounted with plastic domes of every size. The entire fantasy was webbed together with miles of co-ax cable and wire.