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These days, tourism is worth about $15 billion and 230,000 jobs to Berlin, Germany, and with 20 million annual hotel stays the city jumped past Rome last year to become the third most visited European city, trailing only Paris and London. For a town that has struggled economically since the fall of The Wall, this might sound like welcome news. And it is for tourism industry types, but not for a lot of other Berliners, where low-cost bohemianism has practically defined Berlin, whose mayor famously described it as “poor but sexy.” The tourism boom has become such a problem for locals that today, the German capital is practically covered with stickers declaring “Berlin doesn’t heart U” and posters warning “Tourists face fists!” And there have even been public calls for attacks on the tourism industry’s infrastructure there. (more…)

Posted: September 8th, 2011

cheese revolution

This story first appeared on

It was immediately obvious wandering through Berlin last weekend that the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall were in trouble.

In Alexanderplatz subway station, the main eastern transport hub, wall-sized billboards advertising the Fest der Freiheit — Festival of Freedom — were side by side with huge Burger King ads for a new grilled cheese snack. The tag line: “The Cheese Revolution.” (more…)

Posted: November 13th, 2009


One of the great ironies of the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago is that the East German protest leaders who led the uprising did not want unification with West Germany.


Posted: November 9th, 2009