Berlin is best known now for techno, but in the 1980s it was punk’s primitive force that prevailed, beamed over the Wall to East Berlin by Western radio. How much this actually contributed to November 1989’s ‘Mauerfall’ is debatable, but Tim Mohr, who spent the early 1990s in the once divided city, DJing in squatted buildings, makes a convincing case for the movement’s influence. Based on numerous interviews with participants, his gripping history, written much like a novel, is a stark, timely reminder of music’s power to protest and transform.
Emphasising the dropouts’ growing ties to organised resistance, he depicts a tightly knit community threatened only by skinheads and, well, the country’s entire government, with the terrible injustices and covert practices of the Stasi, the DDR’s secret police, unflinchingly detailed.
There’s an inevitability to the tale, of course, but Mohr offers up fresh perspectives which also provide reminders that many East Germans merely wanted a more democratic system, not reunification, which is a source of some of Germany’s current difficulties.