It is good to be in Berlin again, after what seems too long a time. It is more crowded than I remember it. I am staying in Winters Hotel, right at the site of the former Wall – which gives me a chance to visit the various Wall memorials and associated installations and reenactments, such as Yadegar Asisi’s amazing DIE MAUER, a huge historical panorama of a section of the divided city, and the would-be guards standing at Checkpoint Charlie, always ready to take a photo with cheerful tourists. If you want, you can go up in a huge balloon moored to the ground, and enjoy an aerial panorama to complement the virtual one provided by Asisi, and if you have had enough of museums such as the Black Box and the Mauermuseum, then you can hire a Trabi and cough and splutter a stinking trail down the Wilhelmstrasse. The Wall has everything: it has high political deception and unintended irony (was it Ulbricht who said “no-one intends to build a war” and “the wall will stand for 50 or 100 years until the circumstances that gave rise to it cease to be”, clearly not meaning by “circumstances” the existence of the GDR!). It has heroic tales of rescue and imaginative tales of flight, as well as tragic ones of failed escape attempts. The larger tale ends happily, with the fall of said Wall, and this time there is no need to build an economic miracle from the rubble, you simply open up the east Germans to the real existing miracle in the west. The sacrifice of individual life, documented to assiduously at several points in Berlin, was terrible, but each death served to weaken the Wall just that little bit more, and in the end, the mass of east Germans smashed their way to freedom (more or less). The 17 June 1953 memorial which commemorates the uprisings in the GDR just a short distance away tells the same story, ending happily with the ‘Wende’ and reunifcation, whose dynamic is inscribed retrospectively into the actions of the protesters of 1953. The story told over at the Holocaust memorial does not have a happy ending, of course. Any such suggestion would be an insult to the dead. That is probably why people were thronging in huge numbers around Checkpoint Charlie, but not at the Holocaust memorial when I visited it. And of course the numbers of deaths at the Wall are not so enormous or the activities of the Stasi not so uniformly terrible as to make the GDR appear as bad as the Nazi regime, which allows a little scope for nostalgic Trabi rides, GDR breakfast menus (especially GDR rolls) and other GDR memorabilia shops. Imagine if a visit to the Holocaust memorial were rounded off by a trip in a cattle truck or an offer of a KZ breakfast. As you are leaving Asisi’s panorama, on the inside of the exit door, you see advertisements offering you a nice ice cream now you have got the Wall behind you. Unthinkable, this, as you leave the Place of Information on the Holocaust memorial. Ice-cream and mass death don’t combine as well as ice-cream and the Wall, so it seems. Indeed, Checkpoint Charlie is stuffed to the hilt with stalls offering sausages, beer, pizza, noodles, so to the appeal of heroic rescue and escape, ultimate victory and nostalgia we can add the lure of food and drink, none of which is deemed inappropriate. The Wall lends itself to commodification, the Holocaust does not. Thanatourism, we read, is in. It might be, but every bit of death needs to be leavened with a bit of life. That’s why the Wall story is good for the tourists. If we are thinking Freud, then why not erotourism, if Eros is the life drive? Escape stories over or under the Wall were sometimes motivated by or associated with personal romance tales. But there is a bigger impulse for erotourism: the Wall was a barrier between two frustrated halves that belonged together, its overcoming – as we know from Thomas Brussig – was all about sexuality, and the wonderful of embrace of east and west that resulted surely gives the erotourist a thrill. That the love match was not a match made in Heaven – well, we know that, but don’t we all like to think back to those moments before the arguments began that set walls between us? Inner walls. Harder to break down than the concrete ones.