Locations Outside Berlin

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Rugen
East Germany's largest island, on the Baltic (or Ostsee) coast. Müller, Tilsner and Schmidt stay at a union rest house in the resort of Sellin,
Sellin GDR-era postcard

famous for its pier (Seebrücke in German). I was inspired to use Rugen as a location after talking to a BBC World Service journalist who was brought up there in the GDR era. 

Rugen is also the site of Prora
Prora
-- Hitler's massive, unfinished, holiday camp, which was later used to house East German construction soldiers. I've set the fictional Jugendwerkhof Prora Ost inside the monolithic building. 


Other Rugen locales which feature in the novel include: the island of Vilm, which was used by the East German leadership and closed to the public; the Russian naval base at Klein Zicker(although I've invented a fictional base at nearby Gross Zicker instead); and the new port at Sassnitz (although this was actually constructed later than the period in which the novel is set).  

The Harz Mountains

The Harz are dominated by northern Germany's highest mountain, The Brocken,
The Brocken in winter
which towers to over 1000 metres, and which features in Goethe's Faust, where witches dance on the summit on Walpurgisnacht. Perched on the summit are the various aerials and domes of what was the Communist East's main listening station. 


In the GDR era the Harz were split in two by the Inner German Border, which ran to the west of the Brocken, where the fictional silver mine is located in the novel. 

Wernigerode in 1951
You can catch a narrow gauge steam train up the Brocken from either Schierke which features in the novel, or from various points along the track from its starting point in Wernigerode. But be warned, it's expensive. More than 30 euros per adult at the start of 2014 and it's no cheaper from Schierke. All the towns and villages of the Harz are pretty, and Wernigerode has a particularly excellent central market place.