Today marks the 50th anniversary of the start of construction on the Berlin Wall, prompting Der Spiegel to assess how Germany is handling its Cold War legacy. Answer: With kitsch, and lots of it. Entrepreneurs have found ways to capitalize, primarily in irreverent ways. They're trying everything from guided tours in junky East German cars, to cheesy checkpoint reenactments, to dressing in costume (think Darth Vader or Mickey Mouse) and posing for photographs, a la Hollywood Boulevard. In short, Berlin and what remains of its wall are in danger of becoming a "Cold War Disneyland," writes Frank Hornig.
The lightheartedness of this budding tourism industry is difficult for many to reconcile with such a painful chapter in Germany's history, especially for those who lived through it. "The developments are creating a competition in the German capital between business and commemoration of sensitive events, tourist entertainment and a public culture of remembrance," writes Hornig. "At issue is who gets to tell the story of Germany's division—and which original locations in the city are used to convey it." They better figure it out fast: Last year, Berlin surpassed Rome to become Europe's third-most popular tourist destination.