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The House at the Bridge Hardcover – 2 Jul 1994

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall & IBD; First Printing edition (2 July 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684194007
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684194004
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 2.8 x 24 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,650,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


An American descendant of its German-Jewish owners relates the history of a house near Berlin, from Nazi occupation to the fall of the Berlin wall.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Subtle But Worth it 31 July 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Having lived in Germany before, during and after the wall went down,
The House At The Bridge encapsulizes succinctly the emotions of change
that I, and others, saw and felt during Germany's paradigm shift of
politics and society. This story isn't just about a house, but of
families and a country in transition. Ms. Hafner cleverly uses the
house as a common thread to tell the history behind the house's
inhabitants and the political changes that effected them. The
comparisons between (former) East and West Germany are poignant and
real. Any history lover, travel buff or architect(professional or
amateur) will be pleasantly surprised by the story this house tells.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A Helluva book 17 Oct 2000
By Richard in Rhinebeck - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you're interested in getting to the belly of the beast, in this case, the finger-nail crud of unification, look to Katie's absolutely bottom-line insights into the east German perspective. The house is still there, hard by the two-taxi stand as you come across the bridge, ironically just down the wooded lane from where they signed the Potsdam Agreement, and, in its crumbling, grafitti-stained magnificence, it can be seen, if you wish, as some sort of symbol, of what's gone wrong, and what's gone right. with the "new" Germany. The book tells a wonderful tale of brick and mortar and the dreams and ambition it contained. Rarely does the door to a complex turning open so joyously and so widely. Read it and learn how it is.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Heimat 2 Jan 2006
By Mary E. Sibley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The property is located in Potsdam. It was the summer house of the Wallichs. After reunification the house still stood. Hermann Wallich had been a banker and an assimilationist. By 1911 the fortune of the Wallichs was thirty one million reichmarks.

Hermann's son Paul and his daughter-in-law became enchanted with the house at Potsdam. During World War II the house served as a library for the Nazis and later as a hospital for wounded Russian soldiers. Paul Wallich committed suicide in 1938. The house was in the Russian sector. During the war three servants stayed in the house. Afterwards, in East Germany, the remaining servant was ordered to leave.

Next the house was used as a kindergarten, such use lasting for some forty years. There were five day a week boarders, the children of socially irresponsible citizens. After the wall went up, the director of the kindergarten began to scheme to leave the country. In 1961 barbed wire went up, seemingly overnight.

The bridge, the Glienicke Bridge, near the house became famous for the exchange of spies. The bridge had first gone up in 1660. Structures near the house were torn down to give the guards a better view in the border zone. The East German childcare system became vast as childbirth was encouraged and it was necessry for mothers to work.

The books shifts its focus from the kindergarten director to a young teacher, Ulrike. Ulrike was friends with Wolfgang, a Marxist dissident who followed a sort of socialist third way. (In East Germany a third of the citizens had Stasi files.)

The night the wall fell Ulrike and her husband were at home with friends playing Irish music. The following day Ulrike walked to her school amid euphoric people. Afterwards the first few weeks were dreamlike. Ulrike and her husband visited the West. Reunification took place in October 1990. Earlier there was a currency union. There were Trabi jokes. Ossies and Wessies were not getting along with each other.

Return of property became a central and contentious debate after unification. Claims started to arrive by the tens of thousand for property lost between 1933 and 1945. What belonged to whom became a matter of central importance. One of the Wallich sons, Henry, had been at Yale and had been on the Federal Reserve Board. His daughter, Christine, was interested in the house at Potsdam. Land registries became artifacts of a capitalist past in East Germany after 1950. The Nazis had kept meticulous records of the deportation of Jewish families.

There were very old trees on the property of the Potsdam house. A scholar sought information on the gardens' original design. The scholar of landscape architecture found the plans of Gustav Meyer. Dirk Heydemann published a one hundred fifty page paper on the garden's design. The Wallich heirs did get their property returned to them. The house is in a state of extreme disrepair. The Wallichs are considering offers to sell the property to developers. The go-go time of real estate fortunes in the early nineties in the vicinity of Berlin has passed.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Great Book 4 Sep 2011
By Stephen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a great read. I was drawn in from start to finish. It is a great way to tell the story of Germany though the experiences of a house.
The House at The Bridge 29 Dec 2013
By Nancy Long - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This well written book has personal meaning to me. I have purchased three of the book, and wish to purchase one more please. The 1990's Germany was depicted extremely well. I am interested in the house, and more of it's history before this story.
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