My Dear Germany,

It is nearly two years since I wrote to congratulate you on the 25th anniversary of your unity and much has happened in that time.

Most importantly I had the joy of visiting you for four days in March this year. For the first time I was able to spend time in Berlin, walking and looking and eating and drinking and talking and absorbing as much of this great city as I could.

There is something unique in all cities and each has its own special atmosphere but in Berlin I saw something I have never seen before. When visitors come to our cities they can be seen chasing the ’sights‘, seeing all of the great buildings and spaces of which they have heard so much. In Berlin, much of what we come to experience is the presence of absence, the large parts of the city that are gone, the site of a bunker that doesn’t exist, a memorial with only a geometrical, sculptural presence defining spaces not just forms and of course a wall that is almost entirely not there. It is a lovely idea, to come and see what is not there.

So, I have done what I said. I have visited you again and for longer and I will be coming back now that I know what awaits me and what a warm welcome I will receive.

I will see you soon my friend.

Martin

Bunbury, Cheshire, England 11th April 2017

About the Author: Martin Stockley was born in 1954 and grew up amidst the debris of post WWII bomb damage in Stratford, East London, the second son of London born parents.  He has spent all of his working life as an engineer, designing infrastructure, buildings, streets and public spaces, fueled by a compulsive interest in the socio-cultural and economic behaviour of cities and places.  Having spent two and a half years living and working in the centre of Moscow he currently lives with his wife and daughter in Bunbury, England, where he has had a home since 1996.  He continues to provide consultancy advice, coaches a full-time athlete and is in the process of self-building a new home in the centre of Birmingham.

Photo: Martin Stockley, 1962