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PN Review 276
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This article is taken from PN Review 276, Volume 50 Number 4, March - April 2024.

Last Exit for the Revolution Rod Mengham
In May of 2023 I looked inside the psyche of the GDR and saw its dying visions. The architectural cranium where this mirage lingers is a building the size of a power station, looming over the hamlet of Bad Frankenhausen in the state of Thuringia. Its location is not easy to access, or even find. The last stage of a thirty-six-hour journey from Harwich involves a very slow train from Erfurt to Heldrungen – where there is a halt, rather than a station – and then a bus ride (no. 491) that delivers small children to school and pensioners to the local GP. The terminus at Bad Frankenhausen is a lorry park on the last area of level ground before the southern slopes of the Kyffhäuser range lead up to the Schlachtberg, which is where the most quixotic art project ever conceived in Eastern Europe was finally installed in 1989, a mere eight weeks before the fall of the Berlin Wall.

I was seconded for this mission by Leo Mellor: Cambridge fixer, envoy of Welsh poetry – and psychopomp for the German weird. Leo had prepared a faultless itinerary, but there was no preparing for the off-piste, the unmapped yet very stubborn obstacles to any traveller in the communist afterlife.

The small town’s centre of gravity was downhill, but we needed to go up. We found the only cobbled street willing to oblige, and started to climb, alongside the most crooked church spire that either of us had ever seen (although it was only the second most crooked in Germany, we ...

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