a hundred years of history
A HOUSE THROUGH TIME - IN BERLIN In the pattern of David Olusoga’s history-telling through the prism of one house, the story of “The House By The Lake” on Gross Glienicke lake unveils 100 years of German history from 1890 to the present day. More than that, it is a biography of the author’s family; (Published 2015 by Windmill; shortlisted for the Costa Biography Prize 2015 and longlisted for the Orwell Prize in 2016)
Thomas Harding’s grandmother had owned this house on the outskirts of Berlin before being forced to flee when the Nazis came to power in 1930s. From the 19th century onwards we meet its occupants: a nobleman farmer, a prosperous Jewish family, a renowned Nazi composer, a widow and her children and a Stasi informant from the period the house resided in communist East Germany - the Berlin Wall had cut straight across the garden.
Through the interest his research inspired locally, Thomas Harding was able to save the house by the lake, which had fallen into disrepair, from demolition. More than that, in 2014 the author was present when the state of Brandenburg declared the house a national memorial. The house had weathered political and personal storms, had sheltered contented family life, had withstood two world wars and the dividing of a nation. Fittingly, it was the author who hammered in the nails to fix the “Denkmal” plaque onto his grandmother’s abandoned home.