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Checkpoint Charlie

Checkpoint Charlie

An excerpt from the novel Combat Camera by A.J. Somerset, winner of the 2009-2010 Metcalf-Rooke Award.

Photograph by Rozanne Hakala.

All through eighty-nine the big story was Eastern Europe. I was in Hungary that fall, where the Communists simply gave up and there was nothing to photograph. From Budapest I travelled back to the NATO side, to West Germany. The East German government was losing its grip. Things were tense. People with power don't let go so easy. We used to talk about the curtain going up, and I was thinking that if the curtain went up now, well, that would be my last war. No need to open the shutter to catch that flash.

You have to understand, in 1989 the East Germans were still shooting people who tried to get over the wall. In February that year, they shot a man eleven times for trying to get to the west. His name was Chris Gueffroy, and he was twenty-one years old. He bled ...

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