Last month my wife and I traveled through East German territory to West Berlin, the same train ride which Jay Brunhouse described as "The Paranoia Express" (July 27). I'm afraid the paranoia is the writer's own. We found the East German officials who checked passports, issued transit visas and controlled tickets efficient and businesslike, though lacking in graciousness. They certainly did nothing to justify Brunhouse's statement that this train ride "offers possibly the most dramatic perspective on the world today."
The passengers did indeed not get out of their carriages to walk on the platform, but not "for fear that the guard dogs will take pieces out of them" but because transit trains make no stops allowing such walks between Marienborn and Griebnitzsee, the two stops where West and East German personnel board and leave the trains.
The overdramatic--indeed paranoid--style of the article, a carry-over from tired Cold War rhetoric, can only serve to subvert the relatively improved relations between the two Germanies which, initiated by Willy Brandt's ostpolitik, is still essentially intact today.
professor of history