Saddamski

An interesting trip to the former Iraqi Embassy in East Berlin, with photographs and text.
By Daniel West. Photography: Andreas Lux

An abandoned villa, one careful owner (deceased). Impossible to resist. So off we set, the two of us, tourists of the apocalypse.

In an overlooked corner of suburban Berlin, of course. A light industrial estate – innocuous. But you could see in a snap it had form. That unyielding Modernism, the crunch of glass underfoot as you mount the steps. An archtectural smoking gun.

Inside the once-plush carpets are caked in scum. Wallpaper limps off in sheets or arid cracks. A mosaic that has lost its own logic. Cramped rooms with no windows, one chair in each. Two disembowelled TVs. Like an open wound, we agreed

Planes passing overhead can’t drown out the echoes of bureaucracy. A solitary leather brogue, three copies of the FT from 1989, typewriters,

files, magnetic tape, a Japanese machine with two bulbs (they read “OPERATION” and “TROUBLE”).

 Elsewhere, domestic horror. Floral three-piece suite, Persian carpets, photographs of false Mesopotamian idols, an Air Algeria calendar. Prudish lace curtains barely concealing Saddam’s leg. Uncle Sam peeps in.

And what of all that shock and awe? But the exit is just empty bottles and spent fags like always. A tickertape washout for the comedown-cum-climbdown from hubris. An AfPak hangover full of party poopers, and the faint stench of shit.