Read Brandenburg Online

Authors: Henry Porter

Tags: #Fiction - Espionage, #Suspense



Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page



Chapter 1 - Edge of the Void

Chapter 2 - Blackout

Chapter 3 - Kafka’s Message

Chapter 4 - The Song Bird

Chapter 5 - A House in the Forest

Chapter 6 - Night Inquiry

Chapter 7 - Dresden

Chapter 8 - By the Elbe

Chapter 9 - An Axe to the Frozen Sea

Chapter 10 - Clara Zetkin Park

Chapter 11 - Berlin


Chapter 12 - The West

Chapter 13 - Konrad

Chapter 14 - A Picnic

Chapter 15 - The Men from London

Chapter 16 - The Return

Chapter 17 - Konrad’s Words

Chapter 18 - A Deal with the Russian

Chapter 19 - A Little Static

Chapter 20 - The Nikolaikirche

Chapter 21 - Sublime No. 2

Chapter 22 - Escape


Chapter 23 - Termination

Chapter 24 - Plans Laid

Chapter 25 - Oratorio

Chapter 26 - The Miracle of Leipzig

Chapter 27 - Flight

Chapter 28 - A Call to Poland

Chapter 29 - A New Traitor

Chapter 30 - Family Photographs

Chapter 31 - Limbo

Chapter 32 - Stasi Storehouse

Chapter 33 - A Battle Won

Chapter 34 - Dark Energy

Chapter 35 - The Prison Walls

Chapter 36 - Larsen Trap

Chapter 37 - A Magnificent Blunder

Chapter 38 - The Gate

Chapter 39 - The Cafe Adler

Chapter 40 - The Bridge

Author’s Note



Critical acclaim for Henry Porter


‘Cogent, angry, stylish and informed . . . His take on postwar Germany is sober, truthful, anxious and well remembered’

Literary Review

Empire State

‘An espionage novel needs a big set-piece opening, and this is one of the best I’ve read for ages . . . Like the best espionage writers, Porter is an expert at spinning plates . . . Porter gives you everything you want’

William Leith, Daily Telegraph

‘A powerful, propulsive piece of thriller writing’

Peter Guttridge, Observer

Empire State
is tightly written, well-paced and cleverly constructed. The backgrounds are well done . . . refreshingly well-written’

Charles Mitchell, Spectator

A Spy’s Life

‘Magnificent . . . [he has] learned the oldest lesson: that characterisation and narrative are all’


‘As with his first thriller,
Remembrance Day
, Porter demonstrates great technical ingenuity . . . Yet this is embedded in a complex web of emotional relationships . . . Porter has proved that he is a torchbearer in a great tradition’

Christopher Silvester, Sunday Express


Henry Porter has written for most national broadsheet newspapers. He was editor of the Atticus column on the Sunday Times, moving to set up the Sunday Correspondent magazine in 1988. He contributes commentary and reportage to the Guardian, Observer, Evening Standard and Sunday Telegraph. He won the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for
in 2005. He is the British editor of the American magazine Vanity Fair and divides his time between New York and London.








First published in Great Britain in 2005 by Orion
This ebook first published in 2010 by Orion Books

Copyright © Henry Porter 2005

The moral right of Henry Porter to be identified as the author
of this work has been asserted in accordance with the
Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher, nor to be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published without a similar condition, including this condition, being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

All the characters in this book are fictitious,
and any resemblance to actual persons,
living or dead, is purely coincidental.

A CIP catalogue record for this book
is available from the British Library.

eISBN : 978 1 4091 2356 9

This ebook produced by Jouve, France

The Orion Publishing Group Ltd
Orion House
5 Upper Saint Martin’s Lane
London WC2H 9EA

An Hachette UK Company






For Miranda and Charlotte with love

Edge of the Void

The man in the straw hat dogged his footsteps from the first, keeping his distance, yet never bothering to hide himself. Rosenharte saw him loitering outside the hotel when he checked in, then at the conference centre and later sitting at a cafe in Piazza dell’Unità, a mournful fellow with a washed-out face, who wore the hat unconvincingly on the back of his head as though he’d just won it in a shooting gallery.

At times he got so close that Rosenharte could see the ventilation holes in the side of the hat and a mark on the narrow brim. He wanted to be seen - that much was clear - and once or twice Rosenharte thought he was going to approach, but then he seemed to decide against it and darted away into a side street.

He wondered if the man was the visible part of the Stasi’s surveillance operation in Trieste, put on his tail to remind him of their presence. Though he didn’t need it; they had made it clear to him that the city would be saturated with officers. Everything he did would be watched.

Perhaps the man was being fielded by a Western agency as some kind of ploy to draw out the Stasi surveillance. But that didn’t make sense either. If the Americans or British were watching - which surely they were - they would know about the Stasi and include them in their calculations. Eventually he concluded that the straw hat was a detail, a side issue to something far more menacing.

He ignored the man and threw himself into the conference on the rise of artistic conscience in the late Renaissance, a theme that had drawn 150 academics from all over Europe. Between lectures and discussion groups, Dr Rudi Rosenharte explored the streets of the hot, carefree city that was so beautifully drenched in summer light. He took himself to the bars around the main square for cognac and espresso and watched the passing parade, marvelling at the unbelievable fullness and plenty of Italian life and - naturally - at the women. Even now his eyes were not dead to their charms, or to the contrast with life in East Germany where beauty was scorned as a bourgeois obsession and you couldn’t buy a lemon from one month to the next.

Yet never for a moment did he forget that he had been brought to Trieste to rendezvous with an old lover - a lover who he knew had been dead for the best part of fifteen years but who the Stasi believed was alive.

On his third day in Trieste she made contact. Inside an envelope containing the daily conference bulletin was a handwritten note from Annalise Schering, which instructed him to walk unaccompanied to the end of ‘Molo IV’ - Pier Number Four - in the Old Port, where she would be waiting in the early evening with chilled champagne. There was much to admire about the letter: the handwriting was perfect, the romantic urgency of the sentiments just right and the location exactly the sort of desolate, neglected place Annalise would have chosen. It was as if the authors had bottled and preserved her essence. He read it several times before using the house phone in the hotel lobby to call Colonel Biermeier of the Stasi Main Directorate for Foreign Intelligence, the HVA, who was running the operation in Trieste. Biermeier came to his hotel room to examine the letter just after three that afternoon.

‘It’s an obvious fake,’ Rosenharte insisted to the back of Biermeier’s head as he read it on the little balcony. ‘It’s a trap. They’re trying to trick us. We should go back and forget the whole thing.’

The colonel shook his head and turned to him, his unhealthy white face and brilliantined dark-grey hair shining in the sunlight. He blew out his cheeks and flapped the front of his jacket against the heat. Rosenharte wasn’t in the least fooled by these diversionary tactics. He returned a steady gaze, purposefully expelling the anxiety in his mind. Every pore of Biermeier leaked the Stasi odour, and Rosenharte briefly wondered how he had carried out so many operations in the West without being apprehended. ‘No, Comrade Doktor, this is no fake. The handwriting matches our samples exactly. We will go ahead as Brigadier-General Schwarzmeer has ordered.’

‘But if anything goes wrong, I’ll be held responsible. You’ve got my brother in jail and he’ll be punished. What justice is that?’

Biermeier smiled, came over to him and put an arm around his shoulder. ‘Go, Rosenharte. See what the woman has to say. We believe there’s much she can tell us.’ He paused. ‘Look, what’s the problem? You give her dinner, win her affections as only you know how, and bring her back to us. Take her to bed, Rosenharte. Make her yours again.’

Rosenharte let out a bitter laugh, momentarily recalling the ‘love tutorials’ of the Stasi spy school. ‘Make her yours again! You’re still living in the fifties, Colonel.’

‘You know what I mean. You were one of us before the Firm decided your talents lay elsewhere. You did this for a living. You, above anyone, know what to do with this woman. I don’t have to remind you that you have an obligation to the state equal to that of a serving officer.’

Rosenharte lit a Marlboro and inwardly grimaced. He hated the way the Stasi called themselves the Firm in imitation of the way the CIA used the word Company. ‘Then you’ll keep to our agreement and allow my brother Konrad and his family to go free if I meet her?’

Biermeier didn’t respond.

release them?’ Rosenharte persisted.

The colonel turned and permitted himself a nod - a deniable nod.

‘That’s a yes?’

Biermeier closed his eyes and nodded again.

‘I don’t want your people following me. Pier Four is deserted and very exposed. I went there earlier. She’ll spot anyone on my tail.’

‘That’s doubtless why she chose it. No, we won’t follow you. We’re relying on you to bring her to us. It’s all on your shoulders.’

There was a gentle knock at the door. Biermeier opened it to a young officer carrying a plastic bag. ‘This is Schaub. He will show you how to operate the listening device. We’ve got better equipment since you were in the service. You’ll be impressed how small it is.’

Rosenharte sat down on the bed heavily. ‘You expect me to seduce this woman wired up to Normannenstrasse?’

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