Berlin by rail: a cold-war adventure

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Taking the sleeper train to Berlin, the writer and his teenage son explore the city’s fascinating legacy, eerie buildings, war relics and stunning street art

Eagle-eyed football fans heading to Berlin’s Olympiastadion for the Euros may spot what looks like an abandoned space station topped with four enormous white orbs on a hill a mile or so south of the ground.

The stadium – which will host the Euro 2024 final – has a more storied past than perhaps any other. Built by the Nazis for the 1936 Berlin Olympics, the great African American sprinter Jesse Owens won four gold medals here in front of a watching Adolf Hitler, single-handedly debunking the Führer’s myth of Aryan supremacy.

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