In the ninth installment in the series looking at the world of James Bond, we visit Germany...

The World Of James Bond - Germany
8th February 2005

After the ordeal in Switzerland in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, James Bond arrives in Munich from Zurich. Counting down the days to his wedding, he is met at the airport by Tracy, who drives him to her “favourite hotel in the world”, the Vier Jahreszeiten. The Vier Jahreszeiten (Maximilianstrasse 17) is Germany’s most famous hotel and supposed to be one of the finest hotels in the world. Since opening in 1858, it has been home from home to many VIPs, Royalty and heads of state and its rooms and suites combine the charm of days gone by with modern luxuries.

Once in the hotel, Tracy changes the dressings on Bond’s wounds and then chatters excitedly about their forthcoming wedding. However, Bond has something else on his mind. “‘Drinks,’ said Bond firmly. ‘We’ve got all the time in the world to talk about love.’ - ‘You are a pig,’ she said indignantly.”

Following the hotel bar, Bond’s plan is to dine at Walterspiel’s “to talk about rings… and other exciting things to do with being married”. You can no longer find Walterspiel’s, but it had an excellent reputation and was located in the hotel.

Above: The Vier Jahreszeiten in Munich

And so James Bond gets to work “searching the antique shops for an engagement and a wedding ring. The latter was easy, the traditional plain gold band, but Tracy couldn’t make up her mind about the engagement ring and finally dispatched Bond to find something he liked”. Hiring a taxi driven by en ex-Luftwaffe pilot, “Bond found what he wanted – a baroque ring in white gold with two diamond hands clasped. It was graceful and simple and the taxi-man was also in favour, so the deal was done and the two men went off to celebrate at the Franziskaner Keller, where they ate mounds of Weisswurst and drank four steins of beer each”. Franziskaner Keller (Hochstrasse 7) is supposedly the oldest restaurant in Munich and known for serving tradition German fare. Returning to the hotel, Tracy loves the ring, but exclaims ‘Oh, James, you are so bad. You stink like a pig of beer and sausages. Where have you been?’


The following morning, “a crystal-clear New Year’s Day”, James Bond and Tracy were married “in the British Consul General’s drawing room”. After a short ceremony they head towards Kitzbühel in Austria in Tracy’s Lancia.

Taking a relaxed pace to enjoy the route, they are joined on the road by a red Maserati, which then starts to overtake them. Suddenly the “windscreen of the Lancia disappeared as if hit by a monster fist. Bond caught a glimpse of a taut, snarling mouth under a syphilitic nose, the flash-eliminator of some automatic gun being withdrawn, and then the red car was past and the Lancia was going like hell off the verge across a stretch of snow and smashing a path through a young copse.”

The next thing Bond knows is when he is shaken into consciousness by a member of the Autobahn Patrol, whose “young face was stark with horror.”

“Bond turned towards Tracy. She was lying forward with her face buried in the ruins of the steering-wheel. Her pink handkerchief had come off and the bell of golden hair hung down and hid her face. Bond put his arm around her shoulders, across which the dark patches had begun to flower… ‘It’s quite all right. She’s having a rest. We’ll be going on soon. There’s no hurry. You see –‘ Bond’s head sank down against hers and he whispered into her hair – ‘you see, we’ve got all the time in the world.’”

In the short story The Living Daylights, James Bond is sent to West Berlin to foil the assassination of a double agent who is crossing from the east, by shooting a Russian sniper known only as “Trigger”.

Arriving in Berlin, we immediately get an idea of the city at the height of the cold war: “The ugly six-storey building at the corner of Kochstrasse and the Wilhelmstrasse was the only one standing in a waste of empty bombed space. Bond paid off his taxi and got a brief impression of waist-high weeds and half-tidied rubble walls stretching away to a big deserted crossroads lit by a central cluster of yellowish arc lamps”.

Above: The location of the ugly six-storey building. Note the location of Checkpoint Charlie and the Berlin Wall (dashed line parallel to Zimmerstrasse

The story is set in 1960, a year before construction of the Berlin Wall was started to prevent the flow of refugees to the west and when American and Russian tanks stood face-to-face at Checkpoint Charlie.

Above: 1960s West Berlin

Bond is not happy with his assignment and “had always found Berlin a glum, inimical city varnished on the Western side with a brittle veneer of gimcrack polish, rather like the chromium trim on American motor-cars”. This last comment is intended to be tongue-in-cheek, as Ian Fleming owned American cars from 1955 onwards – his first Ford Thunderbird was bought with the proceeds from the sale of the film rights to Casino Royale for £6,000.

Being a short story, and due to the fact that the action takes place in and around that ugly six-storey building, we don’t get to see much of Berlin.

We have the details of his first day when Bond “walked to the Kurftürstendamm, sat in the Café Marquardt, drank an espresso and moodily watched the obedient queues of pedestrians waiting for the ‘Go’ sign on the traffic lights”.

Bond is killing time during the day, as the double agent will make his attempt at crossing on one of three nights, between six and seven in the evening and while sitting in the café tries to decide what to do with his afternoon.

“It finally came down to a choice between that respectable-looking brownstone house in the Clausewitzstrasse, known to all concierges and taxi-drivers, or a trip to the Wannsee and a strenuous walk in the Grunewald. Virtue triumphed”.

Above: Checkpoint Charlie

After walking for two hours he finds a restaurant by the lake. To prove that he is not too virtuous, Bond orders “a double portion of matjes herrings smothered in cream and onion rings, and two ‘Molle mit Korn’, the Berlin equivalent of a ‘boiler-maker and his assistant’ – schnapps, doubles, washed down with draught Löwenbräu”.

Above: The famous sign displayed at Checkpoint Charlie.

That evening, waiting for the appearance of the defecting agent, Bond watches a woman’s orchestra enter the building where he expects the soviet sniper to be (it is the building for the Ministry of Culture, after all).

Watching through his Sniperscope he sees a girl carrying a cello case: “The girl was taller than the others and her long, straight, fair hair, falling to her shoulders, shone like molten gold under the arcs at the intersection” and after she disappears from his sight he realises that he has become obsessed by her. Still behind his rifle and Sniperscope, Bond can’t get her out of his head.

Wondering why she had chosen the cello he decides that there “was something almost indecent in the idea of that bulbous, ungainly instrument between her splayed thighs. Of course Suggia had managed to look elegant, and so did that girl Amaryllis somebody. But they should invent a way for women to play the damned thing side-saddle”. Once again this story demonstrates the lighthearted side to Fleming, “that girl Amaryllis somebody” was Amaryllis Fleming, his half sister fathered by the artist Augustus John.

The agent fails to appear that evening and we are told that the “next day, and the next night-watch, were duplicates, with small variations, of the first”, so that “James Bond crammed the third day with an almost lunatic programme of museums, art galleries, the zoo and a film, hardly perceiving anything he looked at”.

Of course, the final evening sees the appearance of the defecting agent and James Bond finally gets his chance to do the job and leave that glum city.

Above: Amaryllis, half sister of Ian Fleming

"The World Of James Bond" will visit Japan next month...

Article by David Leigh.