The borders of Europe seem to move and fade as the centuries pass, but the cultures remain rich and diverse, steeped in tradition and mystery. The Bezemer family roots have been firmly planted in the rich history of Holland since the 16th century, but Hans fell in love with the city of Berlin on his first visit. So it seems serendipitous that a young writer adrift in his twenties found his second home in a city long divided, and Hans returned there year after year to make sense of a city and young mind in transition through a rare gift for writing prose. Without intention, his prose evolved to capture the heart of East-West Berlin, a city he says, is gone and only lives in memory.

The story of "Night Train to Berlin" could be situated in the late fifties, early sixties when trains from West to East were still labeled "Interzone Zug". It took 5 hours or more to get there from Hannover. Not much changed until the early nineties when the (West) Germans renovated the tracks, so trains could do about 80 miles per hour instead of the usual 40. You can get there now in about 2 hours.

International trains halted at Friedrichstraße in those days and you were greeted with "Willkommen in der Hauptstadt der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik" (Welcome to the capital of the German Democratic Republic). They could hardly say "Berlin", cause it was only one half of that city. "East Berlin" was out of the question too, because that would indicate there was a West Berlin that they didn't want to recognize. If they referred to West Berlin, they even wrote "Westberlin", so it looked like an ordinary cityname, not the name of a divided city.

Yeah, Berlin was a pretty weird place; I loved it. A great place when you're young and know the rules. You can't go there anymore. That city is gone and only lives in memory.

I'm very interested in the human experience. Its moments of loneliness, even when we share the room with other people. The incapacity to return to paradise. We frequently visit it, but we seem unable to stay there. Not why we are not allowed to, but why we keep leaving it.


Born in 1960, Hans Bezemer earned his masters degree in Biology and Geography in Delft, Holland. A successful software developer, he has published articles in international computer magazines and written notable computer programs and manuals. He is interested in theoretical physics, philosophy, methodology, which is not only helpful in his current profession as computer management consultant, but also greatly influences his writing.

Hans published his first book of fiction entitled A Shadow in the Rain in 1999. It is printed in German Ein Schatten im Regen and Dutch Een schaduw in de regen.

Fluent in three languages, Hans often finds himself in a dilemma of words ....

Translations of prose can be correct and skillfully executed. Still, reading each version of the same work, there is a slight difference in atmosphere. The English is poetic, the Dutch version has a slight matter-of-fact-ness and the German version is harsher. You have more pity with the man in the English version than the German version. I see no way to correct that.

I once read "On the Road" in Dutch. I hated the book, found it boring. It had completely lost its poetic qualities. I can no better describe what it is to be European. On one hand, you have the richness of all these cultures combined. On the other hand, you're unable as a writer to translate those feelings and concepts fully into another culture and you feel lacking. Like brushes and paints that are perfect in their own right, but cannot be combined, like water colors with oil paint. You can envision this painting, but only in your own mind. I know of only one sentence that is truly European:

"Adieu, sweet Bahnhof."

It's perfect.

Hans lives in the Hague, but regards himself a 'free time' Berliner.