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This series of six books is set (mostly) in Berlin in the period 1938 to 1948.


The books in order are:

Zoo Station

Silesian Station

Stettin Station

Potsdam Station

Lehrter Station

Masaryk Station.


Although originally about John Russell the scope of the books changed and Russell's girlfriend Effi Koenen featured more heavily.

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Zoo Station.


John Russell is a freelance English journalist based in Berlin in 1938. His German ex-wife and son also live in Berlin as does his actress girlfriend Effi Koenen.


Asked to write a series of articles for Pravda in order to prepare Soviet citizens for the forthcoming Nazi-Soviet pact, Russell is soon drawn into spying for the Soviets. And the British. He also becomes involved in helping a Jewish family leave Germany. All while trying not fall foul of the authorities.


This first book in the series is enjoyable entertainment.

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Zoo Station.


John Russell is a freelance English journalist based in Berlin in 1938. His German ex-wife and son also live in Berlin as does his actress girlfriend Effi Koenen.


Asked to write a series of articles for Pravda in order to prepare Soviet citizens for the forthcoming Nazi-Soviet pact, Russell is soon drawn into spying for the Soviets. And the British. He also becomes involved in helping a Jewish family leave Germany. All while trying not fall foul of the authorities.


This first book in the series is enjoyable entertainment.

Have read a couple of the series, forget which ones but know I enjoyed them, read them on your recommendation Tag.

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Silesian Station.


Berlin the summer of 1939. john Russell, now with an American passport, travels around Europe trying to satisfy the conflicting requests of the American's who are trying to set up potential resistance contacts shoudl there be a war; the SD who want to pass false information to the NKVD/GRU and the Soviets who want to pass flase questions back to the SD. Meanwhile a Jewish girl travelling to berlin on her own has gone missing.


The build up  to war is depressing in its familiarity. 60+ years later and things still seem the same.

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Stettin Station.


Set at the end of 1941. John Russell is still working as a correspondent in Berlin and freelancing as an intermediary between US officials and the Abwher. He is also investigating the Jewish transports via communist contacts working on the railways. Effi Koenen plays a much larger part in this novel and finally comes into her own as the story evolves.

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Potsdam Station.


It is now 1945 and the war is nearly over.

John Russell has swapped his role as a war correspondent following Eisenhower’s army to travel to Moscow in hopes of joining the Red Army’s capture or Berlin so he can try to find Effi and his son, Paul.

Paul Gehrts (Russell’s son) is in the German Army opposing the Russian advance.

Effi Koenen is still in Berlin. She helps guide people as part of an escape network.


This novel is highlights the horrors of the final weeks of the war. The fanaticism of those who defended Berlin to the end. Shooting anyone who they felt had deserted the cause. Destroying food stocks to deny the Russians (and hence their fellow countrymen). Destroying evidence (and Jews) before the defeat. The fate of Berlin’s women, who were raped in their thousands by the Russian soldiers. It’s all pretty horrific.

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Lehrter Station.


December 1943.


John Russell and Effi Keonen are living in a depressingly foggy London. With them are Russell’s son Paul and Effi’s sister Zarah with her son Lothar.


When Russell receives an offer to work for the NKVD in Berlin – supposedly feeding dodgy data to the Americans – he and Effi return to Berlin.


This books explores issue such as the Jewish escape-line to Palestine; the Polish expulsion of ethnic Germans; the US maltreatment of concentration camp survivors, their subsequent maltreatment of all Germans; the French and British subjugation by the Americans; the indifference of a world already ready for the new war between capitalism and communism; and the fact that even though a war had just ended, people hadn’t learned anything.


Very good!!!

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Masaryk Station


The last book in the series.

Set in 1948. John Russell is still working for both CIC (before they were taken over by CIA) and MGB (after they were NKVD and before they were KGB). Travelling acroos Euroope trying to satisfy neither master while satisfying both masters. Effi Koenen is trying avoid working on a propaganda film for the Societs. The situation in Berlin is getting more tense. The Berlin sige and airlift is imminent.


This books explores eastern Europe's descent in to the USSR's version of communism and the complicity of the USA in that process. It is an excellent end to the series.


Some quotes:


"War is just a word for what peace can't conceal" – unattributed poem.

"...he was suffering from political indigestion. "

"The Nazis made everyone else look good for a few years, but now they’re gone, and we’re back with crap meets crap."

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  • 6 years later...

There may be a thread about some of the books in this series but I failed to find any.

David Downing has written seven books featuring John Russell and Effi Koenen.

Zoo Station, Silesian Station, Stetting Station, Potsdam Station, Lehrter Station, Masaryk Station and a prequel Wedding Station.

The series starts in Berlin the days leading up to WWII and continues through the war up to the Berlin blockade.
John is an English journalist with a German ex-wife and son.  Effi is a German actress.  The stories tell of the compromises and sacrifices the two have to make (together and separately) to survive Nazi Germany, the war and post war intrigues with Soviet and American intelligence services.

I have now read the whole series three or four times.  It is easy reading but immensely enjoyable.


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