Originally from England, I moved to Berlin to work as a journalist before becoming a private tour guide in 2006. Specialising in Berlin's turbulent 20th century history, I have spent years working at the former East German secret police headquarters as a historical consultant and am also a licensed guide at the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial. Since 2014, I have served on the board of the Berlin Guides Association as Treasurer, Vice President and now President.
Although I specialise in 'Third Reich' era and 'Cold War' era Berlin, it would be impossible to understand these periods without the context of previous chapters in say Prussian and early medieval history. The narrative of the city - through the stories of its Jewish inhabitants, or the glitzy intoxicating glamour of 1970s West Berlin, the Brutalist architecture of the city, or say the grim realities the developments of the industrial revolution exacted on the city's working class - would be incomplete without these important details. No theme can be just that theme, as no story exists without its setting and characters. I've always considered tour guiding in Berlin to be a matter of journalism by another name; the conversations, the story-telling, the presentation, the editorial process, the performance - the pursuit of the truth. Naturally, one can't be a good journalist without being a good historian - and somewhere between those two things (with a touch of dramatic flair) is where the exceptional tour guide can be found. A gatekeeper in the pursuit of ideas.
I find Berlin is a city that has so much more to offer than 'fridge magnet tourism' - ticking boxes on a long list of must-see sights. Although exploring a city undoubtedly involves the pilgrimage to historically important locations - Berlin is a city that serves as more than the simple sum of its landmarks, and is best experienced that way. Tourism may well be the arena but I believe in guiding that education is the real intention. To dispel myths. Counter ignorance. Fortunately, in the context of guiding - where dialogue is paramount - these things are more easily realised than with other mediums. Although don't be deceived into thinking this might be a sombre affair; modern Berlin is not only a city demonstrably dealing with the weight of its history - but learning to live and surmount it. I believe the moral of the story here is one that is conclusively optimistic.
Come explore and find your Berlin.
A Recent Review of this guide
Matthew is a treasure, one of the best tours we have ever taken. He is a walking encyclopedia of German and world history, which dovetails well into the tour. Matthew seamlessly integrates old and new Berlin and is careful to move at your pace. He is so generous with his wealth of knowledge. You'll see well know sites but also some brilliant treasures that aren't in guidebooks. And he recommended dinner! Thank you Matthew for a lifetime of memories in just 3 hours - we can't wait to return to Berlin.
President - Berlin Guides Association (BBS)
Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial License
Former East German Secret Police Headquarters - Stasi Museum Docent
BA Journalism (Hons)
I am not a driver, but can arrange for a vehicle and driver at an additional cost - upon request.