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Atta in Hamburg

Mohammed Atta cultivated an academic life, German friends and a terrorist network. How did this sterile city become the launch pad for 9/11?

By Elena Lappin   September 2002

Hamburg used to be known for such trivial charms as the Reeperbahn red-light district, and as the place where the Beatles had their first international success. It has long enjoyed the reputation of being a tolerant, prosperous, almost Scandinavian port city in Germany’s placid north, with a strong social democratic tradition and the half-justified conceit that Hitler never made it there. It is a city you neither love nor hate: you just take for granted its comforts and complain about its permanent cloak of cloud and rain. For me, Hamburg was the pleasant but sterile city where I spent my…

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