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Christiane F. (born Vera Christiane Felscherinow on May 20, 1962) is a former heroin addict famous for her contribution to the autobiographical book Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo [We Children of Bahnhof Zoo], and the film based on the book, which describes her struggle with various forms of drug addiction during her teens.
Early life 
Christiane was born in Hamburg, but her family moved to West Berlin when she was a child. They settled in Gropiusstadt, a dreary neighborhood in Neukölln consisting mainly of high-rise concrete apartment blocks where social problems were prevalent. Christiane's father had a violent temper and frequently drank heavily and raged at his family, and her parents eventually divorced. When she was 12 years old, she began smoking hashish with a group of friends who were slightly older, at a local youth club. They gradually began experimenting with stronger drugs, such as LSD and various forms of pills, and she ended up trying heroin. By the time she was 14, she was a junkie and prostitute, mainly at the then-largest train station of West Berlin, Bahnhof Zoo. Here, she became part of a group of teen aged drug-users and prostitutes (of both sexes).
The making of Christiane F. 
The book 
Two journalists from the news magazine Stern, Kai Hermann and Horst Rieck, met Christiane in 1978 in Berlin when she was a witness in a trial against a man who paid underaged girls with heroin in return for sex. The journalists wanted to disclose the drug problem among teenagers in Berlin, which was severe but also surrounded by strong taboos. They arranged a two-hour interview with Christiane. The two hours ended up being two months, during which Christiane provided an in-depth description of a life with drugs and prostitution that she and other teenagers in West Berlin experienced in the 1970s. The journalists subsequently ran a series of articles about her addiction in Stern, based on tape recorded interviews with Christiane.
The interviews were extensive, and the Stern publishing house eventually decided to publish the successful book Christiane F. – Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo in 1979. The book chronicles her life from 1975 to 1978, when she was aged 12–15. The narrative of the book is in the first person, from Christiane's viewpoint, but was written by the journalists functioning as ghostwriters. Others, such as Christiane's mother, and various people who witnessed the escalating drug situation in Berlin at the time, also contributed to the book. It depicts several of Christiane's friends along with other drug addicts, as well as scenes from typical locations of the drug scene in Berlin.
The American issue of the book was released by Bantam in 1982 under the title Christiane F.: Autobiography of a Girl of the Streets and Heroin Addict (translated by Susanne Flatauer). (ISBN 0553208977)
The film 
In 1981, the story was made into a film directed by Uli Edel and produced by Bernd Eichinger and Hans Weth. Its title in Germany was Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo, and in English-speaking countries Christiane F. The screenplay was written by Herman Weigel. Christiane worked as an advisor for the film, but did not appear in it herself. Much of the movie is shot in the authentic gloomy surroundings of Gropiusstadt and Bahnhof Zoo. David Bowie, Christiane's favorite singer at the time of the story, appears as himself in a concert. Bowie also provided the music in the movie, released on the 1981 soundtrack album Christiane F.
After Christiane F. 
After the initial success of the book and the film, Christiane found herself becoming something of a celebrity, both in Germany and other countries in Europe. A subculture of teenage girls in Germany began to emulate her style of dress and to hang around the Bahnhof Zoo station, which became an unlikely tourist attraction. This development concerned experts on youth drug abuse, who feared that despite the film's bleakness and many sordid scenes (particularly those portraying the horrific realities of cold turkey), vulnerable teens might regard Christiane as a cult heroine and role model. The book sold so well (it was translated into most major West European languages) that Christiane is still able to support herself from the royalties.
In the early 1980s, Christiane released several records under the band-name Sentimentale Jugend in collaboration with her then-boyfriend Alexander Hacke, with whom she also appeared in the 1983 German film Decoder.
She lived in the United States and in Greece before returning to Germany in 1993. Through adulthood, Christiane has continued to struggle with drug addiction on several occasions. In 1994, she enrolled in a methadone programme, a course of action she has repeated several times since. At one point, she spent time in prison for drug-related offenses. She lived with her son (born 1996) in an apartment in Teltow. However, in 2008, she moved to Amsterdam with her son and reportedly fell back into drug abuse. As a consequence she temporarily lost custody of her son, who was taken from her by the authorities during a visit in Berlin in August 2008. According to reports in German media, she was seen about a month later, buying drugs at Kottbusser Tor, Berlin's current drug center. In late January 2011, Christiane was once again in contact with the police, when she had her bag searched during a drug raid at Moritzplatz, another Berlin train station known as a central point for drug trafficking. However the search did not reveal any drugs in her bag. Christiane still receives fan mail and is occasionally contacted by the German media, wanting to know how she is doing after all these years.
- "Gesundheit!" (12"), Posh Boy (1982)
- "CHRISTIANA - Final Church" (Maxi-single, 1982)
- "Wunderbar / Health Dub" (12"), Playhouse (2003)
- "Christiane F. Wir Kinder Vom Bahnhof Zoo RCA 43606 - David Bowie" (1981)