Tiergarten, Benjamin, Barbecues & Isherwood

So much in what actually has been a very chill first week here….

Thursday and Friday were the first gos of several, I am sure, at the Walter Benjamin Archive and the Topography of Terror, the site of the National Socialist government buildings, like Gestapo HQ, etc. I laid my hands on the brick and tile of those Gestapo cells from their basements. There were many, many photos that I hadn’t seen: a couple in love at the beach under a ribbon of tiny nazi flags; a defiant woman, front of line marching strong, star on breast and a bunch of Gestapo men in dainty hats at a play-day outing. The city and the stones here vibrate.

You’ll see sections of the Berlin Wall which seem to be scattered a bit around the city. One large section runs along the northern perimeter of the Topography and another stands at the border by the former Checkpoint Charlie in Mitte.

Ended the day yesterday with a wonderful rooftop BBQ (who knew BBQ is huge in Berlin!) with impromptu singing of Sitting on the Dock of the Bay followed by fireworks over Kreuzberg in the Saturday night sky. Met lots of d.ps., editors, producer-types, ex-pats (hmmm….Chile is looking pretty good) and other interesting characters. That was after finding myself (by accident?) at the Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe and the Monument to the Murdered Homosexuals of Europe and a fab run all around the periphery of the Tiergarten. I know, I know but it is that kind of city. And one must enter, process and release some of it. The people around me here are teaching me that.

Today, was a good writing session (G.I. Joe, anyone?), followed by what I thought would be a relatively short hop out to one of WB’s residences here. But, of course, I remembered the address for the one in Charlottenburg which was his childhood home. This took me all the way past the end of the Kudam (Kurfürstendamm) which is celebrating 125 years (think Yorkdale/Avenue Road or a stretch of Wilshire in Beverly Hills or….you know, Fifth Ave. in NYC). Then, found a wonderful river behind that house at Delbruckstrasse 23 with crazy spiraled, water-logged branches and some kind of Art Prints“>black-black bumble bee with a bright red tail (common to this neck of the woods, but I’d never seen one). S/he burrowed into the ground as I watched. Huh. Then, found my way back to the U-bahn (a metro line) and over to Nollendorferstrasse where Christopher Isherwood wrote Berlin Stories (a.k.a. Caberet). Great, fresh Vietnamese soup, a couple of Hefeweisen and I am back home to upload these pictures, read some more Benjamin and watch my new friend, Ute’s documentary on girls in the Ulm (Germany) Hitler Youth movement, their Jewish friends and Sophie Scholl (the German school-girl Nazi resister). Ute got all the girls together and interviewed them in the 90s. This film, Kinderland, Cinderland played at Hot Docs..enjoy the photos….

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~ by Thom on May 8, 2011.

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