berliner mauer 1961-1989

Just watched Matt Frei's first in a 3 parter on Berlin over on BBC4. I suppose it's about 8 years since I was last there. It's the most fascinating place.

It was hard to know what was old East and what was West. Most construction was was happening in the old East which made the Western sector look rather dilapidated . The grass wasn't cut, fountains weren't switched on, buildings were still pocked marked with shrapnel from WW2. They'd unceremoniously ripped the wall down, thrown up the sky scrapers and seemed hell bent on bankrupcy in the drive to reunify the city.

Karl Marx said “whoever controls Berlin… controls Europe”. Well, it's quite obvious that the German nation controls Berlin and it's very much in the European driving seat at the minute, again seemingly hellbent on unifying a disparate group of nations, whatever the cost.

I suppose it could simply pull up the drawbridge, readopt the Deutsche Mark and get back to where it was before this whole Euro project started spinning out of control. It must be tempted but there's obviously a deep seated urge in the German psyche to bring this collection of nations under some control. The last time Germany tried to unite Europe it did it by, well… non-negotiation. I'm not sure if this is just an alternative to the previous method, or in some way recompense for its past "mistakes". It's certainly a city that well versed in Nationalism and division but has a checkered past on the unification part.

It's a city that doesn't hang about. It doesn't hang onto to it's past too long, probably because of its checkered nature but also its nature to move on, as most world cities do.

I'd just started to get into photography back then (Powershot S70) and this was taken on my way to find Hansa studios, where Bowie and Iggy pop made some records in the 70's, a few streets from the hotel I stayed in. The photograph above were the the only remnants of the Berlin Wall I found, a small line of cobbles snaking off through the city, across main roads and under new apartment blocks, right around the city, marking the footprint of the old wall. It's a subtle nod to the past as Berlin races toward it's next big date with history.

taken in 2003: Powershot S70: Flickr entry

Written on: Tuesday, November 30, 2010
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Karl Marx said "whoever controls Berlin… controls Europe".

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