Berlin is a city with a famous wall, a wall that once divided a nation is now symbolic of a reunification not just of Germany, but perhaps the final act played out in the horror-show called World War Two. The wall itself still exist, broken into fragments and scattered around an otherwise dull city, a tourist attraction and a useful distraction from that other part of recent history that the Germans would sooner forget.
The Elephant in the room of course is the war and with it the cold war that followed with the convenient demonization of Soviet Russia and the oppression of half the German people for thirty years, that has been simply dismissed as retribution for a death toll inflicted by Hitler’s Nazis estimated to be anywhere between 24/40 million people depending on statistics from East or West records.
The demolishing of the wall in 1989 was all about freedom, which is of course subjective in the new age of haves and have not’s. Freedom to vote in a one party ideology regardless of the candidates that forms part of the bar less prison that seems the sickness of democracies the world over, but a sickness that seems much more obvious in the new economically prosperous Germany.
Yet nothing adds up in the German capital, unemployment is still roughly the same as it was back in the 50s when it was 5% today its around 4.7%. As the capital of Europe’s if not the worlds strongest economy the grim graffiti defaced streets of much of the cities poor areas reflect the kind of austerity felt by its other wise financially disadvantages neighbours. Even the modern downtown Berlin seems modest compared to other major cities around the world. Yet the inner city is run down, its infer-structure in a state of decay, its youth reflective of the decadence of disillusionment seen elsewhere in the western world at the height of the hippie movement of the 60s and 70s and yet this may well be a silent protest by a forgotten generation of the Fatherlands children distancing themselves from the latest process of Empire building.
Germany is the success story of the EU alongside India and China it boost export figures far in excess of imports. The official trade balance showed a surplus of 112billion euros from February up by 16.2% billion euros last year. In fact last year saw a bumper year for German economics recording a record export of 1.133 trillion euros. The main recipients of made in Germany goods being France and the USA, followed by the UK China and the Netherlands. Most of its imports coming from the Netherlands, China and France.
Speaking to an official I was told it will be at least two more generation before the war can be acknowledged and of course exploited by the tourist industry, I assume no moral high ground here for every country in the world exploits its history good or bad and Germany will be no exception, but worth a mention it was only in the last few years since the European football cup was held in Berlin did they put up a information sign to identify Hitler’s final bunker. This I was told to avoid thousands of people tramping around the apartment complex that now surround the site.
None of this reflects on the German people or for that matter the wall itself for amazingly it has become by accident a truly amazing outlet for free speech and creativity beyond the ugly tagging that cover large amounts of the city. The wall is a ever changing art gallery of the most looked at art by people for people.
Berlin has been called the city of artists, I would go further and say it is the home of creative madness for it seems on each street corner insanity runs parallel with normality and no one seems to notice. It seems a million years ago the Michael Jackson baby dangling incident from a Hotel Adlon Kempinski balcony in the city and has now become installed into Berlins folklore. one final fact with 175 museums it is said Berlin has more museums then rainy days.
Word/photographs David Coomber