Scar of memory, a souvenir of a nightmare, it ruins the story? What remains of the barrier between East and West is now a tangible symbol of an identity that is reconstructed
A kilometer of freedom. And the magic of spray cans this summer by over a hundred artists who, after the November 1989 had arrived here from all over the world, they are celebrating peace and the end of the cold War, to compete in paintings and rhymes, to transform into a
museum under the open sky in a barrier of reinforced concrete, the same freedom, he had offended and humiliated. A scar that, to touch it, it still hurts. But in the Berlindistrict of Friedrichshain, what remains of the Wall has become a “safe haven” against the amnesia, a place to think and rethink, to remember the madness you have built and you always have the doubt of not having it completely shot down. Are 106 paintings. Ironic, suggestive, sarcastic. And, thirty years later, what is called the East Side Gallery is something more: a sort of “Wall down”, the glue between the East and the West as the margin that holds together the pages of a book, the place where you can rediscover the lightness of the words and the art in a divided city for a long, long time, where everything was double and nothing was normal.
Of course, Berlin is no longer the same. And also the Wall is no longer him. Removed, dispelled, or exploited in a way a caricature for the industry cheesy souvenirs. But at least here, on the banks of the Spree, became a “collective heritage”. Precious, as it may be the longest catwalk in the world of street art. Fragile and poignant, as it appears in the middle of the long wall, where we note the work of Rosemarie Schinzler dedicated to peace, with a vessel which comes out from the wall, and that the German artist had filled with flowers, adding the message: “please, water”. Sad: today it is often full of waste. Here it is. There is nothing worse for this place with a strong symbolic charge. A few meters away, a real estate company, has opened a breach in the Wall to build luxury apartments. And, a little later, crane and excavators are putting the foundations of a hotel, a few metres from the fresco in which the iranian Kani Alavi captures the image of an entire people press to cross a border to be unbearable, and in the painting by Birgit Kinder in that it depicts an old car Trabant, a symbol of the soviet industry, that breaks through the Wall. The gathering in front of the work signed by the Russian Dmitri Vrubel reveals its popularity in the ranking of satisfaction: the kiss on the lips between soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and the strong man of the Gdr, Erich Honecker. Accompanied by the inscription: “My God, help me to survive this fatal love”. Jörg Weber, leader of the association that is fighting to protect her, nods: “The East Side Gallery is the consciousness of the city. Berlin, watching the Wall is the Berlin that learns to watch itself”.
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Berlin, places to visit, 30 years old, from the Wall
Berlin what to see: the collage of neighborhoods
The picture is perfect: the bicycle whizzing by every part of it, boutique sweet my along Kastanienallee and, in the public gardens, the concentration of women with the pram to make one think of a small paradise in the birth rate. Google Maps reveals the secret: it’s trendy Prenzlauer Berg district, Berlin’s “politically correct” and young couples and well-heeled able to tie the knot in what, before the fall of the Wall, looked like a neighborhood inhabited by artists and intellectuals, ill-borne by the scheme, then the refuge of squatters and alternative. Other stuff today: the old houses have been renovated to justify the soaring rents, the green reassuring to Kollwitzplatz, surrounded by mansions from the air of paris, a few steps away, the historic brewery Schultheiss, where the malt and hops have left the place in concert halls, exhibition spaces and a museum about the daily life in the times of the Ddr. Stefano Gualdi, owner of Hello Berlin , and one of the most popular organizers of thematic tours along the old Wall, it has the right words for everything: “it Is the East Berlin view and told by those who lived”. Enlightening. Of the rest, the German capital is not a metropolis. It is a collage of neighborhoods, because the berliners have need of to recognize herself in their Kiez: a refuge, a place where you feel protected, a microcosm of the urban where you can share with others the privilege of living there. As in the Mitte district, the first historic center of the city, almost unrecognizable when compared to thirty years ago.
Or in Kreuzberg, the former neighborhood punks of the west, beloved of David Bowie and Iggy Pop, today more bohemian and creative, with the the hipsters that seem to defy the cultural leadership of the strong Turkish community: concept store, web company, microbreweries, gardens, clubs and workshops of the bio, where the whole grains compete with the kebabs, break times alone. And, on the banks of the Spree river, the scenic bridge, Oberbaumbrücke, for years, the border crossing point between east and west, today is a hinge between the two most vibrant parts of the city. It comes to the nearby Neukölln, a district difficult for immigrants to become a Brooklyn German cheap and chic. The ideal place where to update the slogan of the former mayor Klaus Wowereit, who in 2003 was fond of saying : “Berlin is poor but sexy”. Because if it is not yet rich, however, is not miserable and is still sexy: the visit to the cafe and the pub became the last Fort Alamo in front of the real estate speculation, a herbal tea at one of the local Pannierstrasse to collect the reflections of the mexican artist Cristina Piza on the district “a more authentic Berlin” and a walk along Sonnenallee, tree-lined avenue that the Wall had split in half and that many would like to turn into a promenade for just walking. Beyond the river, Treptow-Köpenick, there is the Spreepark, skeletal amusement park of Germany, the communist left by two decades, which projects the image of a city-laboratory, perpetually unresolved and in search of returnable bottles to fill: a ferris wheel that no longer rotates and the surreal dragons and dinosaurs waiting to another destination. The brutalist architecture that is both a decoration and redemption. As it happens after sunset, in the party of techno music in the vaults of a former power station transformed into the club’s most trendy Friedrichshain. Philosophy the whole of berlin: the night is like life, a party short and intense.
Berlin, the story of the fall of the wall
Thirty years is a moment. And the Berlin of 1989 and immediately became family, evoked by Helene Harth, charismatic figure of the faculty of roman Languages in Potsdam, and Roberto Giardina, for years the correspondent of the Italian daily newspapers from Berlin. Flashback to the inevitable: the memory of the demonstrations in the east, between the summer and the autumn, against Erich Honecker, the strong man of the Ddr. And that fateful 9 November, when the communist government had finally approved a plan to allow citizens to move to the west side. Measure operating only since the dawn of the next day. If not that, the same evening, during a press conference, at the request of Richard Erhman, of the Loop, the spokesman of the Gdr, Günter Schabowski replied “as far as I know, immediately”. A free street intercepted by all the berlin radio, and tv: the Wall could be breached. And thousands had taken to counter the regime, ammassandosi at the checkpoint Bornholmer Strasse, then open in the absence of precise provisions. “They were the 23.29,” says Giardina, “and that doorway also had the Story”.
In front of the original block Wall placed at the foot of the hotel The Westin Grand Berlin, Dagmar Hovestädt lends itself to mimic the gesture, which thirty years ago was to reach the east, a young apprentice, a reporter of a tv in the west committed to accompany a Bbc crew in to make the scoop journalism of the century. A predestined. With the years, would become head of communications of the BStU, the federal commission that deals with the archives of the Stasi, 111 km of written documents, photos and videos that reveal the madness of a Germany where everyone is controlled all. “Browsing the archives”, explains Hovestädt, “it’s an absurd reality, and cynical: even a relative could be a spy”. Other times, of course. Not far away, the colossal sculpture Molecule Man by Jonathan Borofsky that floats on the river Spree becomes the metaphor of the German capital. Three human figures are high, about thirty metres to celebrate the meeting between Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain and Treptow, a time separated from the Wall. The first impression is the official version: they are embracing in a gesture of reconciliation. But it is judgment that does not dodge the doubts of observers more malicious: it seems that the three are in reality since December of santa ragione. Another retropensiero: Berlin has had to deal with his wounds, visible and invisible. And continues to make them.
Berlin, what to visit: the old and the new fences
Restore it? For charity! It is fascinating as well: an absurd chaos of warehouses, sheds chips and rusting rails, where were made the maintenance of the trains 22, in the heart of Friedrichshain. And, behind the written Raw, one of the last citadels of alternative Berlin, where you can meet designers and emerging street art, including an outdoor cinema and a skatepark, a refuge of the last war has turned in the gym for climbers andUrban Spree, an art gallery and library day, space to listen to the music, the night. Shortly after the entrance, there is a telephone booth that a young berliner has turned into a brilliant mini disco. Two euros to enter, up to a maximum of four people narrow like anchovies, to select your favorite music and rocking out for a handful of minutes. The berliners love the original ideas, and now there are cabins similar everywhere, yet another found a city more relaxed than swanky, more flow to the improvised parties to the runways.
For information and details: visitberlin.de