I dream of the city, as it was, long before Frederick, not the capital of a respected and feared kingdom, with a formidable army, but the main settlement of a peaceful people, in the midst of lakes and thick forests, surrounded by wilderness.
Then came the long war, the uninterrupted banditry, the destructions, the killing of women and children by drunk and pitiless soldiers, the burning of churches. All the German lands were ransacked by marauding troops of mercenaries, and the land’s own army was no better. Lawlessness ruled, and finally the whole land laid in ruins. But the people fought back, order was recreated out of chaos… It took thirty years.
The city, Faust’s city, later became the capital of the new kingdom, that was proclaimed, far to the East, in Königsberg, on the shores of the Baltic Sea, the Ostsee. When Frederick, der Philosopher König, inherited the crown from his father, der Soldaten König, Prussia was already a power among the other European powers. His city, Berlin, became the centre of the Enlightenment, and it was befitting that Königsberg was also Immanuel Kant’s birth place.
So, I keep dreaming, of the long history, of Blücher’s victory in Waterloo, for it was Prussia, and the Prussian armies that won that war. Before many others. I see the Siegessaüle column, in the middle of the Tiergarten, and the memorial that dominates Viktoria Park. My thoughts are never very far from there, from the streets of Kreuzberg, from the river, from the Landwehr canal where they threw the martyred body of Rosa Luxemburg in 1919. So much to think about, to write about.
Soon, we will walk those streets again, our minds full of those memories, our eyes capturing the beauty and strangeness of the scenery: us, among so many others, enthralled, astonished, under the spell of Berlin. And so many ghosts, so many familiar faces that cannot be there, but somehow are, out of films, out of books, out of our own demented imagination, out of a deep past.