In Praise of Older Streets #BerlinDiary September 11

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We love the cobbled streets, the antique gas lamps. The older city still resists the onslaught of developers and speculators, the “Gentrifizierung” brigade, and it has allies. Yesterday, cycling our way from the Alex to Kollwitzplatz, and the charms of Prenzlauer Berg, we admired the contrasts, the moving groups, the bon-chic-bon-genre façon Berlin. And we enjoyed the ice-cream…

Closer home, back in proletarian Wedding, the new city remains loyal to its history, its heroes, and through the rumble of traffic, its wonderful parks and small lanes, its lakes. This the rough and tumble life of a city that has now grown back to its population of 1944: yes, 1944.

So, we too, remember 2001 and the victims, on the day, and ever since, of the wars that followed. Bless the cities that are reborn from the ruins.

Photo: Petra Flemming, Porträt Käthe Kolwitz, 1985, Stadt Museum, Berlin (“Stadt der Frauen”)

 

#WritersWednesday: September 11, 2013

Reflections on a dying Summer

Neue Wache Today is a day of mourning, for all those who died twelve years ago, for all those who died or were maimed in the years that followed since, sacrificed on the altars of folly, greed and bigotry. We will never forget. We will continue to pray for your souls. The world may have avoided – is it too early to hope once again? – another folly. Alas, we know, not for everyone.

Yet I wish to reflect on this Summer too, and the joys it brought to our lives, the cities we visited, the signs of life and hope we witnessed.

Yes, for a few days, we wanted to forget, to drown in the happy crowds, to savour art, the sounds of happiness, the beautiful faces of women. From time to time we too sink in blissful selfishness. And who could blame us?

Faces? Nina in London, Sarah in Berlin, Elsa in Paris… We admire you, we are puzzled, we search for meaning… As we witness the premises of Fall we relive little slices, cherished moments, of what is already our, and your, past, and wish we could watch this film, over and over again. But what remains is merely a few pictures, and some writing…

So, on this Writer’s Wednesday, we wish you, readers, a happy Autumn – or, perhaps, is it Spring for you? Love will save this world, for Love is immortal.

Photograph: Käthe Kollwitz’ Pietà, Neue Wache, Berlin (©2013 Honoré Dupuis)