Vanish #DailyPost #Berlin-Spandauer Schifffahrtskanal

Along the canal…

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It’s a nice relaxing walk, some three kilometres from our place, soon on the bank of the Spandau canal, formerly Hohenzollern canal, following the Mauerweg. A small cemetery lies there, it must have been, for years, in the no man’s land between West and East, and the graves are those of senior officers of the Prussian army who were active before or at the start of the first World War.

This place is eery, as the Wall has vanished, bar in a few places (one can see still a watch tower entirely preserved, surrounded by new buildings where families and children now live.) Yet one feels that other presence: there was a border once, and thirty years before then it was not the City we now see. The province – Land – that has survived, is no longer Prussia, it is back to being Brandenburg. The founding myths of the new republic, “wir sind das Volk”, gloss over the historical complexities. What we see, or guess at, is the multitude of ghosts who haunt the space, all the way to the Reichstag.

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Photos: © 2016 Honoré Dupuis

Brandenburg and her capital: #longing

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.

Soldiers plundering a farm during the thirty years' war 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.

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