Big soldier

Walpurgisnacht.

May Day.

Both are much bigger events here in the Land of Deutsch than at home.  Walpurgis night is apparently traditionally celebrated with dancing and bonfires, and in Berlin there’s a more modern tradition of leftist riots starting on Walpurgis night to get a head start for May Day.  This meant that there were police in body armour all over F’hain, and crowds of people wandering around, possibly following some undercurrents that I didn’t quite understand.

However, we missed the majority of any drama that was going on, because I decided to take LTN to Treptower Park and show him the soviet memorial on the way to the Kreuzberg Maifest.  It turned out that there was a party going on in the park too, so we ended up picnicking near a swing stage and practising flying, but never actually reaching the ‘officia’ Maifest.  Twas Fun though.

I don’t think LTN minded too much (I hope), he got a sausage and a good share of my cheese and ham bread thing out of it.  He also got to see the big soldier and play around with colours again.  Not that I am/he is easily pleased or anything…

You’ll notice that the memorial looks really quite different now that it’s all greened up.  Beautiful.  Happy belated Walpurgis all x

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Denkmal

Many weeks ago I had my first single lesson, which takes place close to Potsdamer Platz.  I hadn’t been there before and hadn’t realised that there had been a great curve of the Wall at that point and thus it had become one of the dead zones.  This means that there’s a lot of modern architecture there now, along with sections of and information about the Wall.  I must confess that I found the juxtaposition of the different styles of building around the square somewhat jarring, but fascinating nonetheless.

The lesson is from 3.30-5.00 on Friday afternoons, so afterwards I was a free agent and decided to follow the signs towards das Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas, otherwise known as the Holocaust Memorial.

It was a grey evening, which made the experience intensely monochromatic, as the memorial is composed of many blocks of grey stone.  They are laid out in ordered lines but the sizes vary greatly so that you have no concept from the outside of how deep you will go as you walk down the corridors of stone into the heart of the memorial.

Modern Berlin recedes as the stones grow around you and the path sinks and rises in front, behind and to either side.  I was aware of other people on the paths, spotted at intersections, crossing in the distance or nearby, but I felt surprisingly isolated despite that.  The meaning of the memorial is implicit in the weight of the stones, not explicit, and all the more resonant for that.

I found it hard to photograph effectively, as hard as it is now to put into words exactly what was in my mind.  So, I have subsequently played with the photos a bit, resulting in this:

and this even more highly processed version

and since the whole photography thing is contrived in the extreme, I’ve taken these photographers and messed around a bit more, getting an almost negative effect in the end

and finally, a focus on the blocks themselves, again pushed out of normal tones

This probably all appears more pretentious than my normal posts but I hope you aren’t too dismayed.  Of course the memorial is justly famous, and will feature in all the lists of things to see when you hit town, and it’s worth it.  It’s humbling and it makes you think.  After all, that’s what it’s there for.

p.s. written a few days ago and saved to post while LTN is here and I’m not writing.  However, I may have some guest posts coming up from the man himself, who has time to fill while I’m teaching.  Ah, bless. Night kids x