Berliner Mauer

 

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In May 2015 I went to Berlin, the city that is symbolic for the division of the world in the Cold War era. A city with a strange city wall in her past. Not for protection against dangers from the outside, but a kind of prison wall, surrounding a place where everybody wants to go. Is there still wall in the people?

Berlin is like twins growing up separately. But twins that have grown towards one another during the 16 years of their reunion. It feels like an ant hill in the morning sun, a city in development. There is a lot of building going on. The bold spots are fading, but past and present are visible at the same time. And Berlin is never boring.
I looked at the wall. Canvas for street art. The thread between destruction and creation. And what did I find: it’s gone. I cycled the Mauerweg, and encountered five watch towers (of the hundreds that once were). The longest piece of wall is the so called East-side Gallery, a few hundred meters of graffiti for tourists. Lots of small signs making note of deceased almost-escaped East-Berliners, and the wall itself, reduced to a double row of cobblestones in the asphalt. That’s it.
Disappointing? No, because the wall is still there. In museums. In swarms of tourists at the fake Checkpoint Charlie getting their pictures taken with badly paid actors dressed in army surplus store cloths. In metal plaques on the pavement with the names of escaped freedom searchers on them. In Ostalgie. In a place for new initiatives. Destruction equals creation. Berlin is the wall.

Patrick Jonkman, 2015