Tuesday, November 29, 2005
last days in Berlin
I thought I'd submerge myself for a day in cafe culture while in Berlin, but mostly I want to get on with my life. Partly a homesickness, partly an impatience to return to the things waiting for me. I try to sit and write, but without a computer, it seems too slow a process. My handwriting can't keep up.
Berlin is enchanting, haunting, creepy and beautiful. The more I learn about this city, the more I feel for it. The last ten or fifteen years have been the most stable that the city has seen in a century and a half. It has constantly been torn at, upset by revolt, divided from the outside. When I was here with Bea about two years ago, we stayed with my uncle in a lovely coachhouse on the banks of the Wannsee -- a lake in the southwest of the city. I just learned the somewhere in that area, in 1941, Hermann Göring put together his outline for a "final solution" to the "Jewish question" (i.e, the Holocaust). The day before yesterday I walked down a set of streets that saw, in the 1840's to the 1860's, a series of workers' protests that became the birth of the Communist movement -- the white bedsheets that covered dead protestors became drenched in blood, which someone then tied to a broom and waved as a red flag signifying their solidarity to the cause. Yesterday I visited Potsdam, where in the mid-1700's Voltaire was a common guest of King Frederick the 2nd (I think it was Frtiz II -- there's a lot them and I get mixed up).
We have as much history back home in Canada, but those who lived it didn't write it down so often. I also think we confuse a history with the story of statehood. Though maybe, in the end, we just don't care about it as much in North America.