Berlin: where histories collide [19/50]

After I had left Spain, I went to Berlin for three days. I have been to Berlin on numerous occasions and indeed, my first trip to Berlin was only a couple of months after the fall of the Berlin Wall. I remember watching the wall being pushed over by the Berlin crowds on the television from the comfort of my run-down hostel in Notting Hill in London. I couldn’t wait to get to that city!

After that first trip, it was many years before I returned and by that time, Berlin had changed beyond recognition. The capital had been rebuilt, and considerable sums of money had been invested in restoring public buildings and integrating the east of the city with the Capitalist West. And an energised libertarian punk scene emerged, and perhaps not surprisingly, positioned itself somewhere between the libertine left and the libertarian right (or some type of political spectrum). And the punks (for lack of a better description) utilised all the free space that an integrated Berlin had left over for parties, bars, squats, and galleries.

I wish I had had spent more time in 1990s Berlin; the 1990s and the 1930s were perhaps Berlins most decadent periods.


When I was in Berlin, this time, I met my friend Emu for dinner at his apartment in Neukolln. I am still getting used to the idea of meeting Emu in an apartment because all the other times I have come to Berlin I have stayed in his decked-out fire truck in Kreutzburg. The fire truck was in a wagon community on free land, right next to where the Berlin Wall used to divide east from west. I stayed there many times, a beautiful community with an enviable lifestyle.

On this trip, I also met a young friend of mine from Tallinn in Estonia who had flown specially to Berlin so we could hang out. It is strange that when I was in that hostel in Notting Hill watching the fall of the Berlin Wall, I never imagined I would have a close friend from the USSR and from a region within it I didn’t know existed (which is now a vigorously independent country). The great events of world history play out in the every day, in more ways than we imagine, they collide in welcome ways and sometimes tragic ways and nowhere is this more the case, than in Berlin.



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