Berlin – what a city…

When I grew up, Berlin was this famous city surrounded by the GDR (“DDR”). There had been the stories about the Berlin airlift, when there was no supply for food and other critical things. And when you wanted to get there, you had to pass a “transit highway” through the GDR, that you were not allowed to leave.
Later in my life I lived in Berlin for a year. The wall was down for a long time and Berlin was this city that had the glamour from the west, but the eastern influence made the entire city vibrant and kind of exciting.
At the same time, in Berlin everything is kind of different than in any other city I know…taxi drivers can be super charming or truly unfriendly; the infrastructure is a disaster; cycling in the city is kind of suicide and politics never got the city under control or even developed the city.
What happened for sure was, that people made a lot of money out of this kind of unstructured melting place.
Yesterday, the city wanted to constitute the new government and the mayor in the parliament. A coalition was negotiated beforehand between the parties and the new government should be put in place in this democratic formal act. Typical Berlin, it took the parties three (!!!) voting rounds to institute the new government. Although there is an agreement, some parts of the political parties just wanted to express their unhappiness…In the third round all was back to normal. Just another lousy start of a government in Berlin…
It is true that you either love this place or you look at it and wonder…and keep wondering. I am the later. Although this city has all it takes to become a wonderful place where people and society can thrive and develop in the right direction. At the end, it all comes down to the people and their behavior and their voting – but the majority of the people in Berlin claim, that there isn’t the right alternative to vote for. Well, then the city should start an build one.


  • Mario Kowalski

    Song and Lyrics by Klaus Hoffmann in 1986, a neighbor of mine and he loves the city as much as I do

    What do I do in this city?
    That raised me to fear
    The for the questions of pale children
    Only one muzzle left And teach them even their old people Who still want to tell so much
    To be overlooked
    What do I do in this city? Who needs so much progress
    But like a toothless woman
    laughs at everything new The tourist wears masks
    When their night packs the dirt
    What do I do?
    What else keeps me in this cold
    Rusty fat, almost rotten bear city

    It seems to me like an old bear
    It is difficult for him weak and clumsy
    To be strong in this cage
    He is already snuffling, gulping his breath But this bear is not yet weak
    He sticks to the contract, shows discipline Four fat men push, pull, take care of them Trim him

    What do I do in this city? What do I use my strength for? What do I do in this city? I am so hungry and I feel so full

    How long do you keep this coffee? Still awake with antibiotics
    How long will it take? Until they build new rubble again When at last they give out lame weariness
    The city’s last hard brother kiss
    That she needs so much
    Three marks fifty for a city
    Which have been lifted so often
    The only one not listed as a historic monument Missed the final blow
    Come, who wants a dusty, musty
    And already half decayed Barbed wire fenced panopticon for sale

    Indifference prevails here Hatred and Envy
    The Zaster and the Suffering
    The loneliness
    The hypocrisy, the lie
    Alienation and the Need
    Let you choose between
    Fear or fraud

    So what has changed? Except of gone walls and clashing cultures, not so much. The story of this city remains the same. We are a provincial village pretending to be a big city. You can always to better? No, this is not valid for Berlin. We can’t build Airports, we can’t manage infrastructure, we can’t bring together different cultures and people, we live with poverty and we can’t deal with diffenrent types of abuse, we even can’t do elections. The disaster yesterday was only a follow up of the initial election in September last year. Because our planning failed. At this this time there was by accident the Berlin Marathon and the courier drivers where not able to bring the voting papers to the polling stations in time because the complete traffic was interrupted for hours. Nothing to quarrel about then we left the polling stations a bit longer open. The last vote was made at 9.30 pm. Uups, but the official closing time was at 6 pm and in the radio and TV you could already listen and watch the official election prognosis. Yes, sometimes the shit hits the fan. And we take a shower every day. And if you find this “sexy” our former major was right when saying “Berlin is poor but sexy”.
    But anyway, I’m proud to be part of this. In my 60 years I left the city three times for a while but I always returned and felt at home. Do not expect to much from us, we can’t do better. Did you ever visit Dehli? New Dehli where the goverment and the house of parliament is located is like Berlin-Mitte. And Old Dehli is the rest of Berlin. When I was political growing up in the Eighties busses full of tourist came to Berlin, watching the wall and driving to Kreuzberg to see occupied houses and punks. Oh god, I hated them. I felt like an ape in the zoo. Today nothing changed but now they are driving thru Berlin-Mitte and watching the Reichstag. Coming Monday there will be the 1st of May, traditionally an exceptional situation since the 1980ies. This time the radical left was tired to attend the boring German Unions demonstrations and the “revolutionary May 1st Demo” was born. Black styled and masked people were expressing their view to this world. Cars were burning, people injured on both sides but it became a ritual and there was always a so called “MyFest” in Kreuzberg. This year this will change. An opion poll done by the local authorities has shown that the Kreuzberg inhabitants does not want this “MyFest” because of the waste and noise. So the authorities cancelled this event. What has happened? Kreuzberg becomes Berlin-Mitte and the former punks and other folks left Kreuzberg and are replaced by Yuppies and DINKYs from all over Germany and the world who now wants to be part of the glamour and richness of the city. Saying all this my ask is: Leave this city alone, bring the capital city back to Bonn. We don’t need “Raison Bombers” anymore. From the bottom of our heart we are provincial village people coming from Lichtenberg, Neukölln, Tempelhof and Marzahn and in the second instance we are “Berliner”. What today is expected from us we will never achieve. Alternativly we can continue to replace the people but then you might miss the charming or unfriendly taxi driver. He might have gone and with him the soul of the city.

  • Frank Obermeier (author)

    What a beautiful love letter to your city.
    And an even better proposal how to keep the charming city. I still believe that cities need to develop and the thing that strikes me in Berlin, is the huge difference between the provincial people and the “new style” people. You can argue they are fundamentally different – which is true when you discuss with both of them… – but at the same time, they are both living in this city and want this place to be what they want it to be.
    One way is to go back to old times and just sit there…another is to go to the future state and just sit there. A compromise in both and a joint development would be just about right, My 2 cents (and for sure you can build airports)

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