1 May in Berlin. If you know anything about this city, you will immediately think of riots. And sadly there is quite a bit of that going on as I’m writing this in the evening.
This morning it was very different, though. Myfest is a great event that has been running for a few years, in order to reclaim the streets from those wanting to cause trouble. I wish you could smell all the yummy food being prepared everywhere, a lot of it by local people! Falafel, döner, köfte, etc etc. Amazing! And then the sounds! A Turkish singer songwriter on stage. A bit further along, Kurdish music and people dancing to it. Away from the main square, there are more bands playing on different stages. Most of them waaaay too loud for my liking!
Before all of this gets properly under way, “Together for Berlin” hold an open air service, to pray for the city and particularly for a peaceful day. Very special!
This is the backdrop to my latest “Great Little Berlin Moment”. After the service, a few of us decided to explore the area a bit. In the church right on Mariannenplatz, they have some incredible pictures up, showing how the Berlin Wall went right through the neighbourhood, literally running maybe 20 metres behind the church. We also read about a Turkish immigrant guy who spotted a piece of wasteland near his home, and decided to grow some vegetables there. Turns out that piece of land officially belonged to East Berlin, but had ended up on the western side of the Wall. Something to do with building the Wall in a straight line and not wasting ressources by building around that little plot. Anyway, the East German border guards weren’t too pleased with Mr Kalin (that was his name) digging up their land but eventually, after a lot of toing and froing they let him get on with it, as he was a poor immigrant suffering under the Capitalist system and having to grow his own food. Great story!
On leaving the church, we took a look at where the wall used to be, now turned into a very pleasant park. Then we spotted a slightly strange looking building just across the street. Lo and behold if that is not the same plot of land we had just been reading about! And even more amazingly, Mr Kalin was there, sitting in his garden. He is now very elderly and hard of hearing but we got chatting to his son who showed us around the little tree house/hut thing that his father built bit by bit, as and when he found some more wood. Unbelievable! A totally random hodge-podge of different materials. I have no idea how it holds up but it does!
So that was my Great Little Berlin Moment of today! Here are some pictures for you to enjoy and German speakers can read more here