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Layers of a City

So often I walk the streets of this city without really seeing. Everything is familiar, always the same. Until suddenly it is not.

I had enjoyed a wander around one of my favourite craft stores. It’s a cool place, so many fun things to get those creative juices flowing.

As I was leaving, I turned around to take a look back at the façade (which incidentally is pretty funky). That’s when I spotted it. A memorial plaque telling me that on this very spot, there used to stand a synagogue. The building was destroyed during the Reichskristallnacht of November 1938. At my feet, an indication of what likely happened to the people who would have attended the synagogue. Stolpersteine commemorating (what appear to be) three members of the same family, all deported and killed.

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A sudden glimpse of the many layers that make up this city. There’s the obvious – the many tourists, the expensive department store, the fun craft shop. Then there is what has gone before. The things we normally don’t see, made visible and brought into the present.

So much else I’m not seeing as I walk through my days. Stories happening in the lives of individuals I encounter. Hidden people, hidden groups, hidden dynamics. Layers upon layers.

I wonder what those layers look like in my apartment, on my street, in my neighbourhood? What’s gone before – what joy, what sadness, what tragedy, what ordinariness? All of it has shaped the place, has shaped who and what we are now.

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6 thoughts on “Layers of a City

  1. beautiful, Bayta

    From: Ain’t Mine No More To: sfearll@yahoo.com Sent: Sunday, September 30, 2018 3:19 PM Subject: [New post] Layers of a City #yiv9261368376 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv9261368376 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv9261368376 a.yiv9261368376primaryactionlink:link, #yiv9261368376 a.yiv9261368376primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv9261368376 a.yiv9261368376primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv9261368376 a.yiv9261368376primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv9261368376 WordPress.com | bayta posted: “So often I walk the streets of this city without really seeing. Everything is familiar, always the same. Until suddenly it is not.I had enjoyed a wander around one of my favourite craft stores. It’s a cool place, so many fun things to get those creative” | |

  2. Thanks for this lovely reflection Bayta. I had a similar experience near our flat. Glancing at a shop promsing “London Fashion’ I suddenly noticed several Stolpersteine at my feet commemorating the Jewish people who had lived there. Probably noticing me staring at the pavement another woman stopped to do the same. We both agreed that it was a first for us seeing Stolpersteine in Wilhelmstadt Berlin. I’ve lived here 18 years and for 17 had walked by or over them. I have seen so many in Charlottenburg and also in Spandau’s Old Town but never where I actually live.

    1. Thanks so much, Gabrielle! Interestingly, there aren’t very many in my neighbourhood either. And we live in very different parts of the city. I wonder why some areas have a lot more Stolpersteine than others.

      1. The area around Bleibtreustr. in the City West has many Stolpersteine. There must have been many Jewish people living there.

  3. I guess it also depends on whether or not people in the neighbourhood are willing to give towards the Stolpersteine. And it needs someone to take the initiative. Anyway, I’m glad they’re spreading!

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