1983lovesme's photos tagged with travel More of 1983lovesme's photos tagged with travel

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Monday, December 24, 2007

600% Fun at the Sportforum Berlin

Good times had at the Sportforum in Lichtenberg where we saw the Eisbären Berlin play the Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg. Having long been a fan of Ice Hockey (or at least the Disney classic 'The Mighty Ducks') it has long been a dream of mine to see a game, having not had too many opportunities to do so in Australia. And it really, really had it all. Grace, violence, loud music, spectacular outfits and even more spectacular chants. What more could you want? I would particularly recommend their anthem "Hey, wir wollen die Eisbären seh'n" (which approximately translates to"Yeah, We Wanna See The Polar Bears") to fans of decent techno, and I will be sure to crack it out at my next party because it has the best beat that I have ever heard in a team song. Am I conveying how much fun this event was? I hope so. It does have to be said that the atmosphere has sobered a little here since the end of the game though. Having done a little bit of post game research I have discovered that there is a darker side to my beloved Ice Bears, as the club was founded by the sports association of the East German Police, Volkspolizei and the secret service, MfS (better known as the Stasi). But hey, how much can you hold against a big furry logo? Nothing is going to ruin my memories of the best day had with the Ice Bears. Oh yeah, they won by the way.

Pilgrims setting off for the game

The players in action

Thursday, December 20, 2007

If This Is a Man / The Truce

Se questo è un uomo/La Tregua

"It is not at all an idle matter trying to define what a human being is."

Finally got down to reading these books after many years- taking some stern advice from the title of one of Levi's other titles 'If not now when?'

His memoirs begin shortly after the collapse of Mussolini's regime, and opens with Levi trying to contact a partisan group in the north of Italy as a very inexperienced young man. "I was twenty-four with little wisdom, no experience and a decided tendency ... to live in an unrealistic world of my own, a world inhabited by civilized Cartesian phantoms, by sincere male and bloodless female friendships." He is captured shortly after joining the partisans in December 1943 and sent to Auschwitz.
This memoir then tells the tale of Levi working as a slave labourer at a company making synthetic rubber for the Nazi war economy. Through a variety of accidents, a friendship with a non-Jewish guest working and by happening to know that he could safely eat cotton wool and drink paraffin (because he was a trained Chemist) he is spared the gas chamber. Almost every other character is dead by the end of the book, and the closing pages of the festering snowfields of Auschwitz after the Nazi's flee are probably the most horrifying passages of writing that I have ever read.
Liberated by the Soviets in January 1945, its sequel, The Truce, tells of Levi's hungry wanderings in war-torn eastern Europe in Poland, Belorussia, the Soviet Union, Hungary, and Romania, and really opened my eyes to how little the survivors of the war were attended to at all. Levi eventually returns home on the last pages of his account after a year of trying to get there, but he has a continual nightmare in which his present life turns out to be a mere illusion and he wakes up with Auschwitz's morning call: "Wstawac" (get up).

As usual I hesitate to actually write what I think in any detail about these excellent books , but hey, I can sure post a link to one here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Herr Lehmann

One of my new favourite films that made me love Kreuzberg just a bit more than I already did: Herr Lehmann. It tells the story of Frank Lehmann, a bar tender living in the 3036 borough of Kreuzberg back in 1989 just before the wall came down. Largely shut off by the Wall from the rest of West Berlin for 28 years it was (and is) a notorious sub-culture of students, artists, bohemians and immigrants living amongst the crumbling buildings. The film goes through the usual subjects you'd expect from a film about 20 somethings, but what really made it memorable for me was Herr Lehmanns visit to the East to drop off some money to a relative and his interrogation by the Stasi, and the strong sense throughout the film that the East and West could and would never be reunified. So of course the film ends to the wall coming down, and its a great scene, giving you some sense of the excitement and joy that the moment must have held for so many people, in Berlin and everywhere else too.

The soundtrack is pretty fun too, full of the Eels, Ween, Cake and the Violent Femmes. Not very 1989, but anyway...

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz

Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz
Now and Then

Today Steph and I took the S7 train to the end of the line out to the Wannsee Lakes to see if manage to say "I bet this must be beautiful in Summer" during our stay in Berlin. And really, it must be. Since it was raining we weren't keen on staying out in the cold for too long so we jumped on a bus and soon found ourselves outside of the front gate to the House of the Wannsee Conference. On January 20th, 1942, fourteen select German civil servants and SS-officers met here to discuss the implementation of "The Final Solution," the extermination of European Jews. It's basically considered to be the site of the turning point from the regime murdering Jews en masse to the regime planning their extermination in a cohered way. All in all, a pretty eerie place.

After WW2 it was used by the American occupation force for a few years, and then strangely enough, it was used as a Youth Hostel until the early 1990's when it was converted to this memorial and opened for the 50th Anniversary of the Conference. Wannsee remains a really affluent area to this day, and as we left I couldn't be sure whether it the memories of the exhibit or the oh so obscene wealth around me that was creeping me out more.