Platz der Luftbrücke

We will walk to Bergmannstraße through the Volkspark Hasenheide. In the park we take a shortcut, which leads us along the nude bathing area, where mostly midlife aged males stretch their wrinkled bodies out in the early summer sun, among them one woman, spreading her knees, stretching her joins and loins. The attitude toward and tradition of nudism in Germany is incomprehensible in the States, even in the Netherlands. It remains an ambiguous cultural phenomenon, also to me, as I try to estimate the psyche of the average nudist here at Hasenheide, half of the men seeming to search for a confirming glance, staring at the passers-by at the pedestrian pathway. I feel comfortable with the idea that the nude is tolerated, and that in the middle of Neukölln with its many, mostly Islamic immigrants.

At Bergmannstraße a street fair was taking place, with many second hand articles, books and clothes being offered. Some market-vendors were professional alcoholics, others weekend market-vendors, but most of the articles offered were sincerely second-hand, a rare phenomenon in Amsterdam, as I remember, where the second-hand market was dominated by professional exploiters, labeling anything second-hand that would sell well, and labeling anything antiques that was second-hand.

At a few stands they were selling books, among which I found a “Chronicle of Pankow,? the northern district of Berlin, and “Irrungen, Wirrungen? by Theodore Fontane about the impossibility of love between a working class girl and an officer, for respectively €1.5 and €1. I had almost forgot the joy of discovery, searching for the few jewels among the rubble. Right next to the Marheinekeplatz lie the Markthalle, which directly calls into memory the market halls in Saint Petersburg. At Barcomi Bar we sit down for a Kaffee, while we test if we can make use of the hotspot connection. It doesn’t work, we need the password to connect to the Deutsche Telekom’s T-DSL subscription. We walk along, down Bergmannstraße, Kreuzbergstraße, around Victoria Park, with the Kreuz (Cross) on top of its Berg (Mountain).

We don’t walk in Victoria Park to see the National Memorial, which we might do tomorrow after all. We also skipped to visit Stresemann’s grave at the Luisenstadt Cemetary, unaware of the historic context, while we wandered along the Kreuzberg area. Along Dudenstraße we return in the direction of Neukölln, crossing the Platz der Luftbrücke with its known monument resembling a stylized flattened tripod, commemorating the Air Lift of 1948-1949. Around the square lay the half circled arms of the Tempelhof Airport complex, built in the National Socialist era. The Fascist architecture is not only recognizable by the giant forceful eagles that guard each building’s corners, but also by the modernist colonnades and windows. The bronze eagle that used to tower above the complex has made place for modern radar equipment.

A second remnant of the Air Lift is an old DC-3 airplane, the “Rosinen Bomber,? right next to the old baseball field, of which it is unclear to me if it is still in use. A new sign at the Berlin skyline is the large mosque at the Islamic Cemetary, a beautiful building; it’s two white minarets rising high above the central dome.

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