I was up earlyish this morning to walk along Mühlenstraße and the stretch of the Berlin Wall still left standing. The East Side Gallery is made up of 105 paintings all created in 1990, a year after the Mauerfall. I’ve been a couple of times before and never tire of it – on each visit I notice new details and words amongst the larger images of freedom in all its forms. The line between graffiti and wall art can perhaps seem a volatile one, but all the same I’m not keen on tourists ‘contributing’ to such an important monument, and the scribbles starting to cover up the art (some of which already had to be renovated in 2010) hopefully won’t marr its meaning too much.
I had lunch in Café Einstein Stammhaus with Oliver, who studied Maths at Magdalene, and his son and daughter. It was great to hear about some of the workings of the Cambridge Society in Berlin prior to meeting a few more of its members tomorrow, and to chat about everything from Brexit to trashy German television.
In the afternoon there was room enough for a trip to the Alte Nationalgalerie on the Museumsinsel, home to five of Berlin’s most well-known museums. I enjoyed wandering amongst the paintings, before relaxing in the Lustgarten for a bit and watching the clouds move above the beautiful Berlin cathedral, with the contrastingly concrete Fernsehturm and its red-and-white striped aerial emerging from behind.
My last stop for today was the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. It’s just behind the Brandenburger Tor and was constructed between 2003 and 2004. Peter Eisenman, the architect, suggests that it represents a supposedly ordered system that has lost contact with human reason, and the uneven ground and rectangular blocks of varying heights do evoke a collision of order and chaos.
I like that the memorial is interactive in a way, and think this allows for deeper consideration of what it represents. I also found out that the Mauer went through this part of Berlin, giving the memorial an even greater significance as reminder of a continually splintered C20th history.