BERLIN’S DARK PAST

BERLIN’S DARK PAST

The temperature rose to 30 degrees. I found a bench (these are rare in Berlin) and people watched. It’s Sunday and the shops are shut. A barefoot guy hops along the street. Cyclists zip past with no helmets on. Only children wear them here. Girls and guys wander along covered in tatts and piercings. People from nearby apartments come down and sit in the shade reading. Outside space is a rarity in many apartments here. Some people hold bottles of beer, but most carry water as they trudge along the baking Strasse. Cafes and restaurants fill up as Berliner’s enjoy the sun.

I walked a route for one of my characters in The Circle of Sappho. Auguststrasse has been rebuilt with new buildings, except for two or three. One caught by eye. It was rundown and had bullet holes in the mortar. A plastic frame with a text in German had been placed next to the entrance.  Kinderheim Ahawah – I took a photo and googled it. This used to be a Jewish children’s home. Two Jewish painters sold some of their paintings so a new home could be built in Palestine, which at that time was under British rule. The British would only issue certificates for children over 15. Between 1934-39, 100 children made it to Haifa. The remaining children were transported to Auschwitz…….

Further along the street stands the Michael Fuchs gallery, which was the Jewish Girls school. Now renovated, it houses the Kennedy Museum. I think the original mosaic is in the entrance hall. Along the wall by the restaurant are photos of young girls in the classroom and playing in the schoolyard. The school was closed in 1942 by the Nazis, its pupils and teachers deported to camps. How anyone could eat in there…..

The greenery of trees and grass softens this city, but it didn’t work for me today.

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