How the West was lost

On the forgotten half of Berlin

This is a belated plug for Dave Rimmer's feature on the Ostzeit photography exhibition in Berlin that we published last week. It's a display of photographs from the former East Germany, but Dave makes an interesting point at the end of his piece: we think of the East as a "vanished" world -- and what about West Berlin? Geographically isolated during the cold war, it was never really part of "the west" as such. The former East Berlin is now a fashionable tourist destination and memories of life under communism have been evoked in films such as Goodbye Lenin and The Lives of Others. But, writes Dave, "nobody has bothered to ask west Berliners what they think about the past". He continues:

Watching everything move east into the smartened-up new city centre, while their side of town becomes ever tattier and less fashionable, the west Berliners . . . have become the forgotten term in Berlin's perennially vexed equation.

Here's video footage of a crossing from east to west in 1990, after the wall had come down, but when the city was still divided:

 

 

 

Daniel Trilling is the Editor of New Humanist magazine. He was formerly an Assistant Editor at the New Statesman.

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"The Anatolian Fertility Goddess": a poem by Fiona Pitt-Kethley

Across the Golden Horn in Karakoy. . . 

Across the Golden Horn in Karakoy,
a maze of ancient, crooked, cobbled streets
contains the brothels of old Istanbul.
A vendor at the bottom of the hill
sells macho-hot green chilli sandwiches.
A cudgel-wielding policeman guards the gate.
 
One year, dressed as a man, I went inside
(women and drunks are not allowed in there).
I mingled with the mass of customers,
in shirt, grey trousers, heavy walking boots.
A thick tweed jacket flattened out my breasts.
A khaki forage cap concealed my hair.
 
The night was young, the queues at doors were short.
Far down the street a crowd of men stood round
and watched a woman dancing in a house.
Her sixty, sixty, sixty figure poured inside
a flesh-tone, skin-tight, Lycra leotard,
quivered like milk-jelly on a shaken plate.
 
I’ve seen her type before in small museums –
primeval blobs of roughly sculpted stone –
the earliest form of goddess known to man.


Fiona Pitt-Kethley is a British poet, novelist and journalist living in Spain. Her Selected Poems was published in 2008 by Salt.

This article first appeared in the 26 May 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The Brexit odd squad