Archive for March, 2008

March 15, 2008

– Part II: Signs – More of being an Israeli Girl in Berlin –

This is the second part for “From Dachau With Love”:

Mesmerized by the spectacular views passing by as bus number 48 drove on an early Monday morning from Alexander Platz, I was determined to observe Berlin as a new inhabitant, and not as a mistrustful sightseer. My heart was singing while looking at all that beauty. That precise European elegance while passing Fischerinsel, the decorated bridge over the vast river, the immense Rathaus, the blue-glass skyscrapers in Potsdamer Platz, and gorgeous businesswomen in Stadtmitte. The way everything is so well planned and not half-way done. The Double-Decker buses and trams and the metallic smell at the U-Bahn; the recording informing me what the next stop will be in such a scrumptious accent. These are the things that remind me: I now live in Europe. The reason for this untimely 9am expedition was to inspect a language school in the remote Schöneberg area. Remote being in Tel-Aviv distances, of course. As I took my place in the classroom, I was pleased to look out of the large windows. But while gazing into the busy Hauptstrasse, I inevitably noticed something familiar. Identical to what caught me so unprepared right across from the KaDeWe a lifetime ago, stands firm yet isolated on a traffic island, yellow letters on black metal. ‘From here they were transported, men, women and children to the following concentration camps…’ The sign kindly informed me.

The thing is, that I wasn’t really surprised, I already was acquainted with one of its relatives. I simply smiled empathetically. I could tell it was smiling back at me wearily, while I tried to focus on Dative & Accusative. But my mind wandered off and I couldn’t help but thinking: Who are the owners of the company that produced these signs and profited from this whole deal? Where were their grandparents or where were they when people were transported to another world? Going home from school I found that I must pass by this memorial every day on my way to the bus. Was this Berlin’s way of telling me I should pack my bags and head on home, to the familiar anti-occupation graffiti we’ve gotten too used to?

When I told my mother about all this she asked how could someone ever live in Berlin. I replied that if she would ever bother coming here she would understand. She changed the subject.

In a city, which takes pride in preserving its history, how can one expect not to run into some “unpleasant” memorials? Indeed, when decided to follow my man to Berlin I predicted this would happen. But after all, even at war there are rules of engagement. I’ve only been back a week, and hoped Berlin would give me a fair start.