I don’t want to jinx it and say winter is over but Spring is definitely on it’s way to Berlin. On Sunday I left a sink full of dirty dishes and walked from my place in Kreuzberg, across Tempelhofer Feld to Neukölln. It felt so luxurious, to take all that time just for breathing fresh air!
Just a few weeks ago the old airport was desolate of people and birds and the field and sky was blending into one big grey. I love walking and talking out ideas, the two fit really well together for me, and DM does too, so this was the first time this year where we’ve had a big ramble and left everyday troubles behind.
Upon reaching Hermannstraße in Neukölln, there was still light in the sky, so we stretched out the walk a little more by stepping into one of the graveyards that are found along Hermannstraße.
Close to the entrance there is a little hut with panels that have some info about forced labour; in this graveyard, there was a camp with approximately 100 workers that were forcibly transported from Eastern Europe to work in the graveyards during World War II. This was “discovered” in the last years of the 20th century. At which point the evangelical church started to try and find the former workers, ask for forgiveness, etc. Only one of them was both alive and well enough to make the trip to Berlin.
This is all on little panels you can read inside the graveyard, which is right by Leinestraße U-Bahnhof and called St. Thomas II (there are several graveyards together).
WTF? Why did it take 60 years (during which time most of the forced labourers died) for anything to happen, any sort of reparations, apology, etc. It feels like much of local history in Berlin is permeated with stories of Nazis / Nazi Germany and especially forced labour, but the big narrative is about the most horrible and tragic camps, often elsewhere, always so insane and horrible that you can only be transfixed and think “how awful, how did this one terrible thing happen”. Big overarching narratives like this create a false impression of the range of crimes committed (it includes not just Auschwitz but also this graveyard / forced labour camp) and stop us from thinking about the myriad ways that society creates injustice. And how systematic it is. And how it is not over. It made me shiver.
<3, Midi Grrrl
P.S. Shout out to all my German / living in Germany friends that are anti-fascist, when I arrived here I didn’t get all the stickers in venues we have played and the longer I live here I see more clearly the reasons why.