Berlin Portrait: A City Still Divided
Two years ago, in January of 2005, I was lucky enough to travel to Berlin for the purpose of writing a paper on East German punk rock. While there, I took a bunch of photos, mostly on the theme of the Wall, and the consequent division of the city, both phyisically and psychologically. Almost 20 years after that Wall came down, Berlin is still very much two cities-an Eastern metropolis quickly and ravenously consuming the trappings of Western consumerism, and a glittering Western icon and bastion of capitalism no longer surrounded by the dark threat of Communism.
Most people in the East speak two languages, as do their Western counterparts, but that language is Russian, not English. People my age remember the fall of the Wall vividly, as grandparents and other family members hitherto unreachable for over 30 years were suddenly a 10-minute subway ride away.
Yet, in spite of the collapse of the physical divide, Berlin remains two cities, clearly demarcated by crumbling bits of the Wall and other fading symbols of the official separation. The unique feeling one gets in Berlin has stuck with me to this day. It is Germany’s most vibrant and cheerful city, yet the memory of its recent violent past still governs the countenances and attitudes of Berliners today. View the Flickr photostream from Berlin beginning here.