Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Am I back in old Soviet Berlin?

Treptower Park;  large, looming, ominous and unmistakably Soviet.
I feel as I step into the park that I have gone back in time. To a time when the stasi were an ever present part of East German life and a world where we lived in constant fear of a nuclear war.
Communist countries did love a sculpture, statue or tower. Some even had all three plus many more emblems that would adorn cities, streets and buildings. You would not be able to get away from the sight of political propaganda anywhere back in the days of the iron curtain and the Berlin wall.
Standing in Treptower Park in an area that was once East Berlin it seems remarkably quiet considering that there is a main road not so far away. It’s not quiet actually, it’s still.
Almost too still.
This adds to the eeriness of the place and the awkward feeling that the giant statue and centre piece of the park gives you as it stares deep into you.
The statue and park which is the East German war memorial is a reminder of the battle against fascism.
The soldier holds a child he has saved and clutches a sword; under his feet are the remains of a shattered swastika.
Powerful and emblematic stuff.
While I stand here looking I wonder how the people of East Berlin must have felt as their country plummeted towards economic ruin and isolationism from all but the soviets.
How did they feel seeing gigantic statues erected while they struggled with everyday life?
I shift m gaze over to the iron fence and see many parts have been removed, vandalised and stolen. Presumably melted down and recycled in harsher times.
Treptower Park also seems a little out of place as it is the Soviet Cenotaph commemorating the 80,000 Soviet soldiers who lost their lives in the Battle for Berlin.
It doesn’t seem like a German liberation statue or monument at all.
When it was opened in1949 the world was a very different place. East German citizens were getting used to a life divided from friends, relatives and soon their own country.
When I leave after exploring inside the monument and around I feel like I needed to know a little more but there was a lack of information. It seems that Berliners do not visit this place and it is almost forgotten and hidden amongst the trees.
Almost abandoned like the Spreepark derelict amusement park in the woods not far away.
I wander back along the river Spree and see it for myself. Large fences erected and signs saying keep out.
Rotting bumper cars and a falling down dilapidated circus big top. Large fibre glass dinosaurs standing covered in moss looking forlorn and having seen better days.
Then I see something that still to this day is one of the spookiest and creepiest things I have ever seen.
The large abandoned Ferris wheel is turning and creaking. Not just moving in the wind, fully rotating.
Through the quiet of the woods you can hear it creak and crunch and hum of a motor.
I walk back to central Berlin in need of a good German beer. But all my head can think of is why was it turning and did someone break in to turn it on?
Too many unanswered questions for one day.


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