Some months back, we (meaning my parents & self) were invited to celebrate an 80th birthday in Berlin on December 20th. When we gladly accepted, we thought, might as well arrive a day earlier to stroll through Christmas season Berlin. Which is what we did.
You can guess where this story is going.
(Unless you managed to miss the news entirely. If so, good for you.) Now we, personally, were incredibly lucky. My parents were at the Christmas fair at Breitscheidplatz but an hour before the attack happened; we were telephoning at the time, because we had split up - I was visiting the Jewish Museum to catch a new exhibition there, had to switch off my phone, and wanted to tell them as much in case they'd be trying to reach me in the next two hours. Earlier, we'd visited another of the countless Berlin Christmas fairs, the one at the Gendarmenmarkt, and I had thought about going to the one near the Kaiser-Wilhelm-GedĂ¤chtniskirche as well but changed my mind and chose the Jewish Museum instead. My parents & self were all back in our hotel rooms, happily exhausted after an afternoon in Christmassy Berlin, and checking with emails, when the first news about the attack showed up on twitter. If I hadn't gone to tell my parents I was back as well, I'd assumed they might still be there, but again, I was lucky: I already knew they were safe, and they knew I was. Everyone else, though. Oh, everyone else.
Yesterday, we spent the morning walking around numb and clutching at each other, alternatingly grieved for the victims and increasingly infuriated at the vultures from abroad (the usual suspects) and from within the country (Horst Seehofer, making me throw up for about the 1000th time this year) who were yet again using demagogery and hate. Then the birthday happened, which started with everyone standing up in honor of the victims; the speeches all tackled the subject as well. In the evening, we watched the mourning service at the GedĂ¤chtniskirche again from our hotel rooms (it was far too crowded to get into the church itself); it was the opposite of the demagogic soundbites, with the Protestant and Catholic bishops as well as a Rabbi and two Imans all speaking of grief and
of the importance to not let our values be taken away as well. One of the Advent songs sung was by Jochen Klepper, a German theologian and writer who'd refused to divorce his Jewish wife and, when she was to be deported, committed suicide with her. The song, which inspired some of the speeches, was about both night, and the hope that there will be light again, the proverbial star as hope in the darkest night. Which summed up sounds clichĂ©d, but believe me, in that service, it felt anything but.
Today, we returned to Bamberg. Below the cut I offer some more of the pictures I made both before and after the attack, of Berlin, the city with already much darkness in its history, but also light. ( Read more... )