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Thu, 03/20/2014

Is Berlin Still the Place to Be?

„Berlin is Over. What’s Next?“ the not to be taken seriously website titled last month. The headline caused severe shock waves in Berlin's media and a South German newspaper took the occasion to take a closer look on Berlin's to tourism. The shock waves were triggered by an article on which again was just a conclusion of a lengthy article in the Rolling Stone about Berlin's most famous techno club Berghain and how it has developed over the past years as well as an article in the New York Times comparing Berlin with Brooklyn. Neither the Berghain nor the conclusions of the article are everyone's taste. Undeniably, however, that the DJs spinning at Berghain have crucially shaped the European and global techno scene. That this is to change someday – and not necessarily in a negative sense – is the natural course of all things. And actually there are people who could not care less. The only question is whether that is so incredibly bad respectively what you make of it. For die-hard techno friends Berlin may therefore no longer be the first address but in fact the Berghain never saw itself as a tourist club, and there are plenty of other clubs in Berlin.

Almost simultaneously to the article in the Rolling Stone magazine the already mentioned article in the New York Times was published in which Berlin is being described as "the place to be." Now, what? There is no question that Berlin has still a tremendous charisma – and probably always will. Especially in recent years, many young people from Spain, Italy and Greece fell for Berlin because they see no future in their home countries and therefore try their luck in Berlin. Just the other week I met some people who previously lived and worked in Barcelona. But they felt not welcome there anymore and hence decided to move to Berlin, which has an enormous scene of creative people from the fields of film, theater, graphics, games, music, etc..

The attraction of Berlin is nourished primarily from the great freedoms and opportunities that we have here. At the same time the city is much cheaper than other big cities. You get here twice as much beer for your money than in France or New York City and can live much cheaper. In addition, there is much to see and experience in Berlin. On the one hand, there its huge selection of museums and cultural events for anybody's taste throughout the year, but also its history, which can not produce any other city in the world. There are witnesses of the 3. Reich and witnesses of the GDR past, that people come and look for to help them understand what happened then. But with German thoroughness these witnesses were partially destroyed, hidden or cleaned out as monuments. This leads to bizarre situations. The Führerbunker, the bunker where Hitler and his entourage were surrounded by the Red Army, and ultimately died, was "hidden" for years. But tourists asked for it and now there is an information board at the site. However, you can only see the back yard of a new building and garbage cans where the remains of the bunker lie underneath. The Berlin Wall was so thoroughly removed that at one time one could come to think that it never existed. With great effort the original location of the Berlin Wall was later marked throughout the inner city with a line mainly made of cobble stone. The East Side Gallery is sold as the Berlin Wall, but it is not the real thing. It is a so-called backland wall, which should ensure that refugees did not jump into the river Spree and swam to West Berlin which began on the other bank. Also the pictures are on the wrong side of the wall. Only the side of the Wall facing West Berlin territory was used as a huge canvas. The real Berlin Wall is gone. There are very little remains of which the most authentic stands close to Potsdamer Platz.

Berlin is a city that inspires and allows all lifestyles. Now that summer begins this will become more visible than ever. People sit outside in the sun, talk, do things together, have fun. Berlin has always been a place where people could find their happiness. This was so in the roaring twenties, when many Russians came to Berlin, during the Cold War, when Kreuzberg in West Berlin, but also parts of East Berlin, were paradises for artists, punks and drop-outs was all kinds. That has not changed since the fall of the wall. Thus Berlin is still the place to be – and it will always be. Times change, even for Berlin, but the framework for that what Berlin really is remains intact over decades.

But Berlin poses a danger: who drifts too much could get into a maelstrom from which it is difficult to get out again. In 2012 the Australian musician Robert Coleman wrote in the New York Times that while being in Berlin he got in an "Artist Paradox": “We had gone to Berlin because of the lifestyle it offered to artists, yet we were coming unstuck by that exact lifestyle. Berlin was ruining us." Consequently he went back to Down Under. But Berlin had made his mark upon him - as it will on everybody who experiences this city in which everything is still possible.


To see pictures of some of the aforementioned sights please turn our picture gallery “Travel Destination Berlin” on our Facebook page.