ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Berlin: A Photo Essay

This is a purely impressionistic set of images of Berlin – chronicling my own relationship to a city that I had never visited before last month, but felt I knew intimately – through books, films and its own complex, and rapidly transforming, public history. It is also, in my own way, a tribute to one of its greatest sons – Walter Benjamin – whose own chronicling of his childhood in this city is whimsical, yet evocative. 

Section 1
 
THE LEFT
 
 
Memorial to Rosa Luxemburg, one of the founders of the German Kommunist Party,  at the edge of Tiergarten. This is probably the place where she was thrown into the canal after being killed by Weimar police.
 
 
Treptower Park Memorial and Cemetery, 1945
(to the Soviet soldiers who fought fascism; more than 5000 soldiers are buried here; photos 3 - 6)
 
 
 
 
 
Section II

THE RIGHT

1

 

The Anhalter Bahnhof (Station) was one of the three stations in Berlin used to deport Jews, and other prisoners, to concentration camps

2

Following photographs, including this one, are from the ‘Topography of Terror’ museum. Between 1933 and 1945, the main institutions of Nazi persecution and terror – the Secret State Police Office with its own “house prison,” the leadership of the SS and, during the Second World War, the Reich Security Main Office –  were located here. 

3

 

4

5

6

A contemporary reminder of times past

Section III

 

REMEMBRANCE: QUIET MEMORIALS AND THE ANTI MONUMENTAL MODE OF GRIEVING

1

 

The Gleis 17 memorial in Grunewald is one of the most moving memorials to the millions of Jews killed in the Holocaust. Gleis, or Platform, 17 was the platform in Grunewald station, Berlin, from where trains routinely departed, deporting Berlin Jews to concentration camps in Auschwitz and Theresienstadt. Grunewald district in the west of Berlin was home to many prosperous Jewish people, including Walter Benjamin’s father. It is a chilling reminder of how the “final solution” was executed, even as “normal” life continued, all around, routinely.

2

3

4

Sculpture by Karol Broniatowski at the Gleis 17 Memorial, Gruenwald station, Berlin 

5

Peter Eisenmann’s memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe, Potsdamer Platz

6

Daniel Libeskind’s “Holocaust Tower”, Jewish Museum, Berlin

7

Memorial to the Roma and the Sinti killed in concentration camps

8

Memorial to books burnt by the Nazis: an empty shelf, underground…..

9

Section IV

THE BREACH – THE BERLIN WALL 

1

2

3

The largest stretch of the wall that is still intact is in Bernau Strasse

4

Border policeman Conrad Schumann fleeing to the West in 1961

Section V

THE “EAST” – LEFTOVERS, AND IMPRESSIONS 

1

The grand avenue where the GDR held its parades

2

A throwback to another era…..

3

4

Ideology: GDR

5

A surveillance camera hidden in a tree trunk

6

7

8

Board room the Stasi Headquarters

9

Radio with permitted channels marked out

 

Section VI

CITY LIGHTS

1

Potsdamer Platz: a modern day version of Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis’

2 and 3

An Korean Immigrant Woman’s Representation of her Experiences in Germany: FXHB Museum, Kreuzeberg

Graffiti and Street Art: The City Speaks Back

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

About Author

G. Arunima (arunima@jnu.ac.in) is a historian by training, and teaches at the Centre for Women’s Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University. She has researched and written on different areas of social and cultural history, including family and kinship; aesthetics and visuality; and more recently religion and faith practices.
Back to Top