Berlin is a city that has suffered through a lot of difficult times. Just think of all those people that starved to death in the years of World War I, the terror and loss during the Nazi regime, the devastating destruction by bombs and fire in World War II, the years of the devision, the heartbreak of separation and all those killed trying to cross the Berlin Wall. The scars of these times run deep and are still visible. When times are tough Berliners will surely complain, be grumpy, be stubborn. But they always keep on going. They stick together.
Especially the re-unification, even though it was a process that took much longer than just the fall of the Berlin Wall, created a sense of togetherness that you can feel now more than ever. No matter how different they are from each other, if it matters they stand together, strong and unapologetic.
In the days after the tragedy on the Christmas market I saw quite a few articles that dealt with the reactions of the Berliners and how they were quite “unimpressed”. People shared these pieces, proudly even. Only for one day the Christmas markets were closed to respect the dead. But after that everything went on as usual, the streets were busy, the markets filling up again. I even saw this reflected in my own circles, and the faces I saw in the streets. I think at first this comes off as cold and unsympathetic. The reaction to other tragedies this year was quite different. But when you think about it, this a quite typical for the Berliner. They are quite rational. And despite the fact that this was sad and shocking they don’t wallow in it, they realized this is not going to influence them further, Christmas is still happening, their normal lives are still happening. They will continue to help those in need. They will continue to stand up against the right-wing populism. They will continue to be their quirky, happy, grumpy selves, no matter what.
They are not afraid, because the are together.