The Memories of the Holocaust in the Streets of Berlin


photo: Norman Poznan

How can you live in a building having such a history? One of my friends whatsapped me, after I told him about my neighbor, Flora Friedel Brandt. I get that a lot from people, how can I live in a city like Berlin, as a Jew, as an Israeli. How can I live in a city that didn’t want us before, that sent Flora away from here.

Flora Friedel Brandt was born as Flora Friedel Silber, on October 11, 1866. Flora was a Jew, a Berliner. Fire, she was living in Schöneberg in West Berlin. Then she moved to Wedding, “Little Turkey” of today. Finally, she had moved to Pappelallee 3 in Prenzlauer Berg at the east side of Berlin. Where she lived until Tuesday, June 16, 1942, when Nazi soldiers entered her building to take her. The soldiers evacuated Flora from her home, and sent her 260 kilometers south, to Theresienstadt Ghetto, in modern Czechoslovakia.

Theresienstadt Ghetto was flora’s new home for three months, until September 19, 1942. On that day, along with many other Jews, she was crammed into a beef freight train. The train was heading to a destination unknown to any of its passengers.

I find it hard to believe that Flora trusted the soldiers who told her she was heading to a new work camp, as she was boarding this crammed freight train, on a Saturday, going about 700 kilometers east, to the Treblinka Death Camp.

by Guest Author
on May 24th, 2017
in Stories

Staying Safe and Getting Help in Berlin


photos: Frailfail

Part of my answer to ‘what draws you to Berlin?’ is it being this exciting metropolis where all cultures mix and interact. Life here changes from one minute to the other, making each day a unique experience that keeps me on edge, as I try to be part of everything the city offers.

This lifestyle, however, doesn’t only have a positive side to it. This constant business and change can be overwhelming and stressful, turning the fairy tale into a nightmare. In big cities like Berlin, where the levels of excitement, challenges, temptations are always on max, it should be our primary concern that we keep ourselves safe, maintaining our peace no matter what; ‘When we love ourselves we can love others’, and other Eat Pray Love cliches, in this case stand surprisingly true. There is absolutely no shame in getting help, us is all we got,  so our well being should come before any fear of mom, friend, employer being judgmental. Sometimes it’s little things we need to do to decompress, like jogging, meditating, knitting, whatever works. Other times though, balance is a bit harder to find: Instead of ignoring the signs or avoiding it, we owe ourselves to reach out to a professional helping hand, and Berlin gives us quite a few options to help us get back on track.

Stella by Stella
on May 23rd, 2017
in Stories

Berlin Life Outside the Ring

Life Outside the Ring-2509

“Where?” – It is often the reaction when I say where I live. And when I repeat “Botanischer Garten”, close to Dahlem, Rathaus Steglitz and Zehlendorf people are normally amazed and wonder why I chose to live in an area far away from the center, away from the parties and predominantly residential. Sure, it is not multicultural Kreuzberg or dynamic Friedrichshain, but it is a safe zone where colorful flowers blossom in the sidewalks and old ladies greet you with a smile. And if you think this is a lame reason then you should try the Johannisbeere flavor at Lauter Eis, the ice cream shop in Hortensienstraße. It gets me every time.

I am not going to lie and say this is the neighborhood I dreamt of living when I first moved back in October. In fact, I had a completely different idea of where I was going to live – I envisioned myself sharing a flat in Prenzlauer Berg with one or two roommates, in a relatively close area to my university. However, as I quickly learned, finding a house in Berlin is a nightmare. And it gets worse when you delay the problem because you are too busy counting flies on the wall. Often a temporary solution is to crash on friends’ sofas or stay at shady hostels, and until you find your castle you have to kiss some very unpleasant frogs.

by Guest Author
on May 22nd, 2017
in Dahlem, Stories

Turning your Love Affair to Berlin into a Relationship

Berlin Affair-9156

We all have a story we cannot wait to share, of how we met and fell head over heels with Berlin. Arriving here for the first time, with no mental images or expectations in mind, I found myself observing every little thing in awe: cultures from every corner of the globe coexisting in such an interesting, diverse way, the insane nightlife which often becomes  night-and-the-next-day-and-the-next-nightlife, its tolerance of everything that’s different or doesn’t fit in; all freaks find a safe haven here.I liked its chillness and its vibe, and finally was like, I’ve nothing to lose, I’ll date Berlin for a while; and it’s not until I had to leave that I felt magnetized,the thought in my head being: I keep thinking about Berlin. Maybe  I should  call Berlin again.

It’s not once or twice one hears this story: ‘I visited Berlin and fell in love with it.’ ‘Wow, Berlin! Such a good time I definitely wanna go back there!’ But where is the line actually being drawn between, Berlin was a good one night stand, and Berlin being the One? As in every relationship, an evaluation has to take place. Of course, choosing this partner often means leaving a lot of your previous life behind; and dealing with the unfamiliarity of it can be a pain too: the language, the lifestyle, the pace of the city can all be factors to discourage you. But how can you go on, knowing you’ve found something so special, but you’re too afraid? As Monica did before marrying Chandler, you have to weigh the pros and cons.

Stella by Stella
on May 11th, 2017
in Stories

A Farewell Letter to Kaisers

Kaiser Farewell Frowny

Dear Kaisers,

I cannot believe that you have passed, brutally chucked to the ground by your mean, giant stepbrothers  EDEKA and REWE. You have been around since 1881 surviving generations of hungry Berliners. You were there all this time, always serving the best food for us, always looking for the best price/performance ratio in town, and even serving us liquor at times when none of your family members cared anymore. You said farewell to the actual last emperor, you survived the most dreadful wars, you saw walls rise and fall and we just took you for granted all this time. But now, now you are gone. Kaisers – we will miss you!

Kaisers, it didn’t matter what neighborhood my life would take me to, you would always be there and greet me at least twice from Marzahn to Zehlendorf. Sometimes I knew, but sometimes you would just take me by surprise. But, you would always bring a smile to my face when I spotted you in that cute ‘lil red outfit of yours with that sweet teapot symbol. No one could pull of a ‘lil teapot symbol the way you did. Not in their wildest dreams would your siblings go for this bold styling statetment – ever! They would just look silly. But you didn’t!

Andy by Andy
on May 5th, 2017
in Stories

100 Years of History of May Day in Berlin

Berlin, Maidemonstration der SPD

photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-09700 / CC BY-SA 3.0

The First of May, that’s when there is a big street party in Berlin, right? Kind of. While the MyFest in Kreuzberg really feels like a big street festival with food stands, concerts and DJs playing in the streets it wasn’t always quite as cheerful and fun-oriented. The Labor Day has its origin in the USA in the late 19th century where it was among other things about the introduction of the 8h workday. There were attempts to establish it Germany in 1919, but it wasn’t until the Nazi time in the 30s that it became an official public holiday that it remained until today. Over the decades it changed its character from festive parades, political demonstrations to violent revolts. Here in Berlin the First of May was associated with aggressive protests, massive police force and burning cars in Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg until the late 2010s. The actual meaning of it feels pretty much lost by now when you look at what’s going on at the MyFest at present day even though there is still enough to protest and rebel against.

Below a photography review of 100 years of the First of May in Berlin.

Frank by Frank
on April 30th, 2017
in Stories

Dating in Berlin: Lost in Translation


illustrations: Berk Karaoglu

Prior to moving to Berlin I never thought about how important language was when attempting to get to know someone better, particularly while dating. I always dated guys whose native language was English, American English at that. As if dating wasn’t confusing enough, try dating someone who doesn’t dream in the same damn language as you. It wasn’t until I started dating guys from around the world did I begin to understand how uncomfortable it felt not to be able to fully express myself. But, was this necessarily a bad thing?

Sure, when you speak the same language, you understand one another on a molecular level. You share the same phrases to describe mundane situations. You can even talk about your feelings (yuck!) until the cows come home…UM, WHAT?  That was all fine and good, but I still wasn’t convinced that the benefits of speaking the same mother tongue outweighed the surmounting disadvantages.

by Guest Author
on April 24th, 2017
in Stories

To You, a Berlin Newcomer

Boxhagener Platz

To You, brave adventurer who is in Berlin for the first time and who has left his comfort zone for a fresh new start and brand new experiences.
Let’s assume you have managed to pass the test of finding a permanent home, one of the worst nightmares of all the new Berliners, have one or two acquaintances in the city (even if it is the son of your grandfather Julius’s cousin that you have never heard of before but know he has three Siamese cats) and have already planned on how to get a job or to go further in your education. You have everything outlined and you are all excited – “This will the BEST time of my life”, you think, “Berghain, I will destroy you with my dance moves” – however, when you arrive (with a big smile on your face and high expectations), you see that things are not quite what you have imagine they would be. The son of your grandfather Julius’s cousin is not that interested in showing you around, maybe because he is too busy or simply because he is a jerk, getting a job is harder than you have imagined and you feel lonely at times.

by Guest Author
on April 20th, 2017
in Stories

The Pleasures and Pains of Juggling 5 Jobs in Berlin

5 jobs illustration

One of my few Facebook statuses that actually got a decent amount of likes read that the hardest kind of threesome to be arranged in Berlin is when you’re struggling to get both the person who’s selling whatever heavyweight furniture you want and the guy that has a van to transport it to meet you at a time that you happen to be free. And I’ve been standing by this belief for quite a time, when Berlin decided to once again mercilessly prove to me that I really don’t know life at all.

I still don’t regard organizing a threeway as a particular challenge in a city where your trusted dress code for some clubs is either kinky or naked. What kind of feels like one, though, is scheduling your week with five different part time jobs.

Michalina by Michalina
on April 18th, 2017
in Stories

Berlin is… Blossoming

Spring Blossoms in Berlin-6

There is this one time in the year when even Berlin seems innocent. Although we all know what it’s been up to during the cold fall and winter nights, when its untamed inhabitants, unable to express their joys and sorrows under the clear blue sky had to confine themselves in the limiting areas sheltering them from the cold. We all know the overwhelming contrast of a freezing Berlin night and the literally breathtaking heat of the dance floor.

Well then, a blissful spring afternoon makes one forget about all winter sins. We tend to fall into the good old trap of starting anew again. Even if you’re wised up enough to realize that this kind of thinking has usually more of the fooling yourself factor than that of an actual resolution, spring makes it easier to come to terms with your inner mess and hopefully think of some measures to organize it a little bit.

Michalina by Michalina
on April 14th, 2017
in Photos, Stories