It was in Berlin 9th of November 1989, the day the ”Mauer” (the wall) came down. At this time I was a film student at the Berliner film school DFFB (German Film and TV Academy). We were living with my recently born son and my wife on top of the Berliner ”escape museum” at Checkpoint Charlie. To maintain my studies and my family I was part time working as a camera assistant for the news department of the ZDF (German second TV channel), but the correspondent studio was based in the east side of Berlin. In the Ex DDR.
This morning I took my car, drove through the checkpoint, 500 meters further on, to our east side studios, smiled to the STASI (east Germanys secret service) guys just in front on the other side of the street, who were always starring at us through their windows, and went into the studio.
As you know, these were troubled days. Everybody in the studio knew, that in any moment something really heavy could happen. And it happened in the afternoon, when East German top politician Guenter Schabowski suddenly announced in this famous press conference that any citizen of East Germany (DDR) could freely cross from now on the border to the West.
The Sony Betacam cameras in 1989 didn’t have an image stabilizer and the tripods were shaking as we were filming one of world human history most important moments.
In the evening with friends we went to Moritzplatz in Kreuzberg and were watching the crazy crowd coming out of the East. That was very very impressing and moving, how all these people came out from there, crossing over to their beloved free West, expecting from Capitalism who knows what dreams. Some of the people who were welcoming them on the West side were showing up Bananas, as an ironic symbol of what was waiting for them in the West (in East Germany you couldn’t buy Bananas in these times). Berliners can be quite sarcastic.
But for me the thing that marked that very day forever happened later in the night: We went to our always Bar, the Ex and Pop, between Kreuzberg and Schoeneberg, run by Harry Hass (”Harry Hate”, a genius writer of the dark Berliner scene) and his wife Evelyn. It was an emblematic Berliner Bar, in these times it was THE Bar. The first decoration when they had opened the Bar, has been burning the interior down and leaving it like this. The guys from the Bad Seeds (Nick Cave), Einstuerzende Neubauten, Die Haut etc., were oftentimes around, and playing there. So, that night the Ex and Pop was packed with people, everybody was there.
People were crying tears, when Bruno a neighbor and friend of the Bar, a mentally disabled man was singing old german songs accompanied by his accordion on the small stage. Bruno was found as a baby in the streets of Berlin right after the war (a ”Findelkind”) after his prostitute mother had abandoned him. He was raised in several orphanages for mentally disabled people. Some might remember him, he was the main actor in Werner Herzogs amazing film about that child that was found in a pig stall after having been living there abandoned for over 20 years, the film is called The enigma of Kasper Hauser.
There couldn’t be a better guy to express everybody’s overwhelming feelings of this moment.
And then it happened: the door opened and a dozen Skinheads dropped in and jumped on the stage, pushing Bruno aside. They were Nazi-Skins from the East! Can you imagine? They had just crossed the border for the first time in their life’s and were screaming, how happy they were, that they finally found a free place were they make ”real and true German music”!!!
And then they started to sing THEIR German songs…!
Oh, boy, they got it all wrong. For a few seconds people were shocked to freeze starring at this surrealistic scenery.
Tiny little Harry Hass was the first: he jumped over the Bar onto the stage, punched the main big Nazi-Skin guy straight into his face, through him down the stage and what happened then ended up in a huge and massive mess.
This was how I lived that day
Big big thanks to Lucian for letting me share his wunderbaren life story =)
and Personal-View’s forum leader Vitaliy Kiselev • gashô
Big long respectful absolutely felt gashô for Mr. Nelson Mandela, the departure of a great heart has left the world colder (snif)