Sunday, April 7, 2013


Brandenburg Gate seen from the West, looking East.

East and West have played such important roles in the recent history of this fascinating city. Seminal events of the modern era took place in the nooks and crannies of the newly-vibrant metropolis. It all seems so at odds with modern Berlin but some of the most sinister and anxiety-provoking institutions of all time were birthed or found fertile ground here: the Nazi party, Fascism, Gestapo, SS, Stasi, Stormtrooper, Black Shirts, Brown Shirts, Swastika (originally a benign, positive symbol with roots in Buddhism), the Third Reich, der Fuhrer, Aryanism, "extermination", ethnic cleansing. The term "nationalism" reached a connotative nadir under the regime whose heart beat in Berlin.

Here, places became characters with leading roles on the world stage. Yet oddly, on a brisk sunny day in April 2013, those key characters sit silently and smugly defy us to ignore or forget the monumentality of the lessons they taught.

"Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it."

My first impression of the city, the characters, both human and inanimate, the "vibe" of it all?

Fascinating. Utterly fascinating

And as I watched the late news from BBC1 before retiring, did I see prophetic echoes of the Third Reich yet in other parts of our world?: Goose-stepping troops fronted by a borderline personality who leads an "also-ran" Nation with delusions of grandeur. Unfortunately, this ticking time-bomb has limited range nuclear capabilities.

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