Berlin in the Spring: Report, Part 4

Report by Charlotte Schatz

[Ed. note: Philadelphia artist Charlotte Schatz made a trip to Berlin, Lyon and Paris this spring and wrote these lively reports on her visit. The first four posts will cover her time in Berlin.]

No art talk today though we did go to the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum and a gallery crawl.

I want to tell you what a really lovely city this is. There are parks everywhere. The old East German apartment blocks have been or are being converted into colorful, balconied buildings.They have charming inner courtyards called Hofs with outdoor restaurants abounding. We have seen three Synogogues all guarded by the Polizei. We went to the Mauer (Wall) Museum where you can look down on the area where the wall existed and see parts of it. It’s a big part of life here because there are many remnants, memories and things left over from life in the East. I was asking if the Holocaust was as well studied and remembered. Robert tells me there is a chronological history and photos of the people involved in the Third Reich which will have a building in a few years. There is the Holocaust Memorial just behind the new American Embassy and the Brandeburg Gate. Everyone knows that Paris is a lovely city but my visit here clearly indicates that Berlin in becoming a lovely as well as impressive city.

Anselm Kiefer's "Library" installed in the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum devoted to contemporary art.
Anselm Kiefer’s “Library” installed in the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum devoted to contemporary art.

When I think about Phila and some of our US cities that seem so fragmented, it is in stark contrast to this city which seems so together. We ate lunch outside the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum alongside a canal which had bike routes on either side, being used by all kinds of people nearby a spot where one could pick up a public bike and go for a ride. Why can’t Phila get its waterfront developed and used like Berlin. And this is only one of many recreational sites used by the
public. This is not a rich city. There is not a lot of money here. But whatever they are doing is producing a human place. I realize the irony of that statement. The public transportation is widely used by EVERYONE, Turk, German and tourist as well. It is a smooth running, clearly understandable system. We have been all over this city on all kinds of transport. On almost every block, there are people sitting in the sunshine, eating at outdoor restaurants or cafes.

I’m off to Lyon tomorrow. The weather here has been gorgeous but promises to not continue in France. So, I will continue from France.
xoxxo and regards,

Charlotte Schatz is a Philadelphia painter and sculptor. Read Parts 3, 2 and 1.