Until the other night I had always thought that the only Communist country I had ever visited had beenthe Peoples Republic Of Hungary and I have always regretted not having visited the DDR before the Wall fell. Although being able to remember late 70's Britain in all its grey British Leyland genteel Trotskyite Cardigan Wearing miserableness probably comes a close second. Freedom For Tooting and all that.
Now it seems I did set foot, by about a foot, on another bit of Soviet Soil. Back when I went on a school exchange to Germany we got taken to see the Lower Saxonian bit of 'The Wall'-which was actually a razor wire fence running through middle of the countryside...tastefully decorated on the East German side with watchtowers, minefields and Death Strips and on the West German side with a log.
Made a big impression on me. They also gave us a booklet with this diagram, or one very similar, in it:
What I didn't realise until I looked at it was that the actual border was totally unprotected , that 'The Wall' protecting The Workers And Peasants State from us evil capitalist offspring was infact way into DDR terror-itory. I've checked other places too now and its right-after the 'black dog bones' on the diagram you was in the DDR.
I also now realise why the teachers ripped us a new one for ducking under the log and trying to get up to the actual wire.
[The original German Slogan speaks of 'Beef Kune' but that doesn't mean much to a Brit. ]
Welcome to the pasture. You'd be forgiven for thinking that the two days of sunshine this summer has caused
everyone in Brit Shire to take full and complete leave of their senses...if they had any to start with. Armed Policey men, Anti Terror Units, the Special Boat Service and the fucking Tufty Club were called out to take down a 'Vaper'.
'Du tust mir weh' is German for 'you cause me pain/you're hurting me'.
The Americans say that if you tilted their country then everything loose would roll towards 'Cali'. In Europe though the scum and jetsam tend to rise to congeal in Hamburg. More lost souls on the Reeperbahn than in Purgatory and the ambiance is similar-burn Baby burn.
I ended up dossing in Hamburg one summer, back when I was 17. A mate let me crash in the house he'd bought and was renovating. He had gutted it back to what Germans call the 'raw' and I had to flush the toilet bowel he'd quickly jerry rigged in with a bucket. I slept on a pile of brick dust and old newspapers. Wasn't warm but it was dry.
The house lay on the Wilhelm Raabe Way. To my shame the only reason I even recall the name of the road isn't because of Herr Raabe's fame but simply because 'Raabe' is almost the German word for 'raven' and that was one of the few German words I knew....having admired the street sign and figure on Hamburg's 'Old Raven Street' a few days before. Raabe Way itself runs along side Hamburg Airport and was separated from it by a simple metal fence for security- back when German Terrorists were both German and also had no religious scruples about wearing tight jeans...so the fence probably didn't need to be all that high.
There is always some remnant of Evil waiting to ruin your day.
One of the few things I dislike about Germany is that there is always something lurking in the deep dark pine forest of recent history. The troll of genocide turned to stone yet still imbued with all its evil and waiting....Cthulhu like...not dead but not simply asleep.
So long story shortened, this morning I went on google streetview to try and find the house I stayed in back then when I still had hair.Found I recognised the road still but all the houses have been renovated and turned into flats, painted white and had extensions built. My memories aren't accurate enough to allow me to recognise the few original features left. Oh well, it means at least I don't need to bother making another one of my 'Pilgrimages'-revisting the places of my youth.
While I was on Streetview though I clicked 'photos of the area' and found this page and this post's picture of a 'shed' off Wilhelm Raabe Way.
photographer has labeled it 'Zwangsarbeiterbaracke' which means Forced
Labour Barrack ie where the forced labourers of the Nazi Era had to
live...if the word 'live' can be used at all.I then practiced my photoshopping skills on to make it look like it came from an old newspaper....because even though run down the 'shed' still had a slight feeling of "gaudy gypsy musicians painted on the side of a windowless bus" such as the Nazis used as mobile Gas Chambers.
Now I don't know if the shed in the picture is really one such surviving stationary Cattle Truck. The photographer may have been making any number of political points about the labour used in the last major overall of the Airport in 2005ish or modern German Immigration policies but there are reasons for me to think it may really be a vestige of the worst part of German history.
The history of Hamburg Airport during the Nazi years was conveniently *cough* 'lost'...a fire supposedly.What is known is that it was totally remodeled, thousands of trees planted, huge mats of vegetation as camouflage against the Allied surveillance flights. The Nazis did everything they could to make it look a scene of North German bucolicalness-they probably even had herds of cows grazing- and as Hamburg Airport was untouched by the bombing that flattened the City otherwise it seems to have worked.
All that tree planting and earth working would have required labourers and military style barracks would have given the game away so its entirely credible to my mind that the shed was built to resemble the traditional German country style of half timbered wattle 'n daub.
It looks like it has been used since the war as someone's allotment house and tool shed. No doubt someone somewhere,who grew up on Wilhelm Raabe way after the war, has happy childhood memories of playing there.
A 'designated Smokers (Lepers?) zone' in the middle of a cliff top park that is so well ventilated by the North Sea From-Siberia-With-Love wind that the trees grow a tilt and they are erecting a huge windpark out at sea just to the right of the picture?!
Actually it's probably just a case of the council reusing event fencing to screen off renovation work -cos that shelter contravenes the 50% exposed-to-the-elements law for smoking shelters!
Last night Gmail changed my accounts over to the compulsory New Look. Yeah, I know, Kids are dying in Africa and the entire internet bitching about Gmail New Look is a very First World problem.I know that it is a free service and that I should stop being a lil' Bitch and just suck it up.
But I can't.
You don't fuck with a man's 'ride' nor his car nor his bike and you fuck with another man's email program at your peril.
I've been with Gmail since the 'Beta' really meant 'Beta' and you had to beg an invite from someone. Google developed an email program that kicked all the others -'hotmail' and 'AOL' to the kerb. Does anyone remember 'Yahoo'? Remember having to PAY real actual money for storage? Remember emails that would take longer than Royal Mail to get where they needed to get? Remember having to configure an Email Client?
My entire Online Life is built on Gmail. Just about everything I do uses it or another Google product. Blogger,Reader, Ebay, Pay Pal, Google Docs, My Cell Phone. They own my soul, their Servers are the Cross Roads Demon I signed on the dotted line for. I was looking forward to the day when bandwidth would mean never having to install another piece of software on my laptop.
I wish I could simply say 'Fuck You, Gmail' but I can't. My only hope is that someone very soon will come up either with a 'Classic Theme' or a hack.
Don't Be Evil? Don't make me laugh you Wankers. "Maybe even Fun?" No it isn't, and that's the killer punch..since midnight last night I no longer enjoy using email. Its become something to avoid, a chore.
On the 19:00 German News last night , Petra Gerster informed us that the UN would be sending 'Ape-less' Observers to Syria! Made me laugh anyways. [the German words for 'unarmed' and for 'un-ape-d' being different by only a 'w'].