The last 10 days of our stay were spent in Berlin, Germany. We walked the line of the Wall, visited many museums, spoke with East- and West Berliners and invited them over for dinner, which we cooked in our apartment in Pankow, were we also had our studio. We created a wall length timeline (from 1945 till 2011) that linked our personal experience to world historical events and invited our guests to add to it. We improvised with this material and created texts based on existing texts and our personal writings.
We walked down to the Brandenburger Tor (Brandenberg Gate) with 7000 people during Occupy Berlin and had many conversations that gave us insights in the effects of the Cold War on every day life, right now, in Berlin and our own lives in the Netherlands and America.
Excerpt form an interview with women from Paula Panke, a women’s center in East Berlin.
“I lived in a very small village. My grandfather went to war and came back a changed man: he never wanted to talk about it. We never talked about politics. We were very poor, no running water or toilet in the house, but we had a garden and we had enough to eat. We were happy.
After the Wall fell our teachers started teaching us about the rest of the world. From one day to the next the socialist system was not the only possible, right system anymore. I could not understand it. I could not believe in my teacher anymore. It was as if we all had migrated to another country, only, we had not moved at all.”
R.“My father fought with the Nazi’s on the Russian front. To protect his soul from further damage he shot himself in the arm. He got well and was sent to France to fight the Americans. I was conceived on a war holiday. My father was captured by the Americans and sent to prison for 2 years. I didn’t see my father till 1947, when he came out of the Prisoner Of War camp.”
“Kaestner means box-maker. My family made the first safes. I am from a village in Saxony, in East Germany. It has been there for over a thousand years. My great grandfather lost his toes. They froze off in the winter in Russia during the Second World War. Since then he is a lousy dancer.”