13 June 2015

History etc

Coincidentally, friends from London are in town, so they came over for breakfast at our "breakfast caf" - which in its courtyard garden has many shady tables and even a swing seat -
The tour of the neighbourhood included places mentioned in previous posts, and a new one - party shop extraordinaire, Deko Behrendt, which the "111 places" book describes as "a place that puts you in a good mood". There are lots of "novelties", decoration, costumes, headgear. It seems that regional costume, fine wear of great variety in ages past and lovingly hand made, has morphed into a national costume of another sort -
After a short bus ride, a longer walk down Unter den Linden, via Wilhelmstrasse, the home of government since Prussian days. All the ruins of goverment buildings were demolished in the 1950s (it was in East Berlin then), but now there are information posters about the various buildings that once stood there.

Also, various texts set into the pavement -
"I wanted to avert the war" - Georg Elser
Georg Elser attempted to assassinate Hitler in November 1939; he was held prisoner for five years, until executed at Dachau in April 1945.

In the 1980s these "high quality prefabricated" residential buildings went up on Wilhelmstrasse -
Unter den Linden is almost as afflicted by road disruption now as it was when we were here three years ago -
At the Deutsches Historisches Museum, which we had visited last time and seen a wonderful exhibition that included a lot of contemporary art, we got a different view, starting "at the beginning" - here are a few of my favourite objects -
Bodyguard and harbusquier of Emperor Rudolf II (r.1576-1612),
bronzes made about 1580 in Nuremberg
(favourite because: I drew them from a distance and was
amazed at the details, up close)

"Mary prays for a dying person", an example of ars moriende, 1575
(love those "speech ribbons")

Curassier armour, last half of 17th century
(something so heavy suspended so lightly)

Powder flask
(the shape! the tassels!)

"general treasury of the mercantry or complete lexicon of all activities and trades" -
one of the most important commercial reference works from the 1740s
(the fancy letters)

Hinged kitchen doll, 1850
("the female gender role is literally imprinted on the body")

Propulsion chamber of a V2 rocket, as found
(up close to something I drew from a distance earlier)
 We went to the special exhibition, as well -
It showed the situation in 12 European countries at the end of WWII, through photos and objects, and highlighted by the lives of three people - definitely not chosen at random - from each country. Lots of reading (fortunately labels were also in English); an excellent exhibition that really drew you in, but boy was it hard work emotionally. We talked about how lucky we were not to have gone through that war, those situations - whole cities reduced to rubble, so many killed, displaced, homeless, orphaned, or sent off to camps or forced labour.

The individual stories were an interesting range - from collaborators to orphans. Objects included clothing - a national costume, inspirational object of resistance among Norwegians; the coat worn by a pregnant member of the resistance and used as a blanket when she gave birth on a train after being questionned and tortured; a dress made in resistance colours to wear at the homecoming of a father, who did not return; a (short, indeed skimpy) wedding dress made of parachute silk. And a Dutch "national commemorative skirt" (feestrok), patched together from fabrics that had meaning, embroidered with important information.


Kathleen Loomis said...

how interesting to see the Bavarian colors (blue and white diamonds) for sale in the heart of Prussia!

reensstitcher said...

I was very interested n your description of the exhibition about the end of WWII. There was a fascinating documentary on the BBC a couple of weeks ago about the horrendous things which happened to Germans in 1945 after VE Day. It was quite harrowing but very thought provoking. It is still available on iPlayer and well worth watching but expect to be depressed.