Oberbaum, Berlin Wall and so on…

Berlin-based bridge Oberbaumbrücke is a symbol for many things: Where nowadays cars, metros and tourists cross Spree River from north to south, was once the border between the East and the West. The former border strip was guided by the course of the river; a route, that today is famous for pleasure boat trips. The towers of Oberbaumbrücke are not only identity-establishing for the directly neighbouring club Watergate, but stand first and foremost for the vicinity of Berlin and Brandenburg. Also in my life Oberbaumbrücke played an important role, as it was my first contact with the West after the Berlin Wall fell down.

The actual fall of the Berlin Wall, it happened on a Thursday evening, I didn’t notice that much as I was an 11 year old chap at that time. Though I remember the whole situation, for example the following Saturday I went to school taking my little sister by the hand. Having reached school to our surprise nobody was there, except a couple of dutiful teachers. That day everybody somehow tried to visit the west. Hence again I took my sister by the hand, walked back home and asked my mother: “When, finally, will we see the West?!”

When my father came back from work, all together we entered the next S-Bahn and drove into town. Having arrived at Warschauer Straße station, a couple of announcements already said that it is insane to head further as the whole city goes crazy. Alright, so we made the best out of the situation and went to Oberbaumbrücke, the nearest checkpoint. At that time the bridge looked everything but being of historic value as it was grey all over and the towers were broken off. At the end of the bridge, where today U1 metro crosses the road, people crawled through a hole in the man-sized wall. But before we could reach that spot it was about waiting, waiting for hours and hours amidst a densely packed crush of people.

In such situations Berliner react cool and often ironic. Someone commented the waiting with “Hey guys! Everything’s been a joke only. We can go home.” It was already dusk when we reached the hole in the wall and were allowed to “slip through the net”. And there we stood, at nowadays Oberbaumeck. Back then it was a paradise for punks and alternatives, hence please don’t make the mistake and think it was clean. I was pretty put off by loads of dog shit in the roads, used syringes lying around and the only pinch of colour was graffiti, something people from the grey eastern world didn’t know at all. From time to time the smell of urine accompanied our first walk through the west. Against that background the west and the western system had all chances of the world to get only better ;-)

First and foremost I am nature and wildlife photographer. People like me know: Grey goose escape already before having the thought to photograph those super shy animals. Maybe now you can imagine my complete astonishment when I bumped into a grey goose grazing on the green area near East Side Gallery that once was the exact course of the border; grazing amidst all the tourists with Oberbaumbrücke in the background. I love such encounters. It’s literally having the finger on the pulse of evolution as nature adapts itself to the man-made environment. Without the fall of the Berlin Wall the bird as well as I couldn’t meet each other, as I would have got shot and for the bird there would be no green to graze. So we meet each other on October 3rd, the German Unification Day. There are definitely not many suchlike intensive encounters in life, when nature meets the own history.

Some of the photos shown were shot during Festival of Lights, when several Berlin buildings, also Oberbaumbrücke, get variously illuminated. In 2013 the towers were screen for yellow-blue lasers painting animations onto them.

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