Berlin – capital of Germany and front line during the cold war – underwent a fundamental change during the last thirty years. Being there for the first time in 1990 right after the wall had came down, I was overwhelmed by the sheer size of the city and the very different urban layouts and appearances in the Eastern and the Western part, they even smelled differently.
Today, 30 years later, I travel four to five times a year to Berlin, visiting friends or for business reasons. This is normally not the occasion to spend a lot of time with photography, although there are gazillions of opportunities to get out your phone and capture moments of street life or these very typical motifs telling stories about the “poor but sexy” city, as the former mayor Klaus Wowereit described the uniqueness of the metropolis.
One Saturday some time ago I decided to pack my gear and made a day trip to Berlin only for visiting an exhibition, letting myself drift through the city and taking pictures. The equipment was very light-weighted: my Olympus OM-2N with the Olympus Zuiko 35/2.8 lens attached, slightly upgraded with modern attachments like the Peak Design slide strap, a red shutter button and an UV lens filter. I opted for the Kodak Ektar 100 film which is not only my favourite colour film but also from my point of view the best option for this little project. For me the emergence of the colours reminds me very much of pictures taken in the 1960s or 1970s, a perfect match to image the iconic buildings representing symbols of each divided part during the cold war era.
My trip started in the former Western part next to Berlin Zoo station at the Amerika-Haus where I visited the exhibition at C/O Berlin, a museum for photography and visual media.
A few minutes of walk away is the Gedächtniskirche at Breitscheidplatz and Kurfürstendamm, somewhat to me like the heart of the former West-Berlin, surrounded with the Zoo Palast and the Bikini mall, both re-built and build in 1956/57.
Continuing my walk for further six kilometres through the entire city along the axis of “Strasse des 17. Juni“, which is named “Unter den Linden” in the former Eastern part I made it to the Alexanderplatz, where the Fernsehturm (TV tower) is probably the most iconic monument of Eastern German architecture, along with the Urania Weltzeituhr (Urania world clock), both built in 1969.
Not far away from Alexanderplatz I finished my trip in the bustling district of Mitte, the melting pot of hip people on the streets but also home of far older buildings that overcame not only the times of communist regime but the dark ages of German fascism.
Tired but satisfied I left the time tunnel in Berlin and made my way back home.