The wall jumpers

I shake my head. Dead days lie ahead of us at the trial.
We would wander aimlessly long after the shutters were up, unable to work or sleep. We had hardly spoken in years.
As she disappeared, after sitting with me on a pavement around Alexander Platz overnight, I must have discovered what wall jumpers felt like – who knows from what heights fallen. No shelter. No heaven. All books and papers burnt, all lines broken, all nails cut, all suspects confessed Continue reading “The wall jumpers”


The way I discovered the Berlin wall has fallen

Over the almost three decades the wall stood in Berlin, it was referred to as Antifaschistischer Schutzwall by the authorities of the German Democratic Republic, a legitimate concrete curtain incubating the socialist state. While from the East Berlin side it soon became the dull edge of the death strip, from the West Berlin side it often served as a natural, urban canvas for politically engaged graffiti art, claiming freedom for all. When every ideology needs a precise vision of the world to be conveyed, these pages state a well pondered sense of annihilation rather than of revelation, avoiding any speculation on icons and mass culture. The debris of the wall are the latest generation of the wall itself.

The book is available on | .de | .it | .uk
The Way I Discovered The Berlin Wall Has Fallen, Federico Federici, Morrisville 2017. ISBN: 978-0244930172

Die Beiden Seiten

Schwachsinn, zu fragen wie es dazu kam. (D.G.)
Berlin and the wall’s death strip on the east side seen through the eyes of a Stasi spy and of a contemporary traveller:
Die Beiden Seiten

Il video è una prima ricognizione di Berlino, costruita incrociando l’occhio della Stasi (da documenti d’archivio) con quello di un viaggiatore contemporaneo, che si soffermi, in un giorno qualsiasi, sugli scenari che lo circondano.
Tra i luoghi indagati, spiccano la striscia della morte a Bernauer Straße e la stazione di Nordbahnhof, una delle celebri “stazioni fantasma” dei tempi del muro.
La linea del tempo è azzerata: passato e presente si confrontano sullo stesso livello, attraverso il meccanismo della proiezione, che di continuo ribalta il primo piano e lo sfondo.
Da ultimo, il pallone aerostatico che simboleggia il mondo, ripreso in volo da dietro i resti del muro lungo Niederkirchner Straße, si erge a simbolo quasi chapliniano del goffo trasformismo di cui il potere è, per sua natura, maestro.

Peter Fechter (1944-1962)

August 17, 1962: Peter Fechter was shot while trying to make his bid for freedom. He bled to death in agony right behind the Wall in Zimmerstraße near Checkpoint Charlie.

Walled in, death
by wall and concrete,
neither too tall, nor thick
but an empty zone
open to the appointed
West. The last jump,
the spark long since kept
lit against the spying
of the dark, Continue reading “Peter Fechter (1944-1962)”

Poem after the waste wall

Most parts of the Wall were pre-fabricated segments, originally designed for other kind of buildings. It was never seen as the wall of a house, though.

An almost invisible thread
had guided crowds for years.
Rushing out from shelters
and bunkers, they gathered
here to eavesdrop winds
and western whispers
behind the wall. The firm
back of the winter’s hand
halted them all before it.
It didn’t upturn the hourglass,
nor did it shake and clean
its clogged throat.
The days were dust,
the dust that was their house.
Now none dares to speak to
those who’ve chosen to forget.
And we all go with them.
Dead men only speak
a language of regret.

November, 1961

As early as November of 1961, skilled and unskilled workers were practically employed around the clock to reinforce the first generation Wall under the command of construction engineers and the guns of guards on duty. There were actually four generations of the Berlin Wall.

Let this wall hide the wall that stands behind
the wall of itself. Feed another stone into
the wall, another word fed into the silence
that walls up the emptied rooms of the dead.
Most of the wall is centered about ourselves:
it’s up to us to believe it falls down in the end
or not.

On foot to Ost-Berlin (from an old guide)

Take the U-Bahn line 6 (direction Tegel-Alt Mariendorf), or the S-Bahn line 3 (direction Wannsee-Friedrichstraße) or the S-Bahn line 2 (direction Lichtenrade-Frohnau). At Kochstraße the conductor will say on the mic: “Kochstraße – letzter Bahnhof in den Westsektoren, letzter Bahnhof in den Westsektoren!”. The train will proceed slowly then under the wall, reducing speed (without stopping) through Stadtmitte and Französische Straße station, that has been closed and kept in half-dark since 13 August 1961. Rdt police officers control the passage of the train until it arrives at Friedrichstraße, the frontier station. The atmosphere is quite unreal there, for it’s unusual to cross an underground frontier to move from one place to another within the same State. You’ll immediately notice the quite impressive coming and going and especially the huge number of old people, retired women and men, who are for one day calling on their relatives living in West Berlin.
All you have to do now is to follow the Grenzübergangstelle and stand in a queue at the Andere Staaten gate waiting for your turn.
Being there no later than 10 o’clock is a good trick not to be standing too long.

13 August 1961

Archie Shepp is blowing through his sax. I’ve been a jazz collector for years and this music leads me to wakefulness. Perhaps too much genius in it? Too much fire in the flame? My nerves go bad or perhaps too good. My childhood home smiles in the background, but I’m sitting up in the plain light and the old map is sharp: Berlin was split. The thick postwar wall was not an implausible invention, not only a death sentence put off, nor did it barely mark the trench between two opposite ideologies. It drew a rough circle around Continue reading “13 August 1961”