The Ball and the Wall

I just visited the shattered remains of the Berlin Wall. A five year old kid kicked a ball right beside it whilst laughing. It felt amazing.

I’ve been to Berlin for six days now, my first visit. Yesterday I walked for three hours, from our room in Kreuzberg along the river Spree and through the green Tiergarten, taking too many unnecessary turns to count.

I stay to take photos of the monument of Haydn, Beethoven and Mozart, admiring both the music and the sculptural art alike. Then I see the bullet holes hidden by restorations, and an informative sign tells me the story of Tiergarten ruins of 1945. A constant bitter sweet melody follows me through the city, as every smile is replaced by a sigh and every solemn moment is succeeded by a teary eye. Every story of a beautiful region or building is followed by further stories of a destructive war in which a planet turned onto itself, in which humanity found itself to be its utmost threat. In which the blood of millions were shed over a beautiful world and over a beautiful Berlin.

Today I saw a graph of Berlin’s population. Of 4.5 millions citizens in 1944. Apparently the German state now estimate to reach 3.75 in twenty years. I don’t fully know what to say about that.

I do know that right before I reached the corner of Ackerstraße and Bernauer Straße I walked through an empty playground which in my confused brain managed to symbolise what was to come.

Not knowing any of Berlin’s inner city structure, I didn’t know I had reached the Wall until it was right before me.

I walked along the death strip which only decades ago was mortal territory. As I reached the plaque of the faces of those who died by the Wall I started crying.

One of the boys who had died trying to escape to the other side was called Anton, and was just a couple years younger than me. I couldn’t take it and I continued walking.

As I walked back I met a young family. The five year old boy was kicking a ball and he smiled and his parent laughed. My phone beeped and I got a text from my girlfriend telling me she finished work soon and I could go get her.

My heart slowed down a bit when I realised I had to cross the death strip to get to her workplace.

On my way back the playground was filled with children let out of their local daycare. I smiled.

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