Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Notes from Berlin - III The SS Art Camp

If buildings had a religion, they all would be Hindus. After certain eras, many of them get reborn - some undergo a step down to ruins, while others step up their standing - the Musee d Orsay is a great example. What was once an old railway station has now become this:

Not too shabby, especially if you house some great works of Degas and Monet, among others. However, the one building that really did the turnaround in it's lifetimes is this squatter house is Berlin. The building was one of the old SS offices which stored a lot of documents on how SS systematically wiped out entire families and communities in many parts of Europe.

So, when the Allies won the war, the SS flooded their basement where all the war crime records were kept. I doubt if the documents themselves were called war crime journals though, they might have originally called them 'Glorious Examples of Supreme Race's Ingenuity' or something. However, given that the entire basement was flooded the Allies sealed the basement when they found they could not salvage the documents. The building was left as a ghostly reminder of a past that was both horrifying and shameful.

That was when the artists and squatter groups started moving in. Now this place does not have an inch of space without some kind of graphics on it. People live, work and sell their works here. There are also plans to turn this into an open air movie theater.

Just because your past was shitty does not mean that you cannot have a fun filled future.

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