I was sitting in the Berlin Documentation Center, watching footage of people charge through barbed wire to escape from East Germany at the time the wall was being erected, thinking about the desperation and oppression that would cause a human to ignore their own safety and potential loss of life. All I have experienced moving to different countries, is a seemingly endless bureaucratic nonsense, manifested in mounds of paperwork and lengthy phone calls, and although I sometimes get the notion that running through barbed wire would be welcome as long as there is some relief in the end, I continue filling out the paperwork and making the calls. Maybe I would be willing to take more risk if I could see an actual enemy. Instead I have to deal with people just like me—probably similar upbringing, fairly educated and with a moderate income. It just begs the question, why would I do this to myself? It was probably the same then in East Berlin. I read reports, that were part of the exhibition, of several cases of border guards deserting because the did not want to shoot people escaping.
It seemed like every surface of todays Berlin is covered in graffiti. I only spent six days there, so I don’t know if this the expression of 28 years of repression, but I do know that I liked seeing a city being treated like a canvas. The impetus for creativity was everywhere, and it seemed that creativity belonged to my generation—so much momentum without borders, allowing for utter failures, complete success and the sublime.
Despite what sounds like complete chaos, Berlin is a very clean and orderly city—polar opposites existing simultaneously, with the appearance of complete awareness. The aspects of life are in it together in Berlin, all with not too much drama, which probably comes from wisdom gained from such an extensive and striking history.