When my wife and I were considering how to celebrate our special date, it was not how big a party to throw, but rather where to travel. Our original idea was to visit Riga, Latvia, where we were both born and married. Another consideration was a trip to Israel, where we lived in the 1970s. But for a long time, Elfa has talked about wanting to take a cruise along Norwegian Fjords. Of course we could combine Riga with Oslo, but what kind of celebration is without our family? Elfa’s brother and his wife, who were at our wedding fifty years ago, live in Berlin. It was a great opportunity to celebrate with them and their family. Coincidently (or not) our daughter Tamar and her husband David had planned to visit Berlin at the same time. We had a celebratory dinner at a restaurant located on the bank of the River Spree, in the area that borders with former East Berlin. Our first visit to Berlin was in 1986. At that time it was an island, separated from the rest of the world by a concrete wall. After World War II, Germany was divided among American, British and French controlled territory, which became West Germany and the part controlled by the former Soviet Union, which became the DDR, Deutsche Demokratische Republik or East Germany. Then during the Cold War period on August 13, 1961, the DDR built the wall, completely isolating West Berlin. Finally on November 9, 1989, the Wall came down, and Germany was unified again, and became an industrial power with a population of over 80 million, out of which 3.5 million live in the unified Berlin.
During our many trips to Berlin to visit family, and to travel together throughout Germany and other parts of Europe, I used to get sick, imagining that I was killed by Germans during the war, and after reincarnating in 1947, I still carried those memory of past events in my subconscious.
However, one day I decided to leave past in the past and since then I’ve enjoyed my visits there. Today the city offers diversity and the subtle beauty of an old European city. People are polite and many, especially the younger generations, speak English.
At the same time, as an encounter/people photographer, I have found Berliners to be very reserved. To me, it seemed that they are afraid of something (perhaps their past memories) and are very protective of their privacy. Online I found out that it is OK to photograph people, for my personal pleasure, but to use the image for anything else requires their consent (in writing). Of course this did not stop me. If I will ever publish a photo-story book about Berlin (which I might in the future), their images would be photographed from the back, with the title “42 Encounters in the Invisible Berlin”.
P.S. Perhaps these four images, showing the invisible part of the Berliners, their backs, will be in the book. I photographed them at the Krummelanke, a lake which has curved shape. It is located in the south-western Berlin, and is a popular area for swimming and walking along the lake.
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