At Berlin – The Heidelberger Platz

At Berlin in August 2022, I continued visiting spots that I so far have known only from the metro or S-Bahn stations. I have already talked about the Rüdesheimer Platz. Today, I will explore the Heidelberger Platz.

 

Beautiful medieval Heidelberg presented at the metro station of U3

Heidelberg has one of the most beautiful medieval city centres of Germany, with the castle ruin above it. The station “Heidelberger Platz” of metro U3 presents photos of Heidelberg and its romantic castle ruin, such as this one. 

 

The castle of Heidelberg, elegant Renaissance, was the residence of the Electors of the Palatinate (Kurfürsten von der Pfalz). On the photo, we see the ruins of the belfry, flanked by the buildings of the Electors Friedrich and Ottheinrich above the medieval city centre with the Heiliggeistkirche (Holy Spirit Church). The castle was destroyed by the French in the late 17th century. The medieval city centre of Heidelberg is intact, as it was spared from the bombings in the Second World War. 

Let us leave the metro station and see, what the Heidelberger Platz looks like.

 

The Heidelberg Platz “above the ground”: My first impression – it is just a busy traffic junction

My first impression of the Heidelberger Platz: What an ugly and busy traffic junction. The metro below the ground is intersected by the suburban train (S-Bahn) and the city highway A100, as seen from the multilane street called Mecklenburgische Strasse. A huge and sober Aldi shopping centre rounds up the picture to the left. 

Just the red brick building of the S-Bahn station adds some charm.

This is not a place to rest. Not at all, what the beautiful metro station with the photos of Heidelberg made me expect. Three e-scooters are waiting for those who want to escape from here.

 

A second look: Some nice and cute details

A second look reveals some nice and cute details.

Still related with the traffic junction, I notice the car wash called “COSY-WASCH” which mixes up English (cosy) and something like German (Wasch). May be, potential clients from Berlin would not understand “cosy wash”; only “wasch” makes it clear to them that they can wash (waschen) their car here. And what is “cosy” about this place? It my be convenient to wash the car at this traffic junction, but cosy

Across the COSY-WASCH is the red brick building of the suburban S-Bahn train station, where a barber has installed his barbershop. He calls it “Barber’s House” making use of the logo of the Berlin suburban train, the letter S, white letter in a green circle. 

What an inviting barbershop!

In the middle of the Heidelberger Platz, people rest in a small park. Huge trees reduce the noise of the traffic junction. After several weeks without rain, the meadow is yellowish-brown.  

The restaurant at the corner is called – well not “Heidelberger” – but “Heidelbeere” (German for blueberry). That sounds almost like “Heidelberg” – almost.

At lunch time, I have a typical meal of North Germany here: Young herring with potatoes, salad and curd (Matjeshering).

Next door, this bear is carrying books, using its paws and its head. The bear’s dress has a somewhat scientific look.

The bear presents the books in front of the Springer Nature building, a German-British academic publishing company that in Germany has its main seat at Heidelberg, and obviously at Berlin, one of its affiliates resides at the Heidelberger Platz. What a coincidence.

A second look at the Heidelberger Platz reveals some nice and cute details, indeed.

 

Vale un peccato – it is worth a sin – or perhaps better: it is worth a peccadillo

After having visited the busy traffic junction Heidelberger Platz and after having noticed some nice and cute details, I walk along Assmannshauserstrasse, just  for a few meters, and enjoy a delicious Italian meal at the restaurant “vale un peccato”.

I eat delicious spaghetti with mussels and get involved in a deep discussion with another pensioner who in his business life was a professor for political sciences at Berlin. His insights into the current evolvement of history are interesting – I value his differentiating thoughts. 

 

Sources:

 

Berlin – the Bäke from Kleinmachnow to the Havel (Glienicke) (cted)

In June 2022, I was at Berlin again, for five weeks. Berlin is my mother town. I explored some corners off the beaten tracks. So far, we have looked at the Rüdesheimer Platz and at the Fichtenberg at Steglitz. Furthermore, we have followed the tracks of the Bäke at Steglitz.  

Now we will continue to follow the Bäke from Kleinmachnow’s Bäkemühle (mill) to Glienicke near Potsdam.

 

Review: The marks of the Bäke from the source, along the Teltow Channel and up to the Havel near Potsdam (Glienicke Brücke)

The Bäke starts at the Fichtenberg, appears in the Bäkepark, “enters” the Teltow Channel that took over the former valley of the Bäke, reappears at Kleinmachnow (Bäketal, Bäkemühle), appears again at Kohlhasenbrück (the two Bäkewiesen) and at Klein-Glienicke (Pattengraben). 

With a cousin of mine, I will now follow the Bäke from the Bäke mill at Kleinmachnow to the Pattengraben at Klein-Glienicke.

 

The Bäke reappearing at Kleinmachnow

The Bäke mill (Bäkemühle) has been documented since 1695. The building of today is from 1862. It belonged to the noble family von Hake, as the three hooks (hook = Haken) in the coat of arms indicate. The ruins of the von Hake castle is just north of the mill, and so is the church with the tombs of the von Hake family (in the church of the von Hake family, the Dorfkirche Kleinmachnow, my parents married on 4th of March 1941). 

The mill was a restaurant until 2013. In 2017, two medical doctors, father and daughter, took over the mill and had it renovated. It is now a doctor’s practice. 

The Bäketal is a beautiful nature reserve north of the street called Bäkedamm.  

We enter the park near the mill. We reach the bridge that once belonged to the park of the von Hake family; the bridge has recently been restored.

The forest opens to this meadow. On the map, it is called “Festwiese” or “party meadow”.

Near the  church of the von Hake family, we enter the forest again and come across boggy places that show…  

… what the wetlands of the Bäke once might have looked like. Difficult to access, indeed.

Just below the sluice, the Kleinmachnow Bäke arm “enters” the Teltow Channel.

The sluice of Kleinmachnow (Kleinmachnower Schleuse) was built to overcome the height difference of 2.70 meters between the Havel near Potsdam and the Spree at Köpenick (Bernstengel, p. 35).

 

Strolling along the Teltow Channel that has taken over the Bäke again

On a small foot path, we walk along the Teltow Channel. The Bäke has again been taken over by the Teltow Channel. Far ahead of us we can see a bridge. 

I propose to walk up to that bridge and then cross the channel. The closer we come, the noisier the bridge is – “swish – swish – swish”. My cousin laughs: “I do not believe that we can cross this bridge on foot, let us take a photo of the boat that carries the name of my daughter!” I check google maps on my smartphone, and now I understand: This is the highway A115. I usually cross this highway bridge by car, entering Berlin from the south – swish – swish – swish. You are right, my cousin, we cannot cross the channel here!

We continue on our small footpath. Two ugly pillars appear on both sides of the Teltow Channel. Bernstengel, p. 33, tells me that this was the so-called cemetery train (Friedhofsbahn) from Wannsee to Stahnsdorf (south of Kleinmachnow). The train was removed, when the wall separating Berlin from the GDR was built.  Just two pillars are left – this is one of them.

We carry on walking on our small footpath and pass under a bridge with trees on it (look at the photo on the link). It is the old highway A115. Later, I learn from Bernstengel, p. 31, that we could have crossed the channel here, as the bridge is solid. We did not know then and continued on our small footpath south of the Teltow Channel.

Why the old highway A115? Matters were complicated here: The channel formed the border between Berlin (West) and Brandenburg (GDR): A patch of (West) Berlin was south of the channel and a patch of Brandenburg (GDR) was north of the channel. The former highway A115 crossed this patch of West Berlin south of the channel and entered Brandenburg again north of the channel. To avoid crossing West Berlin and re-entering the GDR, they moved the highway east, and they built the new customs facilities Dreilinden to check the transit traffic through the GDR. 

Panels explain the wall separating Berlin (West) from Brandenburg (GDR). We are on the so called Wall Route.

In the small patch of Berlin south of the Teltow Channel, we enter Albrechts Teerofen. In GDR times, only one small road allowed to access this place from West Berlin. 

At Albrechts Teerofen, there were ovens that produced tar from the pine trees rich in resin. In 1680, the place was mentioned under the name “tar production Kohlhasenbrück”. In 1767, the owner of the oven was called Albrecht (Bernsteigel, p. 31 and wiki entry for Albrechts Teerofen). Today it is a small settlement with a few houses. Here, the camping site for children and young people is called “Bäkewiese” – the Bäke creek turns up again.

The Owl Estate (Landgut Eule) was built by the Prussian kings. The guards of the royal hunting area “Parforce Heide” stayed here. 

The Parforce Heide has its name from the parforce (medieval) hunting that was performed by the Prussian kings and by nobility: Dogs chased the animals, until they were tired and could be shot by the hunters. 

Just near Kohlhasenbrück, we come across the first railway line Berlin – Potsdam, inaugurated in 1838, the so-called “Stammbahn”. This railway has been out of service since 1945. Nature has taken over.

Still south of the Teltow Channel, we enter Kohlhasenbrück, a suburb that is part of Berlin. At the Bäkestrasse, we consider taking the bus. However, we decide to carry on walking. 

At Neue Kreisstrasse, we see signs pointing to the Bäkewiese. It is a natural park that cannot be accessed. I take a photo looking over the fence. 

The Nature Reserve (NSG) Bäkewiese has been set up in 1988 to preserve this piece of the former Bäke wetlands with their fauna and flora. Frogs and toads live here, cranes, various kinds of woodpeckers and cormorans as well, and in addition wild boars, foxes, and raccoons. The Bäke is now called “Kohlhasengraben”.

We cross the bridge and stop at a restaurant with a large balcony. The take away service is open today, and I have Bockwurst with potato salad. The Bockwurst reminds me of the 1960’s, when I was at Berlin for the first time.

From our table, we can see the nature reserve Bäkewiese across the Teltow Channel.

We next climb a mountain, Moritzberg, almost 95m high. This was a garbage dump set up in a former quarry in 1954. The garbage dump was closed in 1982 and secured (see blog of Antje). The woods are dense, and I cannot imagine, that I am walking on a garbage dump.

We head for Klein-Glienicke, where we will come across the Bäke again… and in addition we will experience a daunting surprise.

 

Klein-Glienicke: The Bäke Creek, now called Pattengraben, with the Swiss Houses

At Klein-Glienicke, an arm of the former Bäke flows between the Griebnitz Lake and the Böttcherberg (67m).  This tamed Bäke arm is called “Pattengraben”.

Above the Pattengraben, there are some Swiss Chalets. This one is undergoing renovation. 

Surrounded by green meadows, the next chalet seems to stand somewhere in the Bernese Oberland.

Ten Swiss Chalets were built between 1863 and 67 to echo the artificial rocks at the Böttcherberg above them; four of the chalets are left today.

 

Daunting memories of the wall separating West Berlin from the GDR at Klein-Glienicke

Entering Klein-Glienicke, we walk down this road which descends with green meadows and trees on both sides. A peaceful and quiet area. 

I notice this information plate and understand, it has not always been peaceful here. The road belonged to the GDR, the area left and right of it was part of West Berlin. This road was a small passage between two gloomy walls.

There is a box with maps under the information plate. The map shows the odd boundary line and the narrow passage. 

I have marked the narrow passage with a red oval. I look around me: This peaceful and quiet place once looked that daunting? I feel scared. 

 

The Glienicker Lake and the Hunting Castle Glienicke

West of Klein-Glienicke, we arrive at Glienicke. We pass this inviting gate with two griffins to enter the park of the Glienicke Palace. 

It was the summer residence of prince Carl of Prussia. The architect Schinkel remodelled the former estate in the year 1825, in neoclassic style. 

Modern Ikea hanging oddly on a bike meets the tradition and nobility of the palace.

The beautiful park along the Havel has been designed by Peter Joseph Lenné.   

It is a beautiful park with tall trees and many eye catching corners.

We leave the park and walk over to the Glienicker Brücke. It was closed for 40 years, as the border between GDR and West Berlin was in the middle of this bridge. I tell my cousin about my impressions from 1966, when my mum took me here (as described in my blog about our tour of seven lakes)

It is here, where the Bäke and the Teltow Channel end; we have reached the river Havel. 

We take the bus back to the S-Bahn station Wannsee, leave the suburban train at Charlottenburg and have a lovely dinner at the Georgian restaurant Salhino at Waitzstrasse 1, just next door to where my mother was born in 1916, at Waitzstrasse 2.

 

Bäke, you old faithful – good-bye for now

Bäke, you old faithful, I do thank you for having opened my eyes for your former wetlands. And in addition you have opened my eyes for the history of the Teltow Channel and how important this channel was for the development of the south west districts of Berlin and its suburbs. 

Bäke, good-bye for now, I will return.

 

Sources:

Berlin: The Bäke creek from the Fichtenberg to the Havel

In June 2022, I was at Berlin again, for five weeks. Berlin is my mother town. I explored some corners off the beaten tracks. So far, we have looked at the Rüdesheimer Platz at Steglitz and at the Fichtenberg.

The Bäke is our next topic. The Bäke is a creek that has its source at the Fichtenberg. Bäke meant “Bach” or “creek”  in medieval Low German (see Wille, p. 45). 

Before the year 1900, the Bäke meandered forming wild, largely impassable wetlands, 250 meters wide. The natural reserve Bäketal at Kleinmachnow shows, what the Bäke wetlands once might have looked like. Impassable, indeed.

After having meandered for about 20km, the Bäke joined the river Havel near Potsdam. 

Around 1900, the Bäke wetlands the Teltow Channel was built and took over the bed of the Bäke. However, some marks of the Bäke are left.

 

Overview: The tracks of the Bäke from the source, along the Teltow Channel and up to the Havel near Potsdam

At the Fichtenberg, the Bäke has its source, under the ground (dotted red line). The Bäke shows up above the ground in the Bäke park (solid red line) and “disappears” in the Teltow Channel (again dotted line)The Bäke continues to live in the names of streets, bridges, parks, meadows and buildings, as indicated on the map.

The Teltow Channel was inaugurated in 1906. Ernst von Stubenrauch managed the construction. His objectives were to create a navigable water channel, to provide drainage for the rapidly growing settlements south of Berlin, to dry the wetlands to allow further settlement and to set the basis for further economic development of the Teltow district. By the way, the name “Teltow Channel” is based on the second name for the Bäke, which was “Telte”.

We will follow the tracks of the Bäke and investigate the area, now up to the Bäkestrasse/brücke, later from Kleinmachnow to the Havel near Potsdam.

 

The Bäke emerges at the Fichtenberg, I cannot find the source

The source of the Bäke is below the platform on the right hand side of the photo; however, I cannot find the source. 

Does the trough in the meadow indicate the former bed of the Bäke?

Looking downhill from the same spot, I can see this trough continue.

I do not know, whether the Bäke is under the meadow here or whether the start has completely dried out.

 

The Bäke underground

The Bäke is said to continue under the Zeunepromenade steeply leading down to Steglitz (I look uphill here).

This path is called after Johann August Zeune who founded his school for blind and visually impaired people in 1806.

In 1914, Betty Hirsch initiated education for people that turned blind in the war, together with Paul Zille, as the plate next to her and her dog explains.

The Bäke fed a pond surrounding the neoclassical Wrangel castle; the pond has disappeared (Seeger/Zimmermann, p. 89). 

 

Field marshal Wrangel set up his summer residence in the Wrangel castle in 1853. The Steglitz station of the new train from Potsdam to Berlin became busier and busier, and Wrangel asked it to be closed to stop all that noise. The station was reopened in 1869, when Wrangel stopped staying at his castle regularly (Seeger/Zimmermann, p. 89).  The annexe of the Wrangel Castle is now a small theatre (Schlosspark Theater) with an excellent reputation. 

Across the castle, the street is called “Am Bäkequell” or “at the source of the Bäke”. 

The Bäke is still under the ground here. It crosses the suburban train (S-Bahn) and continues under the Oberlinweg. 

Behind the suburban train, there once was a comfortable swimming pool of 900 square meters, with a restaurant, a park and a bowling alley. The owner Pantzier replaced the water supply from the then dirty Bäke by water from the Berlin channel system; he deemed hygiene to be important. The swimming pool has disappeared today; the last remaining buildings were pulled down in the 1960’s (Seeger/Zimmermann, p. 91f). 

 

The Bäke shows up in the Bäke Park

The Bäke Park is a green reserve.

Under the bridge of the Haydnstrasse, the Bäke appears from under the ground.

It is not a beautiful place, not at all worthy for the old faithful Bäke.

Strictly tamed, it flows in a narrow channel through the Bäkepark. This small creek once fed wetlands 250 meters wide?

At the end of the Bäke Park, the Bäke is “allowed” to spread out as a pond. 

As a matter of fact, this pond is a collecting tank to control the amount of water that the Bäke feeds into the Teltow Channel after heavy rainfall (Bernstengel, p. 60).

 

The Bäke taken over by the Teltow Channel

The Bäke Park and the open flow of the Bäke end at the Teltow Channel. The Teltow Channel, starting at Köpenick, seems to “swallow” the Bäke here.

Across is the Port of Steglitz. It is a “leftover” of the Bäke that made a wide turn to the west here; this eased the construction of the port. Around the port, there were a powerstation and storage place for coal. Now there is a museum about the production and distribution of electricity (Bernstengel, p. 58).

I follow the Teltow Channel, pass the Bäke Bridge and end my walk at Emil-Schulz-Brücke, as it starts to rain heavily.

I take the bus back home. 

Let us continue looking for marks of the Bäke at Kleinmachnow in the following blog.

 

Sources:

Berlin: The pine tree mountain or Fichtenberg, 69m high

In June 2022, I was at Berlin again, for five weeks. Berlin is my mother town. I explored some corners off the beaten tracks. In my previous blog, we were at the Rüdesheimer Platz, now it is the Fichtenberg (literally “pine tree mountain”). 

Yes, you find mountains at Berlin, and the Fichtenberg at Steglitz is one of them.

 

The Fichtenberg IS a mountain, 69m high

The Fichtenberg IS a mountain. Look at the traffic signs and trees leaning uphill. The man is working hard pulling up his trolley. Kurt Pomplun says that the steep inclination of 1:12 is a problem for the garbage removal men (p. 76).

Oh yes, I know, mountains are steeper in Switzerland. Berlin, however, is flat, and I am always astonished, when I see some inclination here.

More than a hundred years ago, the Fichtenberg rewarded climbers with a gorgeous view from the top: In 1892, they could see Potsdam and the Havel mountains as well as the suburbs Lichterfelde and Zehlendorf (Pomplun, p. 75).

Today, we see trees from the top, beautiful tall trees. There is a platform topping the Ruth-Andreas Friedrich Park. Dogs run around on the meadows, sportsmen jog uphill and take a rest on the platform.

Behind the platform, there must be the entry to the subterranean bunker tunnels of the Second World War that Seeger and Zimmermann mention in the 1980’s (p. 108). The stone slab marking the entrance was still visible then. Access was forbidden. The tunnels collapsed under the street. The street had to be barred. 40 years later, I found no signs indicating this gloomy past.

Below the platform, the Bäke creek has its source (Olaf Seeger et al, p.89). I cannot find the spring tapping, though. It is said to have dried out.

Yes, the Fichtenberg IS a mountain – it even has its creek! We will follow the Bäke creek up to the Havel near Potsdam later.

 

The best maintained garden of Berlin: The Botanic Garden

The western part of the Fichtenberg is the best maintained garden of Berlin, as Pomplun proudly points out.  It is the Botanic Garden of Berlin, with paths and roads winding up and down.

There are greenhouses with tropical plants.

More than 20’000 plant varieties grow on about 40 ha. It is one of the largest botanic gardens of Germany. It was laid out between 1897 and 1910, as the site of the Botanic Garden explains.

Even the grapevine snails enjoy life at the Botanic Garden. They find enough food here.

 

Sumptuous villas, the oldest from the late 19th century

The Fichtenberg was a wild area, until Frederic the Great cultivated it: In the middle of 18th century, he mandated to plant pine trees here. In the late 18th century, wine was grown here. In the 19th century, the silk factory owner Heese planted mulberry trees. In 1841, the Prussian government acquired the mountain. In 1871, it subdivided it into lots and started to sell them. The first villa was built in 1874, and more followed (Olaf Seeger et al., p. 100).

Let us look at some of the sumptuous villas. Just some of them, there are many more beautiful villas .

Some villas hide behind defensive fences  – this is Schmidt-Ott Strasse 11a, built by the architect Endell. 

Bishop Dibellius lived here in the 1930’s (Olaf Seeger et al, p. 105). Endell also built the Hotel am Steinplatz near Savignyplatz (In Berlin zu Hause, p. 46f).

Other villas hide behind trees.

I do not know details about this villa number 11b.

This is the villa Anna at Schmidt-Ott Strasse 14, built out of bricks, with a slim and pointed tower attached, behind the trees.  

Pomplun says, the villa seems to have been built with elements of “Richters Ankersteinbaukasten” (p. 76).

The Ankersteinbaukasten was a construction kit for children made at Rudolstadt from 1884 to 1963; production was reinitiated in 1995, as I learn from Wikipedia. As a child, I used to play with such a construction kit, when staying with my grand-mother; now I know, what it was.

The former water tower, now the FU Institute of Space Sciences and Meteorology at the Schmidt-Ott-Strasse 13, was built in 1886 (Free University=FU).

In former times, you could climb the tower for ten pfennig and enjoy the view at 40m above street level (Pomplun, p. 75.)

Despite the trees, the owner of this neo-classical villa has decided to install a red umbrella which nicely matches the green and white colours.

This is Schmidt-Ott Strasse 21, the oldest villa at the Fichtenberg: The registrar Mancke had settled here in the year 1874 (Pomplun, p. 74 and Olaf Seeger et al., p. 100).

Pomplun says that this palais was built by the architect Paul Baumgarten (senior) for the merchants’ family Henoch in 1912.

When looking for the name Henoch, I see that for members of this family stumbling blocks (Stolpersteine) have been set up at Berlin, Sybelstrasse 29 – here they are.

I feel guilty, when looking at these reminiscences.

Schmidt-Ott-Strasse 17 is this beautiful villa built in the 1930’s style of new objectivity (Neue Sachlichkeit).  

Someone later lacked the feeling for taste and tradition. He added this ugly supposedly modern house, probably in the 1960’s.

Like two unequal brothers, this ugly building and the architecture gem of new objectivity are attached to one another.

Across the street, at Schmidt-Ott-Strasse 6, I like this neo-classic villa. The villa belonged to the merchant Degener.

The façade is divided into three parts with four ionic columns in the middle forming the basis for the balcony (Olaf Seeger et al., p.103).

Next door, number 4, is the Evangelisches Jugend und Fürsorgewerk (EJF). In the garden, the bull gives audience to his friend, the grey cat with sparkling green eyes.

The bull is called Heinz, after the actor Heinz Hönig. Since 2003, Heinz has organized instructive journeys for children, as the notice says.  Wiki tells me that Heinz Hönig was born in Bavaria in 1951. His foundation “Heinz der Stier” has invited traumatized children and young people to Mallorca and to the Harz to show them new horizons for their future.

I do not know more details about the beautiful cat. It looked at me for a short moment and run away.

The EJF hosts the Ringelbande (“Ringel” gang). It is  a day care facility for children and a house for small researchers. Maybe they have performed some research about millipedes. 

The large property belonged to the paper factory owner Max Krause. He made money, because he had the brilliant idea to sell envelopes in combination with stationery. His slogan was: «Schreibste mir, schreibste ihr, schreibste auf MK-Papier (whether you write to me or you write to her, you will write on MK stationery)» (Olaf Seeger et al., p. 100)

The villas are full of history and histories. Many of the street names commemorate personalities that once lived here. Carl-Heinrich Becker, for instance, was a Prussian minister and professor of orientalism that lived in the area.

What the dun crow and I see from this point is the eyesore of Steglitz. 

This ugly tower at the foot of the Fichtenberg and near the Steglitz city hall seems to undergo construction now and may be completed one day.

I prefer not to further look at the eyesore, and I turn right to Lepsiusstrasse, where there are more beautiful houses,…

… and this beautiful gable that reminds me of the Spreewald.

I descend the Fichtenberg, walk along Lepsiusstrasse and sit down in the small and family-owned restaurant la Piccola Perla to enjoy some delicious pasta. It was a wonderful afternoon. I will return to identify more architecture gems on the Fichtenberg.

 

Post Scriptum 1: Flee markets are a good source for books about Berlin

Flee markets are a wonderful place to buy books that invite you to explore Berlin beyond the “usual” touristic sights. I came across Pomplun’s “Berlin und keine Ende” on the Sunday market at Steglitz (Hermann Ehlers Platz) and later I found two more books on the Sunday market at the Kupfergraben near the museums island:  Olaf Seeger’s and Burkhard Zimmermann’s “Steglitzer Geschichten” as well as Klaus Dieter Wille’s “Spaziergänge in Steglitz”.

 

Post Scriptum 2: Visiting Kurt  Pomplun

Kurt Pomplun is buried at the cemetery of Wilmersdorf.

Thank you, Kurt Pomplun, for telling me so much about Berlin.

 

Sources:

  • Kurt Pomplun, “Berlin und kein Ende», Berliner Kaleidoskop Band 26, Verlag Bruno Hessling Berlin 1977
  • «In Berlin zu Hause», B History, das Berliner Geschichtsmagazin, Nr 4/2022
  • Olaf Seeger und Burkhard Zimmermann, «Steglitzer Geschichte(n), Berliner Reminiszenzen No 56, Haude & Spenzer, Berlin 1985
  • Klaus Dieter Wille, “Spaziergänge in Steglitz”, Berliner Reminiszenzen No 60, Haude & Spenzer, Berlin 1989
  • Ingrid Nowel, «Berlin, die alte neue Metropole. Architektur und Kunst, Geschichte und Literatur», Dumont Kunst Reiseführer Ostfildern 2007
  • Website of the Botanic Garden of Berlin https://www.bgbm.org/de
  • Wikipedia entry for Heinz Hönig https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinz_Hoenig
  • Wikipedia entry about Anker-Steinbaukasten https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anker-Steinbaukasten

Berlin: Lively Rüdesheimer Platz

In June 2022, I was at Berlin again, for five weeks. Berlin is my mother town. I explored some corners off the beaten tracks. One of them is the Rüdesheimer Platz at Steglitz.

 

Under ground start: The metro station “Rüdesheimerplatz” (Rüdesheim square)

Let us start under ground, at the metro station U3, Rüdesheimer Platz. The decoration alludes to wine growing, as Rüdesheim is a wine village on the river Rhine, north of Frankfurt.

So far, I had always been under the ground here, using the metro. Now I was curious, what Rüdesheimer Platz looks like above the ground. On a sunny and warm evening, I walk along Rüdesheimer Strasse. Some murmuring is getting louder and louder, as I am approaching the Rüdesheimer Platz.

 

The Weinbrunnen (wine fountain) at the Rüdesheimer Platz

I arrive at the Rüdesheimer Platz. The murmuring is loud now. In the shade of the trees, many people have congregated chatting, with glasses of wine in their hands. Some stand in line at the stand called ”Weinbrunnen” (wine fountain) which sells wine from the Rheingau. Rüdesheim belongs to the Rheingau (Hessen).

The site of the Bezirksamt Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf tells me: The “Weinbrunnen” has been a tradition for more than 50 years. Various wine growers from the Rheingau sell their wine by the glass and by the bottle. People bring their own food. I observe one  lady selling home-made onion pie. Consuming wine from the “Weinbrunnen” is restricted to the platform above the Siegried fountain.

Above the wall, the crowds are drinking wine. In the fountain, people are cooling off.

Emil junior Cauer had created this fountain in 1911: Siegfried tames his horse Grane, flanked by lady Nahe (or Mosel, unclear which) and Old Father Rhine. 

 

In 2016, I was at Rüdesheim and also visited the two ladies Nahe and Mosel

In 2016, we crossed Old Father Rhine to get to Rüdesheim – the vineyards are above the village. 

Also the rivers Nahe and Mosel  are renowned wine areas.

Lady Nahe impressed me with the spectacular Rotenfels (202m high) and the vineyard Bastei, where the grapes ripe marvellously just below the rocks and above the water. 

Also of lady Mosel, I keep great memories from 2016. Here we walked above Piesport looking back at the vineyard Goldtröpfchen. 

Now, six years later, I think of Old Father Rhine and the ladies Nahe and Mosel at the Rüdesheimer Platz.

 

The playground and garden behind the Siegfried fountain

On the playgrounds and meadows behind the fountain of Siegrid, people relax and enjoy the early summer evening. This is the view from the fountain to the east and towards Landauerstrasse. 

Now I am looking back to the Siegfried fountain. The gardens are well maintained. 

 

Around the Rüdesheimer Platz

At Rüdesheimer Platz, Hertz runs a wine shop that promises a great drinking experience – perhaps his wine will give you wings to fly to the clouds.

This little and beautifully crafted house may be needed after so many drinks. It is nick named “Café Achteck” (Achteck = Octagon).

In the beginning of the 20th century, the architects carefully designed the houses around Rüdesheimer Platz and along Landauerstrasse; the  half-timbered façades should resemble English cottages.

The houses have front gardens here.

The ambiance reminds me of the villages in the Rheingau. This is the famous (and touristy) Drosselgasse at Rüdesheim, where I was in 2016.

 

Joining the Weinbrunnen party with a glass of wine

I return to the Rüdesheimer Platz later to have a glass of dry Riesling. Currently Abel, a winegrower from Oestrich, sells his wines. My Riesling is from “Oestricher Lenchen”. I pay and look for a seat.

All seats are taken. Above the Siegried fountain, I  find a place to stand. I put my glass on to the wall. A couple joins me with a pizza from the pizzeria nearby, where I had noticed a long waiting line. A slim athletic looking man in his sixties joins us. I learn that he is from Frankfurt, that he has worked at Berlin, that he sails on the lakes around Berlin and also navigates his motor boat through the channels of the German channels and rivers.

I feel like being in a mediterranean country. But no, I am at Berlin, in Northern Germany, and people enjoy their lives here, too. I really start to feel at home at Berlin, my mother town.

 

Sources:

Berlin: The tour of seven lakes

In 2021, I visited my mother town Berlin four times. I very much enjoyed the tour of seven lakes starting at the Wannsee peer. It reawakened memories of sixty years ago. 

At the Wannsee peer we buy tickets from Reederei Werner Triebler. 

The captain will give us detailed information, while gliding along the lakes and channels. He asks for a tip in the “Quassel-Kasse” (palavering cash box).

Do not take the disinfectant bottle with you! Well, times are very special now, with Covid. 

With us travels this lovely butterfly – perhaps not the whole tour. 

This is the route of the “7 Seenrundfahrt” starting at the Grosser Wannsee, continuing to Jungfernsee, Glienicker Lake, Griebnitzsee, Stölpchensee, Pohlesee, kleiner Wannsee and at the end returning to the Grosser Wannsee.  

Source: Google maps and my additions

We start on the Grosser Wannsee, …

… looking back at the famous Strandbad (lido) Wannsee. In my heart I hear the 1951 song of Conny Froboess: “Pack die Badehose ein, nimm Dein kleines Schwesterlein und dann nüscht wie raus nach Wannsee” (pack your bathing trunk, take your little sister and after that it is time to go to the Wannsee).

Now, in September, the Wannsee beach is empty.

The villa of the Wannsee Conference “glides” by. 

Sailing boats in the sun. The Grunewald Tower, another bombastic oeuvre of Emperor William II, appears above the trees in the background. 

We pass by the Pfaueninsel with its small castle.

After that we see the protestant Heilandskirche (Church of the Redeemer) of Sacrow, built in Neo-Romanesque-Lombardian style in 1844.

Until 1989, Sacrow was part of the GDR; with my mother, I looked at Sacrow from the Pfaueninsel in 1966 and I remember the barbwire in the water that prevented us from getting there. My mother wrote in her 1966 diary: “(Across from the Pfaueninsel) is Sacrow on  the western shore (of the Havel) in the East Zone. I have often been at Sacrow.” The barbwires were a nightmare that, today, I cannot believe was once reality. 

The memories of the nightmare continue at the Glienickerbrücke (Glienicke bridge). The border between Brandenburg (formerly GDR) and Berlin (formerly West-Berlin) is in the middle of this bridge. Until 1989, the “west” ended east of this bridge. Still today, the Berlin part of the bridge is darker than the Brandenburg part. Across this bridge, agents were exchanged between the GDR and the BRD. 

In 1966, my grand uncle Ferdinand drove my mother and me to the Glienickebrücke, then closed and separating the GDR and West-Berlin.

My mother wrote in her diary: “Now I stand in front of this bridge that I had crossed so often. On this side of the Havel river, there is a policeman of West Berlin. He is allowed to go up to the middle of the bridge. On the other side of the Havel is the (eastern) Volkspolizei (member of the People’s Police). It is most distressing to look at the barricades on the other (eastern) waterfront of the Havel. Barbwire spirals reach into the water and cover the whole bank, up to the level of the bridgehead. In the water, there are buoys that mark the “border”. On the other (eastern) side, we cannot see one single person. All seems “icily calm”. On this (western) side of the Bridge of Unity (as they called it in the GDR), …, there is a considerable amount of people, even on this early afternoon of a weekday, that look at this scenery without understanding. Below the bridge West Berlin ends and here is the last station of the Stern- und Kreissschiffahrt: Glienickerbrücke…”

Today, we do not stop at Glienickebrücke. The impassable border has disappeared. Our boat passes under the bridge and into the former GDR waters; the gloomy scenery of 1966 seems unthinkable.

The Babelsberg palace appears on the right hand side. Babelsberg is now the centre of the German film industry.

We continue to the Griebnitzsee and turn north, where the Teltow channel starts . This channel was opened in 1906, is about 40 km long, borders Kleinmachnow and ends south of Köpenick.  

In the Griebnitzsee we watch these rowers move synchronously – beautiful.

In 1966, I was also here with my mother. We had taken a boat going south from the Wannsee to the Griebnitzsee, as far as West Berlin reached. My mother wrote in her diary that it was here, where for the first time, we saw the barbwire “mess” (“Gewirr”) at the southern bank of the Griebnitzsee, as half of this lake belonged to the GDR . 

We reach the Griebnitzkanal that connects the Griebnitzsee with the Stölpchensee. 

Now we have entered the Stölpchensee with the settlement Stolpe. 

The protestant church “am Stölpchensee” is from 1859, built in Neo-Romanesque style, whereby the tower has been adorned with four Neo-Gothic turrets which is a somewhat awkward decoration. 

“Stölpchen” is related to slawic “столб” or “stolb” which means pole. Perhaps it describes the shape of the small lake. 

The Alsenbrücke (Alsen bridge) with the Jugendstil handrail of 1906 crosses the Prinz Friedrich Leopold Kanal between Stölpchensee and Pohlesee. 

We enter the Kleiner Wannsee. On the eastern side, not far from this villa is the tomb of Kleist (Kleistgrab).  It was here that Kleist committed suicide in 1811, with his friend Henriette Vogel. It is only a short walk away from the S-Bahn station Wannsee. This is another place to visit, the next time that I will be in Berlin.

Still in the Kleiner Wannsee, we admire the former GDR state yacht Albin Köbis, in use until 1971, acquired and renovated in 2009 by a private person. 

This villa in the lush garden is hiding behind a weeping willow.

Our boat enters the Grosser Wannsee and soon thereafter, we leave it at the Wannsee peer. Thank you, Captain, it was a wonderful tour. You do deserve a tip for your “Quasselkasse”. 

Sources:

  • Diary of my mother, Dr. Marion Peters-Radzyk, Berlin, 1966
  • Various Websites linked in about the former GDR yacht, the Kleistgrab, the church am Stölpchensee and the Reederei Werner Triebler

Berlin: Observations with the twinkling of an eye

In 2021, I visited my mother town Berlin four times, discovering new places, rediscovering known places and making observations with the twinkling of an eye. Let us look at some of my observations and twinkle with our eyes.

Once upon a time, this was perhaps a kiosk, where people could buy newspapers. Now two guys are hiding behind their newspapers reading them avidly.

 

In case of Radlosigkeit find your Radhaus

The “Radhaus” sells “Räder” which are bicycles in Germany. Not far from this “RaDhaus” is the “RaThaus” (city hall) of Steglitz that the RaDhaus alludes to. 

The owner of this RaDhaus being close to the RaThaus must be a genius in marketing.

Wir helfen bei “RaTlosigkeit”? In German, this translates to “we help you, in case of lack of advice”. Playing with “RaTlosigkeit”, the plate on the bicycle says: Wir helfen bei “RaDlosigkeit”? Meaning “We help in case of lack of a bicycle (“Rad”=bicycle)!” 

Just hire me and you are no longer “raDlos” nor “ratlos” translated to “without bike” nor “without advice”.

 

Does “a-petit” allude to Frederick and Voltaire or just to Asian Petit Tapas?

This restaurant at Prenzlauer Berg has an interesting Website: a-petit.de.  

It sounds like “appetite” and reminds me of the correspondence of Frederick the Great (nicknamed “der Alte Fritz”, 1712-1786) with Voltaire (1684-1778).

Frederick sent Voltaire the following rebus invitation:

   P
venez – which translates to “venez souPer” (à Sanssouci)

Voltaire answered with another rebus:

J a – or more in detail: “J grand a petit” which translates to “j’ai grand appétit”

In English, the invitation soberly translates to “come for dinner” which Voltaire accepts with the answer “I have a big appetite”. 

When looking at the Website “a-petit.de”, I am no longer sure, whether the owner alludes to the rebus exchange between Frederick and Voltaire. The restaurant at Prenzlauer Berg is called “Asian Petit Tapas” shortened to a-petit. I would have to visit the restaurant to find out. 

 

Elections inspire the phantasy of those who want to be elected

September 2021 was the time for elections in Germany and Berlin.

Those who want to be elected, mix English and German without hesitation. Is this the “new modern” of the younger generation?

The “old” lobby (as old as fossiles) – should disappear and give way to the young generation that will fight for a FAIRer redistribution of resources or for UmFAIRteilung (UmVERteilung = redistribution does not suffice). I frown at the “fossiles”, they must be younger than I am… And I wish luck to the younger generation.

Even the Berlinese dialect (ick) comes mixed up with English (future): “Ick will Future”.  (“Ick” is Berlinese for the German word “ich” or “I” in English).

Ick verstehe det jut… I understand that well. It seems Cordelia Koch made it to the town hall of Pankow and I wish that her future materializes. 

 

Interesting traffic signs

Near the Wannsee, I found this gate. “Einfahrt freihalten – Tag und Nacht” (“Please keep the entry free – day and night”), the sign says. The consequences are clear, your car will be carried away, when you park it here.

Looking at the rusty gate and the weeds and bushes behind it, I wonder, how long ago it was that a vehicle tried to enter or leave this wilderness. 

Also this gate, not far from here, seems not to have been in use for quite a while. 

But also here – you have to keep the entry free.

In Switzerland, we say “Schritt-Tempo fahren” or “drive at the speed of walking”. In Germany, this order can be shortened to “Schritt fahren”, which sounds like “drive walking” to me.

Cyclists seem to have a lot of phantasy to find places, where they can attach their bicycles, but beware, here, it is not allowed to do so!

The Covid pandemic forces us to keep distance. Does Queen Elizabeth know that Berlin uses her corgis to illustrate the distance of 1.5m required – it is equivalent to 3 of her dogs. 

I do not believe that hippos walk in front of this garage, as the sign on the gate suggests. I just liked the illustration.

 

Two vehicles that made me smile

This is the “Räumschiff”. “Räumen” means “to clear” and a “Raumschiff” is a space shuttle. Hence the “Räumschiff” cleans the streets (literally “clearing boat”) alluding to a space shuttle. A play of words that only works in German.

Furthermore – I have never seen such a tiny caravan before, and above that, it has been painted in such a friendly green colour. 

There is even a devil wearing red pants on the side.

 

A wonderful city for happy dogs

Though Berlin is a wonderful city for happy dogs, not everything is allowed to them. However, what is prohibited, is prohibited gently: “All dogs (even the cute small ones) unfortunately have to remain outside”. This is, what this plate says that I found in Köpenick.

The city does a lot for their dogs. Not far from busy Schloss-Strasse, you have the option to drop your dog at the “Hundekita” (dog day school) of Mr. Perro. 

Perhaps your dog will learn to bark in Spanish (perro is Spanish for dog). Or the dog will bark in English, because Jack Perro seems to have Anglo-Saxon roots, too.

Not far from here, dogs find coaching at the DogCoach Institute.

This “happiness” van takes dogs to the Grunewald, where, in the dog walking areas (“Hundeauslaufgebiete”), they are allowed to walk without leash.

At the pretty Renaissance hunting castle “Grunewaldschloss”,…

… the dogs can have a rest and enjoy some ice cream (“Hunde-Eis”)… 

… with flavours delicious for dogs such as “liver sausage – apple”… 

… offered in this deep freezer barrel. The dog ice cream has been handmade in Berlin, is assuredly fresh and tastes “awfully good”. You prove love for your dog, when buying ice cream for him.

In addition, the dog sitters and other citizens have the option to eat healthy “Bio” curry sausages. 

Never before have I thought of the curry sausage being healthy, but perhaps I should try this Bio alternative. May be, even a dog would like this healthy Bio sausage. 

Fortunately, the Renaissance castle of Grunewald did not only have ice cream for dogs, but also this Pinot Noir “Preussen Premium” from Potsdam. 

I shared it with a friend of mine after having walked through the Grunewald, and the wine was excellent. Yes, Brandenburg is also a wine region, and some of the wines are quite good.

 

 

A Swiss butterfly – from Wroclaw to Berlin

End of August 2021, I am on the road to Berlin, via Slovakia and Poland. 

My route begins in Slovakia: Bratislava – Trnava – Nitra – Žilina – Strečno and Terchová – Dolny KubinPodbiel and Tvrdošín. It continues in Poland: Wilkowisko – Kraków – Szklarska PorębaWroclaw, and now I am driving to Berlin, via Cottbus and Luckau. 

 

From Wroclaw to Cottbus

The highway E65 from Wroclaw through Poland to Dresden is very busy; even on a Saturday it is full of trucks. I leave this busy highway to catch the E36 to Cottbus. The E36 is under construction. One track has been completed and provides two-way traffic. I reach Cottbus shortly before lunch time. I am in Germany now. No one takes notice of me at the border; I hardly notice crossing it.

Source: Google maps

 

Lunch at Luckau

From Luckau, I keep wonderful  memories. I had lunch at the Ratskeller in 2018. Now I take the detour to enjoy an excellent lunch again: Potatoes with curd cheese and linseed oil and, as a dessert, the sweet pancakes called “Plinsen”, both typical local dishes.  

The restaurant keeper is still the same as in 2018; he has worked in Zurich and enjoys remembering his years in Switzerland. 

The market square has undergone a thorough renovation to be a cosy place for pedestrians; …

… the red and white barriers are about to disappear. 

The restaurant owner is happy that the works will soon be accomplished. 

I continue my way to Berlin, my mother town. I arrive, feel at home and have another excellent dish, now at my favourite Vietnamese restaurant Viet Koch BBQ at the Breitenbachplatz. 

 

I will stay in Berlin for about ten days.

 

Remembering Luckau in 2018

In summer 2018, I visited Luckau with a friend of mine. Standing in front of the Ratskeller, we debated, whether we should eat here – it was lunch time. The owner heard us speak Swiss German and asked us in. He had worked in Switzerland for some years and he loved to hear our dialect.

We entered – what a good choice!

I had “Lausitzer Leibgerichte” (Lausitzer favourites): Fried trout filet, regional curd with horse radish and linseed oil, aspic of pickled pork knuckle,  pickled gherkins, corniness (or schmalz) with apple and onion. It was delicious.

With our dishes we had a glass of local wine, Marbachs Wolfshügel. I had a mouthful – not more, as I was driving; we took the rest of the bottle with us.

After lunch, we strolled through the small town. 

Just next to the Ratskeller is the Georgenkapelle (Chapel of Saint George, also called Hausmannsturm), built around 1200 in late Romanic style. Until the reformation in the 16th century, it was a chapel . In 1679 the tower was enhanced to 47m; it was now the seat of the city guard. Since 1969 the tower has been used as a festival hall. (Source: Information plate).  

Building the church of Saint Nicolas (Nikolai Kirche) started in the early 13th century. After a fire, the church was rebuilt around 1400, in gothic style now. After another fire in 1644, the interior was renovated in baroque style (a rarity in protestant Brandenburg; source: Information plate).  

The moat and the town fortification have been well preserved and provide a nice stroll around the city. 

Luckau has an 800 year long tradition of growing wine that halted in 1926. It has now been reactivated. This is castle hill vineyard that was renewed in the year 2000. 

Jürgen Rietze owns a vineyard west of Luckau. We met him working here. After the fall of the iron curtain, he learnt the wine business in the Stuttgart region. In 2005, he returned and started his own vineyard  in Luckau. In 2012, he was included in the wine guide of Berlin. He is proud of his vineyard – he points out that it is facing south. We frown. He laughs. Well, you, being Swiss, might have steeper slopes, here we are in Brandenburg, he adds. Yes, looking at the vineyard carefully, I can see, it is slightly slanting. I would love to try his wine, but he has no bottle for us right now.

Now, three years later, in 2021, I have returned to the welcoming little town Luckau, and I hope to return soon again with my long-year friend from Berlin.

 

Sources: