If, like thousands of Germans, you decide to take your summer holidays in Mallorca (Majorca to the English) and happen to be there for Midsummer I would highly recommend the Nit de San Joan (St John’s Night) celebrations in Palma de Mallorca.
I was visiting friends in Can Pastilla when the event took place this year and this was one of my highlights of my holiday.
Nit de San Joan (St John’s Night) is a celebration of the summer solstice and particularly significant in Catalonian areas. Also known as Nit del Foc (Night of Fire), in Palma de Mallorca revellers gathered near the cathedral, La Seu, where ‘demons’ sent showers of sparks into the crowds.
If, like me, you want to get up close and personal with the action I would recommend wearing a long sleeved cotton top – the sparks sting a bit when they hit you.
If you can’t wait a year for the next Nit de San Joan celebration here’s a short video of my experience.
Nit de San Joan (St John’s Night) in Palma de Mallorca
I have Cihan to thank for suggesting I visit Plötzensee, a small glacial lake in the residential area of Wedding in Berlin, fora wonderful afternoon and early evening spent there last week.
Smaller than many of Berlin’s more famous lakes Plötzensee is just a short stroll from the end stop of the M13 tram at Virchow-Klinikum and named after the roach (Plötze) that were abundant in its waters.
A number of information points around the lake tell its history and detail the wildlife to be found there.
There is also a Strandbad (a man-made beach) with the obligatory Strandkörbe (beach baskets) and a Biergarten on the south west shore.
As I took pictures of the Strandbad, a nearby sunbather pointed out a family of swans moving along the lake.
I followed the swans to the north west shore (where I took the first image in this post) where they stopped to feed.
One of the adults watched me carefully until he or she realised that I was no threat.
I was able to take lots of photographs of the cygnets before a helicopter flying overhead frightened them off.
Niki & The Dove – DJ, Ease My Mind has been playing on repeat in my head since I heard it when I walked into a Berlin clothes shop last week. I first heard the song when it featured in the BBC Sound of 2012 list but hadn’t thought of it since.
This unofficial video (the official video won’t play in Germany because of GEMA) features the acrobatics of Mouvance – trapeze artists Helen Turcotte and Luc Martin – which really matches the mood of the track for me.
The 1960s was a decade of great social and technological advances and Berlin, as the main flashpoint between the ideologies of capitalism and socialism, saw more changes than most cities.
The loss of skilled workers to the West, as referred to in my Twentieth Century Berlin on Film – The 1950s post led the government of East Germany to take the extraordinary step of sealing its borders. Officially referred to as the Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart the Berlin Wall was built to halt an exodus that threatened to de-stabilise the fledgling state.
In 1963 the eyes of the world were on Berlin when the President of the United States of America, John F Kennedy, stood in front of the Rathaus Schöneberg and, in a show of solidarity with the people of West Berlin declared “Ich bin ein Berliner”.
“Niemand hat die Absicht eine Mauer zu errichten” – Walter Ubricht (1961)
At a press conference on 15 June 1961 in response to a question from a West German journalist, Walter Ulbricht, the leader of East Germany, uttered the now immortal words, “Niemand hat die Absicht eine Mauer zu errichten” – in English, ‘No one has any intention to erect a wall’.
The Wall – US Propaganda Film – Berlin Wall 1962
Less than two months later, in the night of 13 August 1961, East German soldiers began the process of marking out the border and rolling out barbed wire to prevent unauthorised movement between East and West Berlin.
The US propaganda film, The Wall, from 1962 includes some of the most iconic footage of the recently divided city – the scene at 6:23 where a woman runs into the barbed wire at the border makes me wince every time I watch it but is a clear indication of the desperation to leave.
A Royal Day in Berlin (1965)
Queen Elizabeth II travels to West Berlin in 1965, the first visit of a British monarch to Germany for more than half a century.
Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin “Counter-Intelligence Special Operations” (1969)
Taken from a US Army training film this footage from 1969 shows Checkpoint Charlie and other notable Berlin sights and outlines procedures for observing East Germans and other potential threats in Berlin.
At the end of March I finally got around to upgrading my iPhone 3GS to an iPhone 5 and as a result I’ve been taking a lot more photos with my phone whilst I’m out and about in Berlin.
It was at the start of April that I really started to notice the sweet machines on the walls of the city.
The ease of taking photos with my iPhone meant that I captured more of the interesting patterns in the city’s architecture like these coloured blinds contrasted against the concrete of a Kreuzberg building…
…and a Plattenbau near Alexanderplatz.
And I snapped scenes that caught my eye like these girls walking under the artwork in the U-Bahnhof at Schloßstrasse.
A great new food event – Street Food Thursday at Markthalle IX – started in April in Berlin and means there’s more time to enjoy the incredible sandwiches, like this Beef Brisket, at Big Stuff Smoked BBQ…
…which I followed up with cocktails at Würgeengel.
As well as the JR exhibition at Galerie Henrik Springmann I would also highly recommend the Olympus OM-D Photography Playground at the Opernwerkstätten. I took lots of photos of this wonderful installation by Korean artist, Jongmoon Choi.
Another consequence of taking more phone photos is that I have become more fond of Instagram and the breathtaking photos of Miss Underground inspired me to look for empty spaces in the Berlin U-Bahn like the exit at U-Bhf Klosterstrasse.
And finally, sunset season is well and truly underway in Berlin. Seeing the pink skies out of my window I grabbed my phone and captured this sunset over Mauerpark from my balcony.
Throughout the 1950s the government of the DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republik) continued a process of Socialisation in East Germany. Tensions were running high between the East and West and also amongst the people of the DDR. The ‘brain drain’ had started, as workers sought out the higher pay and better working conditions in the West.
East Berlin Parade 1950
The Freie Deutsche Jugend (FDJ) (Free German Youth) marching through East Berlin in 1950.
East Germany Propaganda – East Berlin 1950
There is more footage of the FDJ gathering in Berlin in 1950 with commentary (auf Deutsch) in this longer film.
DDR im Film XVII – Stalinallee (1951)
Set to the song Jugend erwach (Bau auf, bau auf), Part 17 of the series DDR – Das Original shows the construction of buildings on the Stalinallee, now Karl-Marx-Allee.
GDR Uprising (1953)
What started as a strike by construction workers in East Berlin the previous day turned into a full-scale uprising against the government of the DDR on 17 June 1953. Workers were protesting against plans to increase working hours or cut pay and the policy of prioritising heavy industry that meant a shortage of consumer goods and power.
Metropolis of Vice, an episode from the Legendary Sin Cities documentary series focuses on the potent mix of sex and entertainment in the Weimar era Berlin of the 1920s.
“Its very name became synonymous with perversion, debauchery and creativity. Berlin in the 1920s was the sex capital of Europe.”
In response to the hyperinflation of the 1920s, driven by poverty, the sex trade in Berlin exploded as a means to put food on the table.
“Berlin was what sexual daydreams wanted to be. You could find almost anything there and maybe everything.”
In this environment, performers such as Claire Waldoff, Anita Berber and Marlene Dietrich thrived and became stars. Word of Berlin’s raucous nightlife and attitude of sexual freedom spread and drew more artists and creative people to the city.
I first posted this documentary on Facebook and Twitter 6 months ago before I began my Sunday Documentary series.