Category Archives: Music & Films

Berlin Songs: Die Berlin Hymne // BERLIN-IST-BESTE

Die Berline Hymne - Berlin ist Beste - BMX Handstand

Photo: Berlin ist Beste

‘Morgens Berlin, Mittags Berlin, Abends Berlin, Nachts Berlin’.  Die Berlin Hymne is a song about how Berlin makes you feel alive from Frank Wolf, the man behind Berlin ist Beste – ‘the unofficial image campaign for Berlin’.

You can find the full song lyrics on the Berlin ist Beste website and for non-German speakers Google Translate is your friend, though it struggles a little with the Berlinerisch.

The video was filmed over 4 sunny days in Berlin and one night at the car park of the ICC for the BMX scenes.  A few tourist attractions feature – there are brief glimpses of the Fernsehturm, Potsdamer Platz and Brandenburger Tor – but only in a section that makes a distinction between this side of Berlin and how Berliners see their city.

‘Eine Stadt, 12 Bezirke, viele Freaks.  Jeder stolz auf Berlin, jeder stolz auf seinen Kiez’.

(One city, 12 districts, lots of freaks.  Each proud of Berlin, each proud of their neighbourhood).

Die Berlin Hymne // BERLIN-IST-BESTE

If you liked that, you might also want to check out another song, Let’s Go Moabit.  You may have seen the ‘Moabit ist Beste’ stickers that Frank leaves around his district.

The BESTE Boys – Let’s Go Moabit

You can keep up to date with the latest news from Berlin ist Beste on their website, Facebook and Twitter.

Sunday Documentary: The Big Picture – Berlin Duty

Soldiers in a tank marked Tempelhof from the US Army documentary The Big Picture - Berlin Duty

Photo: Still from the US Army documentary ‘The Big Picture – Berlin Duty’

The Big Picture – Berlin Duty was produced by the Army Pictorial Centre and presented by the United States Army.  What is essentially a propaganda film for the US Army is valuable as a documentary as it includes footage of day-to-day activities in West Berlin as well as key events in the history of the city.

The footage at 6:41 shows the utter devastation wrought on the city of Berlin by the bombers of the Allied Forces during World War II.  Looking at the rebuilt city it is difficult to imagine just how much needed to be cleared and reconstructed in the years following the war.

Amongst the historical moments captured are the Berlin Airlift in 1948-49; the riots in East Berlin in 1953 that came to be known as the People’s Uprising in East Germany (Volksaufstand in der DDR), commemorated in Berlin in the name of one its most famous boulevards, Strasse des 17 Juni; and the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961.

Of course no US depiction of events in Berlin would be complete without a mention of JFK’s ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ speech – an important sign that the US would not forsake the people of West Berlin.

Keep your eye out for some familiar Berlin sights: Schloss Charlottenburg; the Reichstag; the Soviet Memorial on Strasse des 17 Juni; and Tempelhof Airport for instance.

Also featured is the Protestant Church of the Reconciliation Parish, blown up by the East Germans in 1985 and now the site of the Chapel of Reconciliation (Kapelle der Versöhnung), part of the Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer.

The Big Picture – Berlin Duty

Lost Dreams – Spreepark Berlin

Still from Lost Dreams - Spreepark Berlin by Friedhelm Fischer

Photo: Still from Lost Dreams – Spreepark Berlin by Friedhelm Fischer

Berlin’s abandoned theme park, Spreepark Plänterwald, must be one of the most well-known urbex destinations in the world.

The neglected amusement park has been in my thoughts often since it was bought back by the city of Berlin in March 2014.

Spreepark hasn’t been open as an amusement park since 2002, when the owners ran into financial difficulties. Those troubles were compounded when a botched drug smuggling operation landed the head of the Witte family, Norbert, and his son Marcel in prison.

I wrote more about this intriguing back-story in my ‘Spreepark Plänterwald – Berlin’s Abandoned Theme Park’ post.

Since its closure, Spreepark has been an unofficial playground for curious souls eager to be swallowed by the brightly coloured tiger’s mouth of the Spreeblitz ride whilst the slowly turning Ferris Wheel provides an eerie soundtrack.

This beautifully shot and wonderfully atmospheric video from Friedhelm Fischer has me longing to return to the abandoned theme park by the banks of the Spree – one of those places that makes me think ‘Dat is Berlin!

Lost Dreams – Spreepark Berlin

Ohrwurm: Bill Bailey Kraftwerk Tribute

Bill Bailey Tribute to Kraftwerk - Still from Part Troll DVD

Photo: Bill Bailey Tribute to Kraftwerk – still from the Part Troll DVD

“I would like now to present another tribute to a favourite band of mine – Kraftwerk”, says Bill Bailey.  “This is one of their lesser-known tracks…lesser-performed tracks, which I’d like to give a rare airing to tonight so this is my tribute to Kraftwerk.”  What follows, I hope you’ll agree is genius.

If anyone is unfamiliar with Kraftwerk you should check out Sunday Documentary: Krautrock – The Rebirth of Germany.

I won’t say any more for now because I don’t want to spoil the surprise.

Bill Bailey Kraftwerk Tribute

The attention to detail is what makes it so great – from the music to the set, to the translation of the lyrics.

For those not in the know, the Hokey Cokey (or the Hokey Pokey depending on where you come from) is a song with an accompanying dance routine, popular at children’s parties.

Sunday Documentary: Bauhaus – The Face of the 20th Century

Titles from the documentary Bauhaus: The Face of the 20th Century

Source: Titles from the documentary ‘Bauhaus: The Face of the 20th Century’

Bauhaus: The Face of the 20 th Century, a 1994 documentary, traces the development of the Bauhaus movement from its formation in Weimar by Walter Gropius to the establishment of the Bauhaus School in Dessau to its last stand in a derelict factory in Berlin.

Like so many aspects of life in Germany in the first half of the twentieth century the Bauhaus was affected by the political situation in the country – its lifecycle mirrors that of the Weimar RepublicBerlin-born architect Walter Gropius formed his ideas of simplistic design with an altruistic ideology following his service in the army during World War I.  He first put his ideas into practice in 1919 in Weimar, the political centre of the new Germany.

The growth of National Socialism in the area around Weimar and the school’s opposite political views effectively forced the Bauhaus to move to Dessau where a new building, which fully reflected the movement’s philosophy and designs was to be its new home.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be the end of the Bauhaus’s struggle with the Nazi party.  The school in Dessau was also forced to close and became a training school for party functionaries.

Gropius was able to gather an impressive faculty of important names from the fields of art, design and architecture including Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, and Mies van der Rohe, who was to be the school’s last director.  He found new premises in Berlin, a derelict factory in Steglitz, and moved operations there in 1932.

The reprieve was short-lived and the Bauhaus was forced to close its doors forever when the Nazis again intervened in 1933, the year they came to power in Germany.

Though its tenure was unfortunately short, the Bauhaus movement has had a far-reaching influence on modern art, design and architecture.  Its mark can still be seen in Berlin – the Hansaviertel, Gropiusstadt and Neue Nationalgalerie all bear its architectural fingerprint.  And of course there is the wonderful Bauhaus Archiv, with an extensive collection of Bauhaus objects and designs.

Bauhaus: The Face of the 20th Century

Berlin Songs: Solomun – Kackvogel

Still from Solomun - Kackvogel featuring Friedrich Liechtenstein from the Edeka Supergeil advert

Still from Solomun – Kackvogel featuring Friedrich Liechtenstein from the Edeka Supergeil advert

An advert for the German supermarket chain Edeka went viral recently. My social media streams have been full of ‘Supergeil’ all week. The star of the advert is Friedrich Liechtenstein, a German musician and entertainer.  He also stars in the video for Kackvogel by Solomun, dancing through the streets of Berlin and eventually fighting with a man in a bear costume under a bridge near Alexanderplatz station.

Solomun – Kackvogel

Sunday Documentary: Nazi Megastructures – Fortress Berlin

Flakturm in Humboldthain Park: Screenshot from Nazi Megastructures - Fortress Berlin by National Geographic

Photo: Screenshot from Nazi Megastructures – Fortress Berlin by National Geographic

The National Geographic documentary, Nazi Megastructures – Fortress Berlin, tells how, determined to fight on to the bitter end, Adolf Hitler, with the help of his architect, Albert Speer, attempted to turn Berlin into a fortress with World War II approaching its conclusion.

Having turned the tide in the war, the Red Army was making significant progress into Germany.  At Seelower Höhen (Seelow Heights), near the Polish border, irrigation ditches were widened to act as tank traps, slowing down the Soviet army’s advance on Berlin.

The outer ring of Berlin’s defences was a natural obstacle, the Teltowkanal (Teltow Canal), and considerable armaments have been amassed at Flughafen Berlin Tempelhof (Tempelhof Airport).

The city was further protected by three enormous Flak Towers, concrete monoliths mounted with heavy artillery, of which only the Flakturm in Humboldthain park remains today.

At the centre of Hitler’s defences is the Führerbunker, from where he directs his forces in their last desperate attempts to hold Berlin.

A mixture of archive footage, computer reconstructions, and expert opinions with the likes of a tour guide from Berliner Unterwelten (who offer tours of the surviving Flakturm, as wells as other architectural treasures under Berlin) Nazi Megastructures – Fortress Berlin is a fascinating portrait of Hitler’s ultimately futile defence plans.

Nazi Megastructures – Fortress Berlin

Sunday Documentary: Do Communists Have Better Sex? (NSFW)

Do Communists Have Better Sex Cartoon Still 2

Photo: Still from Do Communists Have Better Sex Cartoon

The 2006 documentary ‘Do Communists Have Better Sex?’, explores the sexual attitudes of Germans and in particular the differences between the mind-set of East and West Germans when it comes to sex and sexuality.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, scientists were keen to study the sociological and psychological differences of the previously divided people of the newly re-unified nation.

With footage from numerous TV programmes and public information films, the documentary examines the paradox that in the more controlled society of communist East Germany, people are more satisfied with their sex lives.

It is suggested that against the backdrop of seemingly overt sexual openness: pornography; nudity; Frei Körper Kultur (FKK); and prostitutes brazenly offering themselves on well-trodden streets, like the area around Berlin’s S-Bahnhof Zoologischer Garten, sex was not openly discussed in the more liberal West.

Do Communists Have Better Sex Cartoon Still 2

Photo: Still from Do Communists Have Better Sex Cartoon

In East Germany where abortion and prostitution were illegal, sex education and sexual discussions were more prevalent.

At 45 minutes, all I could think was ‘Wa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pow!‘ because of Ylvis’s What Does The Fox Say?

Due to the subject matter and the inclusion of numerous scenes of nudity (including the obligatory naked volleyball shots) , the documentary ‘Do Communists Have Better Sex?’ has been age restricted by YouTube so you will need to sign in to view it.

Do Communists Have Better Sex? (2006)

Sunday Documentary: Sub Berlin – The Story of Tresor

Removing the Tresor sign - still from Sub Berlin - The Story of Tresor

Photo: Still from Sub Berlin – The Story of Tresor

Tresor was at the vanguard of the Techno movement in Berlin as the city adjusted to its post-reunification status.

Berlin newcomers and the press hail Berghain as one of the world’s greatest clubs but Techno lovers of the 90s and early 00s will say ‘you should have been in ‘the old Tresor’.

The old club on Leipziger Strasse was torn down in 2005 as part of the redevelopment of Potsdamer Platz.  The building housing the original Tresor had a checkered past.  It was previously the vault under the Wertheim department store, seized by the Nazis and subsequently destroyed during the bombing raids of World War II.

Tresor re-opened in 2007 in Heizkraftwerk Mitte, a former power station on Köpenicker Strasse, and a new shopping mall is currently being built at its previous location on Leipziger Strasse.

Through interviews with clubbers and DJs who were part of the story, photos and video footage, Sub Berlin – The Story of Tresor, a 2009 documentary by Tilman Künzel tells the tale of Tresor from its opening in 1991 to the closure of its original location in 2005.

Sub Berlin – The Story of Tresor

Ohrwurm: Adel Tawil – Lieder

Und ich singe diese Lieder - still from the video for Lieder by Adel Tawil

Photo: Still from the video for Lieder by Adel Tawil

Lieder by Adel Tawil should possibly come with a warning as it is essentially 32 Ohrwürme in one (if my Maths is right).  The English translation of the title is ‘Songs’ and the lyrics refer to other songs, e.g. the first line ‘Ich ging wie ein Ägypter’ – I walk like an Egyptian – is a reference to the 1980s hit by The Bangles.

In my efforts to learn German, I have completed the whole Rosetta Stone course and I’m working my way through Duolingo.  Georg of Digital Cosmonaut has often suggested listening to German Hip Hop as a learning tool and when I heard this pop song I got a glimpse of how that might help.

The fact that so many of the songs used in Lieder are familiar to me makes translating the lyrics and working out the references a fun way to improve my Deutsch.

This video posted on Adel Tawil’s YouTube channel includes the lyrics and some pictures that make deciphering the references a little easier.

Adel Tawil “Lieder” (Lyric Video)

If after watching the video you’re still a bit unsure of the lyrics here is a very handy table from the Wikipedia.de article for Lieder by Adel Tawil.

Text Anspielung auf
1. Strophe
Ich ging wie ein Ägypter, Walk Like an Egyptian – The Bangles
hab’ mit Tauben geweint. When Doves Cry – Prince
War ein Voodoo-Kind, Voodoo Child – Jimi Hendrix
wie ein rollender Stein. Like a Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan
Im Dornenwald sang Maria für mich, Maria durch ein Dornwald ging
ich starb in deinen Armen… (I Just) Died in Your Arms – Cutting Crew
…Bochum ’84. Bochum – Herbert Grönemeyer
Ich ließ die Sonne nie untergehen, Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me – Elton John
in meiner wundervollen Welt. What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
2. Strophe
Ich war willkommen im Dschungel Welcome to the Jungle – Guns N’ Roses
und fremd im eigenen Land. Fremd im eigenen Land – Advanced Chemistry
Mein persönlicher Jesus Personal Jesus – Depeche Mode
und im Gehirn total krank. Insane in the Brain – Cypress Hill
Und ich frage mich wann werd ich, werd ich berühmt sein, When Will I Be Famous – Bros
so wie Rio mein König für die Ewigkeit. König von Deutschland – Rio Reiser
Ich war am Ende der Straße…angelangt, End of the Road – Boyz II Men
war ein Verlierer, Baby! Loser – Beck
Doch dann hielt ich ein Cover in der Hand, Killing in the Name – Rage Against the Machine
darauf ein Mönch, der in Flammen stand,
Kurt Cobain sagte mir, ich soll kommen wie ich bin. Come as You Are – Nirvana
3. Strophe
Ich war einer von fünf Jungs, The Boyz
„One Minute“ aus, dann war’s vorbei. One Minute – The Boyz
Ich sang nur noch für mich,
für ’ne unendlich lange Zeit.
Dann traf ich auf sie Annette Humpe
und sie erinnerte mich. Du erinnerst mich an Liebe – Ich + Ich
Wir waren Welten entfernt Ich + Ich
und doch vom selben Stern. Vom selben Stern – Ich + Ich
Refrain
Und ich singe diese Lieder,
tanz’ mit Tränen in den Augen. Dancing with Tears in My Eyes – Ultravox
Bowie war für’n Tag mein Held, Heroes – David Bowie
und EMF kann es nicht glauben. Unbelievable – EMF
Und ich steh’ im lila Regen, Purple Rain – Prince
ich will ein Feuerstarter sein. Firestarter – The Prodigy
Whitney wird mich immer lieben I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston
und Michael lässt mich nicht allein You Are Not Alone – Michael Jackson

Source: Wikipedia