My foreboding about fenced off green space seems, so far, unfounded. The Berlin Senat has stated that not only is recuperative sitting on benches “expressly permitted” but also lying lengthways on grass, provided there’s a five metre distance between other reclining counterparts. Not sure if that’s in a 360 degree sense or just side by side. My hunch that barbecues would be banned, however, was well-founded, with picnics included too.
As I had to go and pick up a Folgerezept (repeat prescription) at my doctor’s surgery today, I called ahead, took along the Mundschutz (facemask) requested and headed off on my bike. This time I went through Anita-Berber-Park which is a reclaimed cemetery, named after the Weimar era dancer buried in a pauper’s grave there. In Otto Dix’s famous portrait, Anita Berber was only 26 but looks at least ten years older, testament maybe to her live-fast lifestyle, she died three years later.
Though I think it entirely fitting the cemetery should bear her name, there’s a curious story attached to it. Sometime in 2015, as the site was being re-landscaped, there was a local neighbourhood competition to decide what the park should be named. On a designated date, the winners and runners-up were announced at a festive ceremony, complete with music and prizes. A man who likes to be known as Billy, a jazz musician, picked up first prize and a “golden Schiller”, a bust-style-trophy. Anita Berber was suggested by a number of people but they came second. Billy’s choice was Olga Benario, a German Communist freedom fighter.
The social democrat politician handing out the prizes, said through a slightly gritted smile that of course many places were named after communists in Berlin, and the Neukölln town hall itself stood on Karl Marx Straße. Many months elapsed, the park was opened and the plaque said Anita not Olga. Seeing the poitician later, he assured me the naming was always going to rest in the hands of the senate. When I bumped into Billy he shrugged. Not sure if he sprayed the word seen in black on the lower part of the sign which was subsequently deleted.
At my doctors, I had to hand my insurance card through a crack in the street-side window to get my prescription passed out to me. At least the surgery is open, some I’ve heard have temporarily closed due to fears of under protection. The reception gave me a friendly wave and we smiled behind our masks.
On the way to the chemist, I spotted a group of sparrows being delightfully social, as is their wont in Berlin, occupying the pleasantly empty pavement.