Berlin is a city full of used-to-bes and while metamorphosis is common to all city development, Berlin’s cityscape was pretty much on fast forward for the whole of the 20th century. Early on, one of the transformations that lives to this day was a gravel pit that became a baroque-style garden which was where I went today. Being early on Sunday, it was quiet and people were definitely following the spatial stipulations, probably as it was very easy to do so. Several metres below ground level, Körner Park comes as a surprise, especially in its style and layout, looking more like the sunken grounds of a French château than part of a working class district. But then Neukölln is full of surprises and this park is as much a part of the neighbourhood as everything else around it.
At first glance the surroundings might look rather bourgeois but the site has hosted political action for longer than most people realise. According to this article for instance, the ‘orangery’ (a long building set into the west wall which is now a publicly subsidised art gallery) was once “an exhibition space for socialist propaganda in the 1930s” One day I’ll find out more about that!
More recently, the sedate looking lawn has had at least two slogans seared into it. One was a call for affordable living space for all and another a political protest against the G20 summit.
Today there were handwritten posters from the Seebrücke initiative, which has campaigned for the evacuation of refugee camps in Greece as part of a nationwide day of action, pasted on the staircase ballustrades. One of them outlined graphically in numbers how impossible the sedate physical distancing or even hand-washing we are able to practise would be in Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos: “1300 people sharing 1 tap, 167 people sharing 1 toilet, 240 people sharing a shower. Barely any soap, 5-6 people in one small tent.” The note demanded that politicians and the EU evacuate the people to a safe place and immediately to avert catastrophe.