Berlin – freedom of expression

Another thing you notice about Berlin is the extent to which freedom of expression surrounds you wherever you are. Everyone is familiar with the images of the old Berlin Wall, which weren’t famous because the grey concrete was anything special to look at; it attracted attention because of the vibrant defacement that people felt it needed, to stamp human identity on what was otherwise a structure built specifically to separate and dehumanise a city community.

Berlin’s history from a few decades further back in time needs no introduction, but when you wander round Berlin today you get a sense that those responsible for that period of history would, were they around today, be appalled by the extent to which personal freedom thrives in Berlin. The city’s rebellious personality is ubiquitous, as is its unique mix of global business and party loving culture. Berlin leads the world in dance and techno music, as well as other areas of modern popular culture, all flowing from the diversity of races, backgrounds and orientations that make up its population. The old regime would absolutely hate it – which must surely be the highest form of praise you can get.

One area which is getting special attention from the locals is the redevelopment of areas of the former East Berlin ¬†around the river Spree. Local squatters have made their views very clear, while occupants of one of the huge empty communist buildings on the river front are a little more forceful in their language, if you look carefully…

We don't want no yuppie flats - Berlin

Media Spree - Berlin

 

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Berlin – politics and radio interference

I was in Berlin a few weeks ago, to do a panel session on collective rights management for music, mainly in the context of broadcast. It was interesting to be in a country where broadcast and telecommunications have played such a huge political role, good and very bad, over recent decades. It’s interesting that even in 2013 this continues to be extremely significant – perhaps not in manipulating the masses, but in no less political terms, as the recent bugging of German politicians’ telephone communications by the US government has shown.

The US embassy in Berlin is sandwiched immediately between the Brandenburg Gate and Holocaust Memorial, just off Pariser Platz. Everyone knows the Brandenburg Gate, but the other two may not be familiar, so a couple of photos are below.

The US Embassy in Berlin:

US embassy in BerlinThe garden of the US Embassy looks out onto the Brandenburg Gate and Pariser Platz:

Brandenburg Gate

 

And round to the left, on the other side of the US Embassy is the striking and unsettling Holocaust Memorial, or to give it its formal name, the ‘Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe’.

Berlin Holocaust Memorial

 

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