Trav’lin (I.)

by Fabian Wolff

It’s easy to not be a Berlin asshole in Berlin. You know the type: complaining about Swabians and expats and basically everyone and everywhere that is not Berlin. Who cares, ultimately.

Maybe it’s not so easy to not be that outside of the city though. Like when I went to Eberswalde. It’s not a long trip, 28 minutes from Gesundbrunnen with the Regionalexpress. Some woods, some fields on the way there. Quite nice actually.

But almost immediately after I arrived I could feel the sarcasm sneaking up on me. It was a Saturday, not that cold, yet nobody was around. The streets were almost completely empty, all the shops were closed – except for two Döner and one Asian joint. And I was born in East Berlin – in the Charité one month before the wall came down – so I know what it’s like, I guess. But seeing a fashion store selling streetwear called “Free World” really was a bit much.

I was in Eberswalde because of the past. A memorial event for the Pogromnacht. Sometimes a date like that really gets to me, and sometimes it doesn’t. I never forget though. That day I thought of a joke: “A real sign of respect, to close all the stores on this sad day.”

Eberswalde had a Jewish community once, and a synagogue. In 1931 lightning struck and the synagogue caught fire. Eberswalde citizens – both Jewish and non-Jewish – helped to put it out. Seven years later other Eberswalde citizens burnt it to the ground. (I say “others” as if I know for sure, though maybe they were the same people.) Now there’s a closed-off wall, with trees inside. James E. Young says it’s the best memorial site for a destroyed synagogue in Europe. Growing with memory.

Later I’m on the market square, it’s dark now. I guess I’m hoping to see some wasted German youth. Just as a sign of life. But even they don’t show up. So maybe they’re home. Maybe they’re not even wasted. So I just go home, too.

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