Berlin Childhood around 2011

[Adhering to a rather rigid psychogeographical formula, the following pairs passages from Walter Benjamin’s Berlin Childhood around 1900 with photographs of their now displaced or disappeared sites, found with the help of a city map from 1900 – more an exercise in deadpan disjunction than melancholy rumination, with the coincidentally superimposed locations now occupied, on a ferragosto Monday, by listless pensioners, scattered prostitutes, and occasional passing traffic, though mostly by not much of anyone or anything at all.]

Of all the high-class residences I have seen, this was the only cosmopolitan one. Not that you’d think so by looking at it. But Madonna di Campiglio and Brindisi, Westerland and Athens, and wherever else on her travels she bought postcards to send me – they all breathed the air of Blumeshof. (‘Blumeshof 12’, Selected Writings, Volume 3, p. 369)

First of all, one must not suppose that the covered market was called the Markt-Halle. No, it was pronounced Mark-Thalle. And just as these two words in the customary use of language, were so worn out that neither retained its original sense, so, in my customary passage through that hall, all the images it afforded had so decayed that none of them spoke to the original concept of buying and selling. (‘Market Hall’, p. 360)

In those days, every childhood was still overshadowed by the aunts who no longer left their house – who always, when we arrived on a visit with our mother, had been expecting us; always, from under the same black bonnet, and in the same silk dress, from the same armchair and the same bay window, would bid us welcome. Like fairies who cast their spell over an entire valley without once descending into it, they ruled over whole rows of streets without ever setting foot in them. Among these beings was Auntie Lehmann. Her good North-German name secured her right to occupy, over the course of a generation, the alcove that overlooked the corner of Steglitzer Strasse and Genthiner Strasse. The streetcorner was one of those least touched by the changes of the past thirty years. (‘At the Corner of Steglizter and Genthiner’, p. 358)

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3 Responses to Berlin Childhood around 2011

  1. mi veronese says:

    I loved this post! I’m looking for the Blumeshof street in Berlin, but didn’t find it on Google Maps. Any suggestion? :))

  2. mi veronese says:

    Oh, I just found it in the map you posted. Its near by Steglizter strasse. Thanks!!!!

  3. lichtenrade says:

    May I answer as a Berlin resident and someone, who knows this area a little. The street “Blumeshof” was closed down in the 70s. The Berlin authorities decided to build a youth hostel there. The Street is a part of the busparking area of this youth hostel. On this Streetview pic you see the entrance of the “Blumeshof” – – the parking is “on/in” the street. The youth hostel is the more modern building in the background.

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