I am a camera - Berlin 1973
I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording not thinking.
Recording the man shaving at the window opposite and the woman in the kimono washing her hair.
Some day, all all this will have to be developed, carefully printed, fixed.
Those three sentences make up the second paragraph of Christopher Isherwood's Berlin Diary, which is dated autumn 1930. The four photographs were taken by me during my first visit to Berlin in 1973, at the height of the cold war - see Final approach to Berlin. They were taken on black & white film using an Olympus Pen S 35mm camera. They were then developed, carefully printed, fixed and mislaid during one of our numerous house moves. I found them a few weeks ago at the bottom of a drawer, and they have never been published before.
The header photo was taken close to the notorious Spree River crossing point. It shows the memorials to those who were shot while attempting to swim the river and escape to the West. The two memorials on the right are dated 1973, the year of my visit. This point on the Spree can be seen in very different times in picture three of my 2005 photo essay on Berlin. There is more on the dreaded East German Vopos (Volkspolizei) who shot the escapers, together with another exclusive photo, in my 2007 article. The second and third photos were taken from viewing platforms on the west side of the wall looking across the death strip. The third photo shows Potsdamer Platz. The showpiece TV tower built by the GDR in the centre of East Berlin can be seen in the distance. Propoganda was all part of the game in those days.
The old Philharmonie, home of the Berlin Philharmonic, was in Bernburger Straße close to Potsdamer Platz. It was bombed in 1943; read the story in Furtwängler and the forgotten new music, and in the Berlin Philharmonic's darkest hour. Close by is Karl Freidrich Schinkel's Konzerthaus which was built in 1821, but was a gutted shell as a result of wartime bombing during my first visit. It was rebuilt in 1979. Read about how, during the rebuilding, the GDR rewrote music history. And staying with photography, don't miss the disturbing images in the Siegfried Lauterwaser collection.
All photos (c) On An Overgrown Path 2009. Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk