This photo was taken outside the Einstein Cafe (get it?) in West Berlin.. Our friend Ann Block took it. We were there for the Woody Allen movie, “Shadows and Fog”, in which I had a small part as a prostitute. We had an unbelievably interesting time there. It was, of course, after the wall came down and we went to East Berliln to the Pergamon Museum where they had both the entrance to the city and the entrance to the market place of the city of Pergamon. Incredible statuary and bas reliefs that were almost perfect because they had been buried for centuries and preserved. Pergamon was a city that competed with Athens (I believe) and so it was a city of great aspiration. The entrance to the city of Mesopotamia is also housed in this museum. It was awesome, awe inspiring and incredibly moving. You enter this bland, sterile, East Germany kind of brick building and WHAM!, once inside you are immediately faced with the majesty of this huge, sweeping white marble stair case leading to the gates to the city. It is majestic, thrilling, heartbreaking- the sense of continuity. . You couldn’t help but be moved to tears at the majesty of the structures and the sense that, exactly where you were standing, people had lived and walked centuries and centuries ago. In fact, at the entrance to the market place, a merchant of Pergamon had actually scratched his initials into the marble façade where he probably stood selling his wares. And the gates to Mesopotamia were purple and ocher, a great proportion of the clay bricks were the original. On either side of the walkway, leading to the gates, you pass ochre lions in bas relief against these purple bricks. (It may be reversed color-wise.) I was so moved by the whole experience, I may have misremembered the exact use of the colors. But the ochre and purple are correct.
Seeing the Berlin Wall where small portions of it still stood was moving and strangely eerie, displaced, covered with what suddenly seemed like urban graffiti. In West Berlin, the museum for Holocaust victims was staggering in the availability made of simple notebooks attached to a kiosk with written information and techniques describing how the Nazi regime had systematically organized the extermination of human beings. Almost like a How To Guide. Terribly saddening and horrifying. When I asked a Berliner why this horrific stuff was so present, she said so that people would never forget. Would realize the hideous reality of this systematic plan, the utter detachment Hitler and his regime felt from other living human beings. The whole trip was an emotional rollercoaster ride. One beautiful experience was seeing a reconstituted print of the film METROPOLIS screened on the sound stage at Bablesberg where it was shot in 1924-26. The Berlin Philharmonic, seated below the screen, played the music written for it. Our guide, a young German woman Claudia Deselaers, with whom we are still friends, sat behind us, leaning into our ears and translating into English the German subtitles. It was thrilling. When it was over, Jane and I and our friend Ann Block (who had traveled with us to Berlin) fell into sobs. A trip I don’t think any of us has forgotten or will.