|My Berlin experiences have an honest brutality that force me to see the truth of what’s right in front of my face, usually without me wanting too.|
One typical experience happened one clear Berlin morning while crossing a deserted cobblestone square to see the statue of Hermann von Helmoltz that stands at the entrance of die Humboldt Universität. Being an academic fascinated by medicine, physics, music and the arts, I belief that Helmoltz had one of the greatest minds ever, and was the last true Renaissance scientist. Considering his famous alumni, this is no faint praise.
If you’d asked me about politics that morning, I would have told you that I had absolutely no interest — but Berlin always has other ideas.
Halfway across the square, to my surprise, I noticed a window in the ground of the square. This was, of course, the famous denkmal that recalls the infamous Nazi book burning that happened in the Bebelplatz. I instantly recalled with horror, those imprinted archival pictures and suddenly realised where I was. I also knew, unlike many, that scores of these books were priceless medical texts from Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institut für Sexualwissenschaft. As I entered the university gate, I realised that this abomination would have been in full view of my German academic university colleagues.
I found Helmholtz’s statute, gazing upon the Bebelplatz. “What would you have done Hermann?” In my mind, I could see blazing books and thought, shaking, “What would I have done?”
Yet another Berlin in-your-face experience...