Archive | January 2010

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Holocaust Memorial in Berlin. Photo: Ulla Hennig

I have to warn you, dear reader. This is a bit outside my usual blog posts.

Wednesday 27 January was Holocaust Memorial Day. Of course the German TV and radio mentioned it. But the most impressive tv-program was broadcasted on Arte, which is a German/French channel.

It showed Claude Lanzmann’s film Shoa, which was shot in 1985 and consists of nothing but interviews with people who were involved in the holocaust: jewish survivors, people who had lived near the death camps of Treblinka and Auschwitz-Birkenau, German nazis who were among those who killed.

The whole film lasted over three hours, but after listening two hours to the interviews and watching people I could not bear it no more. One Jewish barber who at the time of the making of the film lived in Israel told how he had to enter the gas chamber and cut the hair of men and women who did not know that their deaths was only a quarter of an hour away. He told how he met friends and relations there. He was not allowed to tell them about their fate, because the Nazis were afraid of panicking people. Anybody who acted against that order was brutally killed.

I can’t get that interview out of my mind. I have to think of two quotations: “Man be noble, supportive and good” (“Edel sei der Mensch, hilfreich und gut”) – there’s certainly a better translation into English as the one I give here. The second is “homo hominis lupus est” which means Man acts like a wolf to fellow man. The interview showed me how utterly cruel, even bad, men (and women) can be, men who were no monsters, had children, had wives, had pets. And that made me very sad.

Deviation from the Daily Routine

Almost everyday my way to work via the public transport in Berlin is the same: Walk to subway (carefully, don’t slip on the icy sidewalk!); take subway no 1 (only one station), then subway no 2. Exit subway and take the bus. Leave bus almost in front of office building. Walk to the office (carefully, don’t slip on the icy sidewalk!).

After work it is the same: bus and two subways. I know the faces of quite a lot of the people in the bus, and even in the crowded subways I recognize two or three people. Very often I get into a mode where I close my eyes and shut myself off the reality around me.

But today I decided to deviate from my daily routine – I took another bus and took another route. And suddenly I noticed that I looked at the houses and shops which we passed in a very different way – I wanted to take in information and was fully awake.

And the interesting fact was: I felt relaxed when I arrived at my flat. Relaxed and alive at the same moment. That deviation from my daily routine did me a lot of good, and I decided to have more of it.

Deep Winter in Berlin

winter in berlin

Winter in Berlin. Photo: Ulla Hennig

I am writing this post on a very cold Sunday morning in Berlin – the temperature is – 13 degrees Celsius (which is 8.6 Fahrenheit).

Lakes and the river Havel and Spree are frozen; outside the urban center of Berlin we still have about 25 centimeters of snow. It is deep winter in Berlin.

I must admit that it took me some time to adapt to that kind of weather

  • in the beginning I hoped that it simply might go away (which gets more and more difficult if you are reading the daily weather forecast)
  • I was afraid of slipping on icy ground and afraid of the cold and tried to avoid getting outside (which is also difficult if your fridge is getting empty)

But since yesterday my attitude has changed a bit. I had to visit my friends whom I did not see for weeks, and I was looking forward to that. I had to go outside. So I looked up public transport in the internet in order to avoid long waiting times, added some more layers to my clothing, and marched off.

Ok, it was cold, but it did not kill me. The sun was shining after three weeks of hiding behind grey clouds, the air was dry, and I really enjoyed being outside (for some time). It was delicious to arrive at my friends’ and sip a mug of hot tea.

The weather people tell us that the cold weather will stay with us till Thursday next week. Well, I won’t cry when the temperatures will go up, but now I know that I will manage even with very low temperatures.

Sorting Things out

Do you know this feeling? You have been recovering from an illness, you don’t feel ill anymore, but your creativity or productivity has gone away. Your body is functioning again, but your mind is still in recovery mode.

I had this feeling until yesterday evening. I wrote a squidoo lens, yes, but it was without passion – and I am afraid, it read like that.

I took up my blog posting rhythm, but I was not passionate about it. I did it because I thought I had to, and in some way I wanted to, but the passionate flame of creativity was not blowing.

And on top of it all, I did not know what was wrong.

Until yesterday. I had a chat with a virtual Squidoo friend, and we talked about creativity and this feeling of hanging around, having no goals. It was only after the chat that things got clearer for me.

So the big question is: Where’s my passion and what are my goals?

I am still in the process of sorting things out. This blog has been a place for me to tell – tell stories about my daily life in Berlin, to tell you something about me (that’s why it is still called Ulla Hennig’s Weblog). I am still here, Berlin is still here and there are still stories to be told. “Sit down and tell them”, says my inner friend, with a friendly slap on my shoulder, “there are people interested in reading them.” “Thanks, inner friend”, “I will.”

And there’s Squidoo. I know where my passions and my interests are – in music, art and culture. I created some pretty good webpages on that field (“Yes, my inner friend, I am able to brag without blushing”). So I’ll continue to go in that direction, in my own speed, without pressure, but with some ideas already. I will keep you posted.

Tiger Rag

It is the 14th day in Berlin without sun. This kind of weather definitely gives me the blues. But – there’s one medicine for me, and that’s music. I love all kinds of music, but with this dreary weather I decided for the good old Dixieland jazz.

I don’t know how you are feeling at the moment, but listening to “Tiger Rag” definitely lifted my spirits. Here it is:

Salzburg: Getreidegasse

The Getreidegasse in Salzburg

Photo: courtesy of Rakel Ost Reynisdottir

The “Getreidegasse” (Grain Lane) in Salzburg is the main shopping street. No cars are allowed here, and as you can see on this picture as well, no flashing shop ads either.

Of course it was winter when I was there, but the lane was as crowded as it is in summer.


Hohensalzburg Fortress, Salzburg, AustriaPhoto: Courtesy of adobemac

Hohensalzburg Castle is towering over the city of Salzburg. Me and my cousin had the pleasure of a New Year’s Eve concert and a five course dinner. Both events took place in different halls of this building (first the concert and then the dinner!).

After the dinner at about 11.30 pm we went outside to watch the fireworks. We were offered one glas of sparkling wine which we held in our gloved hands. Of course there are always people who can’t wait till midnight proper, as we could see and hear. But then the big count-down began, and then the most beautiful fireworks I’ve ever seen in my life began and lasted for about 20 minutes. (My cousin took some pictures with her digital camera, and maybe in the next weeks or so I will be able to show them to you!)

This castle has never been stormed – it was however given over to the napoleonic troops in order to prevent damage to the city.

What a great place to spend New Year’s Eve in!