Today was a hot Berlin August day, and my friend Mary and I had a date to go get ice cream. Hooray, right? (One of the things made oh-so-easy since Mary moved into our neighborhood, yippee!) We were headed to Berlin Homemade Ice Cream in Schöneberg, where they have truly delicious ice cream (sorbet for me) as well as a sense of humor - their web address is the German for "lick me," and when you say "lick me" in German it is slightly obscene, the equivalent of "bite me" in good 'ol American English. Anyway, as we approached the ice cream shop, the normally quiet street was parked in with big vans, and we realized they must be filming something -- something I see fairly regularly on my street in Berlin. So we got our ice cream, and since the street felt very claustophobic with all the production vans, we walked into the neighboring park (Kleistpark). As we rounded the corner, Mary gasped: at the front of an old courthouse building facing the park they were flying four or five giant red Nazi flags with swastikas on them. It was shocking, and also totally surreal. This is something you do NOT see in Germany. Public display of Nazi flags is completely illegal except for historical purposes, so it was clear that this was for whatever they were filming, but still. It made us a bit uneasy.
We had started our little neighborhood walk discussing the fairly heavy topic of the recent Burkini ban in France, the images of a French police officer requiring a Burkini-clad woman to take off some of her clothes at a beach in Nice, and the general permanent historical state of women being told what to wear (bikinis were once considered indecent, after all). To be confronted with another symbol of oppression directly afterwards made it feel all the more weighty. I wanted to take a photo but was then yelled at by a guard: "verboten!" To me this just added to the perverseness - I understand why they don't want people taking pictures (it's forbidden imageryl) - but having a man yell at me for taking a picture in a public place just felt like more oppression by the patriarchy. Yes, I'm being dramatic. But if I were the film crew/city, I would've closed off the whole park for the duration of the filming, it seems simpler and more effective than hiring camera police. I actually did sneak a photo from a distance but I will use my good judgement and not post it -- you will just have to trust me on this one.
And now I feel the need to end on a cheery note. Getting ice cream with friends is fun! I will go back and take pictures on a non-Nazi day and update the post so that Berlin looks friendly and beautiful.