In the years zero, I used to visit Berlin. Each time I did not go too far from my sleeping place. This is how I never got to Tiergarten. Now I am every day there, a short walk from the residency. This gardened wilderness was retraced in “Berlin Childhood around 1900” by exiled Walter Benjamin. It is his compilation of recollections that intimately remap pre-nazi Berlin. In here, Tiergarten is inaugurated as a testing ground for the surrealist way of getting lost in the city. Similar unplanned strolling through the urban landscape is later practiced as the art of ‘dérive’ in the streets of post-war Paris.
The way into this labyrinth, which was not without its Ariadne, led over the Bendler Bridge, whose gentle arch became my first hillside… Benjamin’s recollections still walk around some of the royal personalities of Tiergarten. These are the faces and snouts one revisit when in the park. In translation ‘animal garden’, Tiergarten was a part of the vast hunting grounds, the exclusive property of the family Hohenzollern. It is the dynasty that has made Prussia significant and robust, the cornerstone of future Germany.
One of the first Hohenzollerns to take care of his peoples’ welfare was Frederick the Great. For instance, he has introduced potatoes to help feed his domains. The healthy new subjects were needed to be born, to defend and enlarge the nation to come. The Great was an educated man, an admirer of art, philosophy, music, and French culture in general. In contrast, the activities that relaxed his father were exercises of manhood, such as maneuvers of his collected ‘giants’, beer-drinking sessions, and hunting. After his father’s death, it was Frederick’s great pleasure to redesign Tiergarten as the large public park. Still today, this is the biggest oasis in the city – there are both joggers and slow walkers, and others in need of a green tranquillity shot.
In Tiergarten, among hopping wild bunnies, occasionally, one might land in the lap of the family Hohenzollern. Perhaps not the most comfortable place. Frederick had a traumatizing relation with his royal father, indeed. It culminated early by the execution of Frederic’s lover, the officer with whom he attempted an escape to England. A few steps from bombed and burned Tiergarten, two-three centuries later, another supremely maniacal father got stuck in a rabbit hole. He was plotting the details of suicide. The authority gazing from the concrete wall of his tiny underground office was the portrait of Frederick the Great.
In the introduction map, the eastern point of the ‘German triangle’ will be marked as 1a. While looking for traces of mom’s lost father, I have landed here at sensitive hereditary grounds. Or, I am parked at the same unresolved issue pulsating underneath one’s feet at each of the three points: in Berlin, in Balkans, and in The Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Here (was) an attempt to condense the content of a present-day fairytale:
(…) among hopping bunnies again.