Hitler: The people’s villain
The German Historical Museum’s latest exhibition deals with the uncomfortable and often unwelcome idea that Hitler could never have amounted to much without the proactive contribution of the German people. Hitler and the Germans: Nation and Crime suggests that the man who ruined a certain type of moustache forever was not some charismatic monster that seduced and subjugated a helpless nation, but a manmade villain, the product of immense popular support. There had been no sign whatsoever as Adolf was a child that he would go on to become the most infamous leader in European history. Besides brilliant rhetorical skills and a slightly skewed perception of humans, he was by no means special – he certainly had no hypnotic superpowers to explain why he had almost a whole population shrieking “Heil!” in unison. Hitler was exactly the antihero Germany needed to bounce back after WWI, as shown by enough glittery fan mail to fill any rock star with envy. And all the Der Spiegel covers he’s made it onto since show how obsessed Germans are, still trying to explain him. The exhibition is bold and challenging in the way it examines the Führer’s rise to the top, dredging up memories the German nation as a whole has spent over 60 years repressing. Although it may be intended for natives, there are still plenty of reasons for non-natives to go. The first two of eight parts – “Führer Myth and Führer Movement” and “Hitler and the Nazi Party” – provide perhaps the most interesting portrait of Hitler so far. Finally, an exhibition on Nazi Germany which rather than focusing on the human tragedy, takes time to investigate the man who was presented as its sole instigator and the German mindset which allowed it happen. Not all eight segments are equally interesting, and a more focused selection would have contributed to clarity, but it adds an interesting and much-needed new angle in examining the one German – albeit immigrant – the world will never forget.
“Hitler and the Germans: Nation and Crime”, through Feb 6, 10-18 at the Deutsches Historisches Museum, Unter den Linden 2, Mitte, S+U-Bhf Friedrichstraße.
Veggie grub for cash-strapped consciences
Chuck out your assumptions on soup kitchens – the lines, moping heads, food slopped on plates by well-meaning people in hairnets. The Homeless Veggie Dinner is anything but. Instead picture a charming, hostel-esque dining room in a Kreuzberg Altbau, where simply arranged tables are adorned with inviting menus (in English!) and comforting floral arrangements to encourage diners of all kinds, travellers and Erasmus students as well as homeless people, to mix and mingle, whether broke or just up for a different dining experience – homey vegetarian/vegan food. The first course is practically waiting for you when you sit down, and the second two arrive after a casually dressed ‘waiter’ takes your order – pumpkin soup to start; a choice of veggie curry with rice or veggie bigosz for the mains; and for dessert, a vegan cheesecake, chocolate brownies or pancakes with hazelnuts. Yum! All for a small, anonymous donation of whatever you can afford thanks to the generous sponsorship of two popular fixtures of the expat scene – the New Orleans Haus provides the ingredients and Café Hilde the drinks (sorry, no booze!). HVD is the brainchild of Goodwill Records owner and couchsurfer Adam and his two friends, Natasa and Toni; the three international border-bouncers wanted to do something ‘worthwhile’. Apart from the grub itself, the trio are working on a project which aims to employ homeless people with cash from the donations. It’s the type of lofty, homegrown philanthropy that could only happen on a college campus – or in the alternative hotbed of Kreuzberg. Don’t be fooled by the name. Only a fifth or so of the diners were actually homeless (perhaps they prefer Bratwurst to veggie couscous) making this a great oh-so-Berlin initiative for multilingual, curious or cash-strapped internationals. A great cheap meal for a good cause.
Homeless Veggie Dinner, typically one Saturday per month, 19:00 at Admiralstr. 17, Kreuzberg, U-Bhf Kottbusser Tor. For more information email [email protected]
Well-suited vintage rocking
Another treat for rock fans opened next to the Ramones Museum just a couple of months ago. Everything a six string-loving heart could possibly desire can be found at Blitz Boutique. Well, as long as it’s rock merchandise of course. Faced with the usual dilemma of not knowing what to spend your salary on? Here’s an idea for true aficionados: a t-shirt from The Clash’s tour following their 1978 release of Give ‘Em Enough Rope. Price: €349. A steal, right? More modestly-priced merchandise is available, from the likes of Bowie and Axl Rose to local heroes like Bonaparte and the Beatsteaks. And if you’re fed up with shopping and just want to hang around listening to your heroes, you can make yourself comfortable in the sofa corner. With a dressed-up mannequin stretching out on the couch beside you, it’s hard not to get the rock star vibe and imagine she’s an admiring groupie just waiting for your next move. There’s even hope for up-and-coming rock stars: bring your own beer to avoid all that unpleasant money-related nonsense. If it’s too early for alcohol (as if), you could try the Berlin-signature ping-pong table. If you want to make some money, bring your worn-out threads to the ever-expanding shop. It might provide a welcome contribution to next month’s studio rent. Whether you’re into machine-gun-tight riffs or an old-fashioned bass drum, this gem provides a well suited (rock n’ roll) contrast to the tourist Mecca on Oranienburger Straße just a few blocks away.
Blitz Boutique: Krausnickstraße 23, Mitte, S-Bhf Oranienburger Straße, Mon-Sat 12-20, www.blitz-boutique.com