Learning for  Life – non scolae sed vitae discimus

„My son is so unhappy with his school „, a mother complains. „He’s in thr eighth grade and it’s so boring he says.“

Kreuzberg is changing, and so is school life. The trouble starts after the elementary school,  in the seventh grade.
Parents have to choose whether to send their kids to the high profile Gymnasium or a normal Secondary school. 

„My son is smart“, she continues. „But at the Gymnasium the demands are extremely high. I know he wouldn’t stand this stress. We heard about the school he visits now and everybody was like Oh it has such a good reputation and you  can get the highest graduation there as well and stuff. Bullshit. Either you make it to a Gymnasium or you’re doomed!“

The seventh up to the tenth grade the kids are together in one class,  irrespective of their performance level. The tasks they’re working at differ,  but it’s noisy and no one can concentrate. In order to get at the same level as the Gymnasium kids, those are who run for the Abitur have to learn it all in the eleventh, twelfth and  thirteenth grade. 

„So they get used to an easy life first and then they cannot cope with the high level“, she says. „It’s not about intelligence. You manage to put your kids into rhe first line in elementary school or they are out of the race. „


Sonne, Mond und Sterne – der vierte Tag mit Trump


Strumpf-Tagebuch. Tag 4.


„Vier Tage Strumpf und ich halte es nicht mehr aus…“, sagt der Kollege im Büro, und streicht sich besänftigend über den Bauch. Jedem, den ich kenne, liegt der frisch gekürte US-Präsident schwer im Magen. „It's something visceral“, sagt man in den USA, wenn einem etwas „unter die Haut“ geht.

Dass ich mit sowas Banalem anfange, ist bereits ein Hinweis: Es ist nichts Außerordentliches passiert. Das Interessanteste ist das, was er mit uns macht.

Ich komme mir vor wie ein Kaninchen, das ängstlich nach der Schlange schaut. Angst schafft Aufmerksamkeit., man sammelt Informationen. Gespanntes Scannen der Nachrichten überall, in jeder Zeitung, im Netz, im Radio: Die ersten politischen Aktionen. Noch lebe ich in der Hoffnung, dass er grandios scheitert, nur eine Episode in der langen US – Geschichte ist. Dass sich „der lange Bogen, den die Geschichte nimmt, doch am Ende zum Guten neigt“, wie es Obama sinngemäß beschrieben hat.


Also nun die Nachrichten, ich seufze erleichtert: Er macht Fehler, nimmt von den Kleinen. Betrügt seine Wähler. Die werden das merken! Ein neuer Begriff: „Alternative Fakten“ : Der Lüge bezichtigt, entschuldigt sich damit ein Trump-Mitarbeiter. Ein schlimmer Begriff, der genau genommen an den Grundsätzen der Zivilisation rüttelt: Der Vereinbarung einer gemeinsamen Realität, der Existenz nachweisbarer Fakten, der Voraussetzung jedes Rechtsstaates.

Das ganze nimmt Dimensionen an, die einen- ja: etwas an die Hitlerzeit erinnern. Nur : diesmal sind es die Anderen. Und wir können das Häuflein aufrechter Demokraten spielen, das sich dem Diktator in den Weg stellt – und so unsere eigene Geschichte umschreiben, das menschliche Versagen unserer Großväter und Uorgroßväter in den 30er Jahren wieder gut machen! Eine gewisse Fiebrigkeit mischt sich in meine Angst. Und was genau können wir tun?

Wir haben Bundestagswahl, und alle befürchten einen Erdrutschsieg der Rechten. Um ihnen das Wasser abzugraben, läuft eine bundesweite „konzertierte Aktion“: Das Land soll – darf man sagen: wohnlicher? – werden? Ein besseres soziales Klima schaffen. Den unzufrieden „Protestwählern“, dem zu erwartenden Haupt-Klientel der rechten Parteien, das Protest wählen abgewöhnen. Sogar die linke Taz macht mit. Da können wir mitmachen! Das riecht ein wenig nach „Sozialer“ Friedensbewegung, da werden Bilder aus der Jugendzeit wach – no, schlecht?

Ganz neue Perspektiven sind das. Und es ist erst der vierte Tag…



Early winter poetry

it's seven fifteen on a weekday in late november. I'm on my daily ride to my office in the central district Mitte. The atmosphere has changed. The autumn eventually has gone, has taken all bright colours with him. The city looks grey and washed out, especially now at sunrise. that's what you call the winter season.

The Friedrichstraße is almost empty. The only signs of life are flashing red lights, it comes to my mind. They are changing their colors just for fun as long as the cars are absent.

But then all of a sudden a voice comes from the right hand side:

„Are you daydreaming or what?“

I already had passed the speaker, so I had to turn my head, which took a while because of the huge shawl around my neck, and for Christ's sake I automatically pulled the brakes – else I would have crashed into one of the parking cars, that's for sure! Because what I saw when I turned my head made my blood freeze:

i was just passing a huge department store with large shopping windows. And in one window was a hole and through that hole, about 20 cm in diameter, peeped out the head of a – polar bear, who had talked to me!

I slways used to laugh when people in movies nearly fainted when they saw a ghost. I take it back, every single laughter and apologize for my behavior: For I moment a part of me seriously considered fainting as an appropriate way to deal with this situation, but in the end did not. At least I stopped, and I'm not lying to you when I confess that my knees were shaking! And they kept on doing so until the polar bear spoke again:

„Leave the display dummy on the sidewalk and hand me another best, will ye?“

I looked around wondering what he was talking about, and the I discovered the two guys loading decoration items from a truck. the bear wasn't alive and he couldn't talk either. I was the latter fact that made me sigh and feel relieved – for s moment, I had figured out that I might end up in a mental hospital this day.

It must have been no more than two or three minutes that I intercepted my ride, but when I rstarted, I realized that the number of cars had risen extremely. Even the traffic lights seemed to flash more seriously now and i already was very close to my office. Night was definitely over, and so was the time for bad dreams as well as for play. A normal weekday in Berlin, boring and sober. At least it's better for my blood pressure.

The fog was unusually thick on that particular morning short before dawn. Sometimes the humidity is so high that you literally can smell and even hear it. Although in the center of a city you couldn't see houses or people or anything, except for that long wall, crowned by a long row of varying neo gothic Zinnen and roof tops with blackened crosses, pointing to the dark grey sky. Birches were leaning across the wall like tired, tired of following the rule of changing the season. They were full of leaves. They would shimmer in a warm orange tone during daytime, but it was still night at this abandoned place, which turned out to be – you sure guessed it it – a cemetry.

In fact I knew it quite well and had visited the graves once or twice – at daytime. Now at night I never ever would set a foot into it, not even at gunpoint. If that huge door right iin the middle which I am approaching now would open up that would make me faint!, I thought as I was passing it and you knoww what? It did. Just as I was about to pass it, it started to creek and squeek

As usual I'm a little tired and close to a dream. All of a sudden it“s like shivers down my spine, as I pass the entrance of a department store: I've just seen a polar bear looking out a shop window and talk to me!

„Are you daydreaming or what?“

Being an experienced cyclist I manage not to crash, but I need to stop for a moment, until my heartbeat will return to normal. I'm afraid to look back… Yes, there is apolar bear, looking out of the window! A group of unashamed naked display dummies. And now I notice the truck and the two guys unnloading the new decorstion for the shop window.

„Hand me another beast, will ye?“

A huge truck in front of the noble department stores with flashin yellow lights catches my eye. One of the glass fronts is open and – an ice bear is looking out, his head above the sidewalk. Two guys are carrying something.

“Hand me one of those beasts, will ye?”

“Hey are you daydreaming?”

A young girl at the hand of her father, the father is in a hurry, the girl isn’t. Maybe they’re late for school.

“Look”, the girl says and points to the sky. The morning sun has painted the clouds in incredible colours.

Now even the busy father stops. “And on Sunday, we’re gonna light the first candle, right?”

Dr. Uwe Zimmer
Psychologe Abteilung Neurologie

ZAR Zentrum für ambulante
Rehabilitation Neurologie GmbH in Berlin
Gartenstraße 5
10115 Berlin-Mitte

Tel. (030) 28 51 84 – 180
Fax (030) 28 51 84 – 350


Registergericht: Amtsgericht Berlin-Charlottenburg HRB 101546 B
Geschäftsführer: Ursula Mootz, Dietrich Pertschy
Ein Unternehmen der Helmut Nanz-Stiftung


Going round on Oranienplatz



The Oranienplatz in Kreuzberg is famous for the annual mayday clashes with police, but it's a busy place throughout the year. Yellow double store busses meet there for a chat at the huge bus stop in the center, and an endless line of cars crawls through the small surrounding streets in the search for parking space. At the northeast corner there's the entrance to a supermarket, once set on fire on mayday and never rebuild. If you follow this road and just before you reach the café „Kuchen Kaiser“ – the purveyor to the imperial court in 1900 – you stumble right into a small crowd of young people, presumably Turks, waiting on a sidewalk.

It's the entrance to a driving school mainly used by young Turks. Because of their higher level of unemployment, Turkish classes for traffic theory are held during daytime. On the full hour, a red Volkswagen stops in front of the entrance door. A hairdresser with blond moustache and short cut afro get's out, opens the door and helps the driver out, mostly a young Turkish lady. He's a driving teacher and the girl is his learner. Unfortunately he doesn't speak any Turkish. He uses gestures that mark either a compliment or helplessness and desperation, and he mainly uses his remarkable eyebrows for it. Young guys he gives a high five, or, if they failed too much, he's raising his hand as if he wants to slap their face, but yes: He's kidding.

There's a box of Cigarettes waiting in his pocket, a lighter in the other. Oh what a relief. He watches the tree tops, the birds flying, the growling busses passing by and then – he sees his next learner. All of a sudden his cigarette tastes like shit. He drops it, puts the foot on it and takes a deep sigh. One minute later he's sitting at the copilot's seat again, door window down, and drumming with his finger tips against the door from the outside. He has to! He would explode otherwise! The young man has moved the drivers seat to the front and chokes the enginge for – how many times now? In the first years in his job, he used to mock about mistakes of learners when he met colleagues in a pub. Now it's just nerve wrecking. But look: The enginge is running, and the teacher stops drumming, but keeps his fingers in drumming position and yeees, he was right, the boy choked it again. The drumming started again at a higher tempo. Ten minutes later the car has moved forward with moves like a drunken camel, ad finally got out of sight.

Other cars appear, Turkish fathers bring new learners. Among them immaculate Turkish girls, wrapped in white cloth, walking upright like pencils. Dad gives commands, points with his finger. The daughters smile like white doves ascending into the blue sky on an innocent sunday morning. But as soon as he gets out of sight, they change their facial expressions completely. The girls pour a cigarette out of her baby handbag, and there is always an offensive made up Turkish girl with high heels to give her light. A short smile, at the end we're all sisters, aren't we?

The teachers wife runs the office. You can tell from her face that she has seen it all. The first thing she does when a young Turk signs in for education, is noting his daddy's pohne number. It always works! These boys would dance on tables if she'd let them! New learners stand in line and while they're waiting, the guys check the girls. They're not used to it, they overdo it, and the girls roll their eyes and try to ignore them.

„Turkish language class?“, the driver school lady asks.

All boys say: „Of course!“

Then she asks the girls.

„German“, they say, and the boys start calling them names. It's the best way to get rid of the chatting of the boys!

When the girls leave the school, their daddies are already waiting in their cars with serious faces. The daughters have switched into harmless white flowers again, but the Daddies check if everything is in the right place and send angry smiles to the boys. And their is the teacher's car again, standing in line a few meters before the entrance door. He gives the learner a signal not to use the horn – he cannot do much wrong standing in line because… – „No!“, the teacher shouts, and hits the roof top through the open window: He choked the engine out of nothing! The teacher's mood is down at the bottom and he seriously is considering suicide as a way to get out of this situation.

„You mind if I smoke?“, he asks in despair.

„No…“, the learner says.

„Are you sure?“

„Absoluteley!“, the learner says.

Now their's a smile on the teachers face – a small one, like one single beam of sunlight on a rainy day. And now the lesson's over. The teacher says „Good bye“ – and another turn of the wheel begins. It's like a merry go round without anybody being really merry, like all things in the world – the world itself, too – go round because it is comfortable to move in circles, saves effort and the outcome is predictable. Breaking out is for heroes in Hollywood movies, not for you, not for me, not for the driving teacher in Kreuzberg, who will repeat his going round hour after hour until he get's out of the car and says the magic word: „Feierabend!“ Others will repeat and take their coat and head home. Their's no direct translation into English, and I cannot deliver a circumscription niw for exactly the same reason: „Feierabend!“ See you next time.




Gli Tedeschi

“Una White Coffee, un Muesli e una water from the mains for table sette…!”, the Italian waitress shouts. The bartenderess starts scribbling and hands the note over to the cook, who jumps and runs into the kitchen of the brand new café.


Somebody has rented a worn out traditional Kreuzbergian Pub, sweptp the floor – there are absolutely no signs of renovation – furnished it with childrens tables and stools from an elementary school, put in a used giant espresso machine and named it “Italian Café” – and the Kreuzbergians stand in line to get in!

The speed and endurance the two Italian women – middle aged but lean and quick – are waiting the tables remind of hamsters in a running wheel. They seem to be a little drunk from their economic success: So many years they had bareley enough to pay the rent, and now they really make money! They know it’s not true, but it feels like the faster they rush, the earlier they can return home!


It’s saturday morning and merely well educated male Berliners have conquered the tiny chairs of the Café. With a sophisticated smile they unfold newspapers the size of table clothes, only to refold them again later. True representants of a nation considering itself as the busiest in the world they spend their saturday morning sitting on extreme inconveniant chairs and reading newspapers, they take no notice of the others around them working.

They never say a word. Once in a while they would wet their lips with White Coffee, that already has turned cold since they finished page 3. They will not order a second one, they will not kick over the traces. Saves money anyway. Frugality and righteousness as a virtue. Cool as a cucumber they came, cool as a cucumber they will go.


Totally opposite to the two Italian waitresses, who once in a while stop for seconds to catch some breath and move away a strand of hair from their forehead. They shake their heads in disbelieve: Gli tedesci! These Germans!

“Muesli for table seven, scrambled eggs for table twelve, avanti avanti! Move!!”, the cook shouts from the kitchen, and the two waitresses take a deep breath. Three more years, and they’ll have enough money. Three more years and they’ll fuck off Berlin and return to Bologna. And with a jump they return back into the running wheel.



German Blog

It’s one thing to speak English good enough to travel around the world or understand a short text, but yet another to read an article or a short story with joy. I’ve been asked frequently why I blog in English. If I wrote in German, they sure would read it. So I’ve finally done some translating, and here comes now, my Blog in German : http://www.icksberg61.wordpress.com

And while I’m at it, I started yet another one which I consider as a pinboard for sketches and paintings etc.


Hope you like it!


First signs of autumn

image.Annenwalde, Brandenburg.

The summer packs his bags and leaves, the autumn is ahead. No time for tears, at least not yet. The early autumn is – to my opinion – the most colorful and voluptuous moment of the year. There is a magical moment, when the first leaves start to fall and you don’t see naked twigs yet. For several days or weeks, nature seems to grow and spread – the leaves are just everywhere!