‘Potse’ Parlour

‘Potse’ Parlour

 

The Joseph-Roth-Diele is always perfect for a weekday lunch or dinner. With its stone-tiled floor, dark wood panelling and old-fashioned furniture you would think this café bar was a pre-war Berlin haunt. But this is new nostalgia. It only opened in 2002 and is dedicated to the Jewish-Austrian journalist and author Joseph Roth, who lived in the building next door in the ‘Golden’ 1920s.There are shelves stacked with his books and the walls are decorated with photographs of Roth and quotes from his writings. Red and brown tones recreate the warmth and cosiness of a Viennese coffee-house, slowing life down to a literary pace. The word ‘Diele’ means parlour, a homely place to be among friends, have something good to eat and drink and pass the time agreeably. A perfect description. (more…)

Berlin – City of Memories

Berlin – City of Memories


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There has been an upsurge of sympathetic interest in Germany in the British media over the past few months. Cynics might put this down to Germany’s high profile in the World Cup but it could also be a generational shift. As the two World Wars recede further into the past there is a greater willingness to view German history and culture in a more objective way. In the current series on Radio 4 ‘Germany – Memories of a Nation’, Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, acknowledges the profound influence Germany has had across Europe over the past six centuries. He tells its “patchwork history” by selecting various buildings and objects and the first ten episodes have been gripping. There are another 20 episodes to go and each lasts just over 14 minutes. They are broadcast twice daily from Monday to Friday and also available as podcasts. I am hooked – and have already booked tickets for the exhibition which opens at the British Museum next week. (more…)

A book for Berlinophiles

A book for Berlinophiles

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Berlin is now a city where everything seems possible and yet its past is barely credible. ‘Imagine a City’ by Rory Maclean is a biography of Berlin told through the lives of 23 Berliners. It is a combination of fact and fiction, a roller-coaster ride that captures all the horror, the resilience and the fascination of Berlin. The title of the book refers to the words used by Hitler’s architect Albert Speer to describe his vision of ‘Germania’, the future capital of the Third Reich. ‘Imagine a city. Imagine a capital greater than Paris and Rome, a metropolis that will eclipse Babylon and Karnak’. Speer’s plans were never realised but Berlin continues to capture the imagination. It is a city continually trying out new ideas, a city with terrible skeletons in its cupboard and a reputation for opportunity and for unadulterated pleasure. (more…)