Grardus Boon/Amsterdam


A busy week in August. I tried to talk to as many people as possible in public places. So I went to Bat-Yam-Platz, a rather empty space. A (closed) shop bears the name “Fruchtparadies” with an unreadable “F” which has suffered adhesive tape during repairs. A bakery with a side-walk café serves cakes, coffee and soft drinks. I met many friendly grey-haired people there like the gentleman who shared his memories of Stalingrad and the Siberian camps with me.
On the other side of the square are a few benches crowded with “Penner”: white Germans – mostly male – drinking beer. A few of them wanted to talk with me, most did not, but I sat there and listened to their conversations. They made not-so-funny jokes about Jews, in spite of the fact that the name Bat-Yam refers to a suburb of Tel Aviv, a city-partner of Neukölln.

Saturday the square became full and lively. Ah, flea-market! Beautiful things, low prices too. I bought old postcards, one stating “Heil Hitler” on it, records (Rocco Granata, Freddy, Nat King Cole) and small Art Deco-objects.
I found a travelogue written in 1950 by Carl Maria Kaufman entitled “Allah ist grosz” and bargained the price down to one Euro. Surprisingly the trader, a man from Aleppo (Syria), did not know the book was part of his merchandise.
Sunday I made friends with two 13 year old blond boys selling secondhand items at the exit of the subway-station Lipschitzallee. One of them turned out to be a Russian, he moved to Berlin a few years ago. I asked him whether prejudices against immigrants bothered him. “No”, he said, “I have nothing against foreigners.”