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Win a signed Bodi Bill art book and other goodies!

by James Glazebrook

Heads up Bodi Bill fans: we have a signed, limited edition copy of their new “MERK:WHAT” book to give away. Scroll down to see how you can get an intimate look at the guys behind beautiful Berlin music like this:

The “MERK:WHAT” project existed in the minds of Bodi Bill for a long time. Berlin photographer and good friend Rosa Merk joined the band on tour last year, and took a series of intimate pictures of them both on- and backstage. She was there to capture the joy, the tears, the ecstasy… and the rain! The result is a 96-page, limited edition, hot pink book – and we have a signed copy to give away! If your German’s up to it, you can read about the book and the glamorous Berlin launch party on the Disaronno blog.

Bodi Bill on stage

Reading “MERK:WHAT” is so much like actually being there, that we thought you’d need some extra goodies while you’re fantasising that you’re on tour with the band. We’re throwing in a luxurious Traveler’s Notebook to record your memories (“Fabian just winked at me – swoon”), and a suitably sophisticated DVD to watch on the tour bus – (in your head) the guys *will* be impressed!

Bodi Bill grand prize

The complete GRAND PRIZE:

1 x Bodi Bill “MERK:WHAT” book, signed by all three band members and the photographer. Limited edition (32/500).

1 x Midori Traveler’s Notebook, passport size, in handcut leather complete with set of inserts (ruled, grid and plain paper; zipper and cardfile; alphabet stencils; and a limited edition Traveler’s Passport). Worth over €60 in total.

1 x  Billie Ray Martin DVD, “Five Takes (A Song About Andy)” in 8 panel deluxe silver metallic packaging.

Plus Billie Ray Martin DVDs for 2 lucky runners-up

To be in with a chance of winning these sweet prizes, just leave us a comment below. You have until the end of Sunday 9th September, when we’ll pick our winner and two runners-up. Good luck!

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Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp

by Guest Blogger

Natalye Childress takes us on a tour of Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp near Berlin. All words and images her own.

Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Arbeit macht Frei sign

This past week, I paid a visit to Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg, one of the concentration camps from the Third Reich. Located in the Brandenburg town of Oranienburg, it’s a mere 35 kilometers north of Berlin. During the war, it was mostly home to political prisoners, which means that prisoners from all over Europe were brought there.

Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp memorial

One of the many memorials in the wooded area in front of the main gate.

My first experience with concentration camps was my visit to Dachau in June of 2010, which, for the most part, I did not enjoy. Certainly I have always been intrigued by historical events, and it was definitely interesting to see first hand a place that I have read about so many times. However, being in the actual camp was not something I was prepared for. Due to a combination of many things – the heavy visitor traffic, the hot weather, the emotional reality of it all – my reaction was visceral.

sachsenhausen concentration camp neutrale zone

The “neutrale zone.”

This time around, I decided to go because of a desire to increase my understanding, both of this country I have adopted as home and its people, as well as of the greater area in which I live. After all, Berlin is a bit like a pal of mine described it earlier today, a giant playground, but there is much much more to it that I have yet to discover and I feel that it is my obligation, particularly if I want to function in this society. And now that I live here and have been a member of German society for a year, the German mentality is something I am just beginning to understand on a more complex level.

sachsenhausen concentration camp prisoner identifications

A former prisoner’s reconstruction of the different identification each of the prisoners had to wear.

In some ways, it makes sense how a society ordered in this way could give rise to something like the Third Reich, but it’s a complicated and tricky kind of reality. That’s not to say Germans are bad people, but more to make the point that they are organized, efficient, and follow the rules. This makes things run smoothly, most of the time, but I can see how dissent during the early-to-mid 1900s was not something the government responded well to. I am simplifying things here, but these are just some general, surface-level observations I have made.

sachsenhausen concentration camp flowers

Flowers and notes left in jail cells in the solitary confinement block.

I have also seen how Germans wrestle with and confront their feelings about what occurred leading up to and during World War II in general, and about the Holocaust specifically. This takes the form of everything ranging from guilt, to a sense of responsibility and obligation to recognize and remain aware of what happened, to a backlash toward anything being regarded as remotely nationalistic, and more.

sachsenhausen concentration camp statue

A statue bearing the names of all the countries that the various prisoners came from.

My overall impressions of Sachsenhausen were quite different than those of Dachau. Again, the external circumstances played a huge role; it was a beautiful day and there were not many visitors when we arrived (mid-afternoon). This allowed us to take our time and truly absorb the things we were interested in.

sachsenhausen concentration camp Soviet Liberation Memorial

The Soviet Liberation Memorial, in the form of a tower reaching to the sky.

There were many things I learned on my visit that maybe seem like common sense or were never factually apparent to me, but also either had never occurred to me before or I hadn’t known about. The many exhibits here were also pretty thorough and intense. It gives a pretty in-depth look at the lives of the prisoners, which I appreciated. All in all, we spent three full hours exploring the grounds, but that was hardly enough time to cover even half of what was there. This is more like a full-day experience.

sachsenhausen concentration camp execution trench

The execution trench, where thousands of Soviets were killed.

And would I recommend it? Well, yes. One has to be in the proper mindset and have plenty of time to go. It’s free, and although there is the possibility of guided tours for a small price, I prefer having the freedom to pick and choose what I want to see and explore things more than surface level. So how one tailors a visit is up to the individual.

sachsenhausen concentration camp prisoner photographs 2

sachsenhausen concentration camp prisoner photographs 1

Photos of prisoners taken just before they were killed; the photographer smuggled out the negatives to release them to the public.

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Überstyle: Graefestrasse

by Zoë Noble

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Music Montag: Erkin Gören, “Kanal”

by James Glazebrook

Erkin Gören

A pretty little acoustic number recorded at, and inspired by, Berlin’s Landwehrkanal. Scroll down for Istanbul-born Erkin Gören‘s Turkish lyrics and the English translation, and visit his website for art, music and more.

Erkin Gören by the Kanal

Erkin Gören, “Kanal” (Turkish)

kanallarda uzun günüm
güneşle ev sıcak
ve suyla serin
terliklerimi çıkardım
ayağımın altına toprak

lalalala la la lala

kanal, maybach ufer’da
kanal, iki işçi kahvaltıda
kanal, tekerleğin ardında

oksijen verin şu suya
kuğu gibi süzülsün
ama beni almasın
aksın önümden
kalemimden daha derin
kalemimden daha derin

Erkin Gören, “Canal” (English)

my endless day around the canal
home is warm with the sun
and chilled with water
I took my slippers off
ground lies under my feet

lalalala la la lala

canal, in maybachufer
canal, two workers’ breakfast
canal, spreads behind the wheel

give some oxygen to that water
let it float like a swan
without taking me with
let it flow beside me
more profound than my pen
more profound than my pen

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Behind the Scenes at Berlin’s Natural History Museum

by Guest Blogger

Russell Dornan had been waiting for years to visit the Museum für Naturkunde, having spent most of his childhood near Köln, but never making it to the German capital. As soon as he started his traineeship (to become a natural history curator) he set his sights on Berlin’s Natural History Museum, arranging a week of work experience across the institution’s collections. Here’s what he found when he peeked behind the scenes of the Museum für Naturkunde; all images his own.
[CAUTION: we have selected images that reflect the work of the Museum für Naturkunde - preparing (skinning), preserving and displaying animals of all kinds. The squeamish among you may want to look away now.]

A giant squid preserved in alcohol

A giant squid preserved in alcohol.

My first day was spent with a taxidermist, part of a team who dedicate their time to skinning birds and mammals, cleaning their bones and mounting them ready for either exhibition or to be stored as part of the scientific collection. They have won many awards throughout Germany and Europe, and rightly so; I’ve never seen taxidermy like it.

I love red foxes. After skinning, its bones would have been cleaned and dried and then mounted with the skin, or kept in the scientific collection.

I love red foxes. After skinning, its bones would have been cleaned and dried and then mounted with the skin, or kept in the scientific collection.

Some of the team were skinning a red fox as I arrived. It was a little bit startling to pop my head round a door to find one of my favourite animals having its skin removed; it was also fascinating. From there I was led through the purpose-built facilities for taxidermy, equipped for every stage of the process. As a result, the pieces they produce (usually from road kill or deceased animals regularly donated to the museum from one of Berlin’s two zoos) are uncannily life-like. I was then shown the bird wet collection: pickled birds in jars.

This piglet was freshly skinned and being prepared for use in a display.

This piglet was freshly skinned and being prepared for use in a display.

A Sunbittern preserved in alcohol.

A Sunbittern preserved in alcohol.

Next, the collections manager for ornithology showed me around the largest bird collection in Germany (around 200,000 specimens). He told me of a journal they had found with previously unknown information about some important specimens, filling in some missing geographical data, and adding even more scientific value to the birds.

These are some of the scientifically important birds that had to be matched up to the citations in the journal that was found.

These are some of the scientifically important birds that had to be matched up to the citations in the journal that was found.

Due to the number of objects, all museums have a large documentation backlog but Berlin’s was particularly interesting. Because of the damage the museum sustained during the Second World War, many specimens are in a poor condition, often with information missing which has to be reconciled. Even missing specimens are input onto the database because they are a testament to what was destroyed during the war. I think it’s a tragic echo; even something as simultaneously trivial and important as a stuffed bird was unable to escape.

The museum had undergone a substantial rebuild in 2010 and most departments were still in the process of relocating the material. The East wing was completely razed during the war; it was finally rebuilt and now houses the very large spirit collections. Other specimens were removed and, ideally, cleaned/conserved and packed in new storage boxes with new labels, ready for their new location.

My time with the arachnid and myriapod collection team was brilliant. Arachnids tend to be fleshier than insects so lend themselves to being preserved in alcohol rather than pinned. There were still some beautiful examples of pinned spiders, as well as some centipedes and millipedes. In German, these are known as “Tausendfüsser” (literally: “thousand feet”). The reptile skins are kept in the same area; it was like a crocodile’s walk-in wardrobe.

The strange crocodile wardrobe.

The strange crocodile wardrobe.

This was followed by a visit to the fish collection, the only one of four floors of spirit collections, across the departments, that is among the public galleries. While manageable, this isn’t practical; it forces the team to adopt unorthodox methods and to organise themselves in a slightly different way than if the collection was behind closed doors.

The bright yellow web is like thread: it's soft, super-strong and vivid. Some people have extracted it and woven it into things like shawls.

The bright yellow web is like thread: it’s soft, super-strong and vivid. Some people have extracted it and woven it into things like shawls.

The mammal section was one of my favourites. When a mammal comes into the museum it gets preserved as a combination of: a skull, a skeleton, a skin or a whole animal. They are usually all kept separate. Sometimes only the skin or skull are kept; sometimes all of it, in which case the individual parts are stored in the relevant areas.

A drawer of fox skulls. They are kept in the little boxes so they don't rattle around and get damaged, and so that if anything breaks off, theoretically the pieces fall into the box and stay with the main body of the object.

A drawer of fox skulls. They are kept in the little boxes so they don’t rattle around and get damaged, and so that if anything breaks off, theoretically the pieces fall into the box and stay with the main body of the object.

Some of the biggest skulls in the collection are the hippo skulls. There are a lot of them too.

Some of the biggest skulls in the collection are the hippo skulls. There are a lot of them too.

After we had looked at the skulls we saw the skin collection. Like the crocodile wardrobe, seeing so many hides of the same type of animal hanging together was surreal. Loads of skins, and other specimens, are needed to make sure that the variation seen in nature is represented in the collection. For example, there are a lot of monkeys.

The only way to really store skins from larger animals is to hang them up. Folding them won't work because most skins get harder as time goes by and then snap and break when anyone tries to lay them flat. Stacking them on top of each other isn't very logical either. Of course, hanging them isn't without its problems. They are heavy and the string deteriorates and snaps, meaning there are loads lying in heaps. It’s always a compromise.

The only way to really store skins from larger animals is to hang them up. Folding them won’t work because most skins get harder as time goes by and then snap and break when anyone tries to lay them flat. Stacking them on top of each other isn’t very logical either. Of course, hanging them isn’t without its problems. They are heavy and the string deteriorates and snaps, meaning there are loads lying in heaps. It’s always a compromise.

Unlike dog skins, like the hyena seen here, cat skins don't go as hard as others. They remain, for the large part, soft and supple.

Unlike dog skins, like the hyena seen here, cat skins don’t go as hard as others. They remain, for the large part, soft and supple.

One of the previous curators had a soft spot for primates and Berlin has a very good collection as result. The eerie, human-like quality of the monkeys is a little bit haunting when they’re pickled.

One of the previous curators had a soft spot for primates and Berlin has a very good collection as result. The eerie, human-like quality of the monkeys is a little bit haunting when they’re pickled.

I loved visiting the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin; seeing what they have behind closed doors was fascinating and exciting. You can read more about my time there in my daily blog posts during my visit, and see photos of the public collections on überlin – close-ups of butterflies and beetles, and the weird and wonderful wet collection.

Heavier objects are stored in the basement. You have to be careful walking through that.

Heavier objects are stored in the basement. You have to be careful walking through that.

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Leipzig

by James Glazebrook

Leipzig 2

We try to get out of Berlin and experience the “real Germany”, and what happens? We both get sick. But we enjoyed an afternoon in Leipzig in Saxony before the stomach bug hit, in particular the beautiful pastel interior of St. Nicholas Church, an important centre of peaceful protest in the lead up the fall of the Berlin Wall. My parents had good things to say about the Bach Museum and Leipzig Zoo, and those in the know talk about the local creative scene as rivalling Berlin’s, so we might well pack up the Pepto-Bismol and make a return visit!

Leipzig 3

Leipzig 4

Leipzig 5

Leipzig 6

Leipzig 7

Leipzig 8

Leipzig 9

Leipzig 10

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Überstyle: Schönleinstrasse

by Zoë Noble

Überstyle: Schönleinstrasse 1

Überstyle: Schönleinstrasse 2

Überstyle: Schönleinstrasse 3

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The Week in Berlin, August 22nd – 26th

by James Glazebrook


The Week in Berlin, August 22-August 26

This week: get geeky, get (urban) arty and get naked! (or maybe just swap some clothes.)

Storified by überlin · Tue, Aug 21 2012 04:46:23

Wednesday 22nd August

Campus Party Europe @ Tempelhof (through to Sunday)
The Campus Party geektacular runs until Sunday, with more inspiring content than you can shake a USB stick at. Here’s what we’re most looking forward to, and below that, the full agenda. NERD! 
Keynote speakers include “inventor of the Internet” Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Mr Macrowikinomics, Don Tapscott:  
Campus Party Europe in Berlin 2012 – #CPEurope – O2 Keynote SpeakersOne of the things that makes Campus Party stand out is the sheer amount of activities happening simultaneously. But once a day, the actio…
MUSIC! SoundCloud host an Audio Hack Day:
Campus Party Europe in Berlin 2012 – #CPEurope – MusicSoundCloud is excited to be joining Campus Party Europe on August 23rd for a special Audio Hack Day hackathon. Audio Hack Day is a 24 hou…
The Social Media Stage features a panel discussion from Berlin Geekettes and Dr. Daniel Schultheiss talking about music marketing in social networks: 
Campus Party Europe in Berlin 2012 – #CPEurope – Social MediaCaroline Drucker is the Country Manager for Etsy Germany. Prior to Etsy she worked as Product Manager and Partner Marketing Manager for S…
The General Agenda in full: 
Campus Party Europe in Berlin 2012 – #CPEurope – General AgendaIf you need detailed information about talks, workshops and other activities, please go to the stages they are located at. This Agenda ju…

Thursday 23rd August

The Solution Is Irrelevant @ EPICENTRO ARTSPACE
Robot Koch from Jahcoozi and other local arty/muso types join forces for “a multimedia, interdisciplinary laboratory, where performance and video art, design, music, spoken word, sound treatment, sculpture, painting, and installations will interact simultaneously without a screenplay or a preset agenda.” Oooo…. 

The Solution Is Irrelevant (Teaser)44flavours

Friday 24th August

Book and Beer release party @ The Cheese Mountain Tragedy
The Cheese Mountain Tragedy, our Kiez’s centre for all things comicky, is celebrating the release of “Dirks Big Bunny Book” (the first collection of Dirk Verschure’s daily cartoon) and Caffeinated Stout, the product of a torrid love affair between the gents of Vagbund Brauerei and cartoonist Josh Bauman. Food, cheap drinks, caffeine and comics. Bottoms up!
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Book and Beer release Party | FacebookSign Up Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.
SKYY SWAP SHOP @ Café Moskau 
Clothes swapping with a difference! Cocktails, celebrities (Daniel Brühl and Jade Jagger were among last year’s attendees) and DJs including Bodi Bill, in a former DDR prestige project.
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SKYY VODKA SWAP MARKET " Designer Scoutsin collaboration with DESIGNER SCOUTS Freitag, 24. August 2012 Swapping 21 Uhr,Party 23 Uhr DJs: Bodi Bill, Frida Gold, Noema Café Moskau…
Artbase 2012 (through to Sunday)
Venue TBC for Berlin’s annual Urban Art Festival – unfortunately the abandoned Cold War listening station at Teufelsberg proved unsuitable for some reason. Sign up to the email newsletter for more details.
artbase2012 – A Grand Day Outartbase 2012 – Das Urban-Art Festival – BERLIN | 24. – 26. August Leider kann die artbase 2012 nicht auf dem Teufelsberg stattfinden. Mel…
Artbase 2012 – Berlin’s Urban Art Festival * Urban Art CoreArtbase is back – The urban art festival, which took place in the abandoned sanitarium Grabowsee near Berlin in 2011, is now heading to t…
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Music Montag: Alec Empire VS Elvis Presley

by James Glazebrook

Alec Empire VS Elvis Presley

Last thursday was the anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death, and this will have him turning in his grave. It may be nearly 15 years old, but Alec Empire is one of my heroes and Elvis is, well, Elvis. What one might assume would be Empire’s most commercial work is actually one of his most noisy and uncompromising. If you want to find out what kind of twisted fuck produces a track like “Jailhouse Cock Rocks the Most”, you can read my interview with Alec Empire (spoiler alert! He’s actually very nice).

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ULA Berlin

by James Glazebrook

ULA Berlin dining room

Whatever your misgivings about the gentrification of Berlin, one obvious upside is that upscale restaurants are fast opening in the city. One of the most recent is ULA Berlin, a modern Japanese restaurant and bar with an intriguing menu and an enviable sake selection.

ULA Berlin sign

Once we had been welcomed inside the handsomest dinner spot we’ve been to in Berlin, we admired the warmly-lit dark wood interior while supping on distinctive, Eastern-influenced cocktails. Zoë enjoyed a smooth Asian Tonic (vodka, ginger ale, tonic, St. Germain, lemongrass stirrer), but the highlight was my Basil Smasch – gin with lemongrass, sugar syrup and basil. The Kubota sake we were then served was refreshing and sweet, whetting our appetites nicely.

ULA Berlin bar

ULA Berlin place chopsticks

Struggling to choose from all the delicious-sounding dishes, I made my life easier by opting for one of ULA’s set menus. You can see my centrepiece course, the Sukiyaki (Kanto style) – a hot pot of beef sirloin – sizzling away in the background of the photo below, behind Zoë’s grilled Iberian pork chop with soy sauce and butter.

ULA Berlin grilled Iberian pork chop

For our other many, many courses, we chose equally well. ULA’s Three Signature Appetizers were particularly delightful: Sashimi shrimp and vegetables in Ponzu (citrus jelly), vegetable roll with tuna confit and sesame sauce, and chicken roll with budock root, served with grilled spring onion.

ULA Berlin Three Signature Appetizers

ULA Berlin tuna

ULA Berlin sushi

As well as this creative cooking, ULA offers that rare thing in Berlin: a decent dessert menu. We limited ourselves to sharing a flourless foundant au chocolat, with sesame and coconut crème glacée, which was rich and sumptuous, just like our surroundings. For refined dining and upscale Asian cuisine, both hard to find in this city, we thoroughly recommend ULA Berlin.

ULA Berlin dessert

ULA Berlin place settings

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