Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin


Do you have a car? Is it comfortably sized? Does it catch the eye of the the passers-by and send subliminal messages to the effect of: “Yes, we have been to Sylt and we might or might not have a bank account in Lichtenstein and a 10-room hut in Bavaria…”? Are you and your car planning to spend a night in Berlin with you NOT keeping guard next to it with a fire-hose and a water cannon? Then before you leave your S-Class rear-drive saloon of a pet – The Pope of All Automobiles, Jeremy Clarkson of “Top Gear” pronounced it to be “the true world domination machine” and the car “Dr Evil uses one when being driven between underground lairs” – alone in the streets of the capital, make sure the vehicle is covered with something rather noncombustible, like asbestos cement (if you´re a fan of the 1970s public architecture) or Kevlar wrapping (if you are into Christo). Otherwise you might have to contact your car insurer a bit sooner than planned.

Luckily for us, however, most of the residents of Berlin-Kreuzberg possess a vehicle of a slightly lower class: like my personal favourite, the ancient Citroen 2CV, known also as Sauss Ente (Speedy Duck), with a sticker announcing proudly “From 0 to 100 in only 59.45 seconds”. Most of the cars in the borough do not make a gentle, plumy “whooosh!” when driving past. Neither do they radiate such immense self-confidence that no dog would ever dare lift its non-pedigree leg in their presence (actually, I dare say it is the dogs of Kreuzberg that are unsurpassed in the self-confidence category…) The chances of having your car set on fire here seem comfortably slim then. Or do they really? Ever heard of accidental victims? If your M-Benz or Dacia go up in flames what does it matter if they were the main target of the attack or ended up as collateral damage? As it is, no car is safe in Kreuzberg or anywhere else in Berlin these days. The local police force are doing all in their powers to prevent the night arsonists from wasting perfectly good charcoal lighters and turning automobiles to soot. They chase, they lurk, they search and they ask people to call 112 whenever anyone seems to be tampering with grilling equipment past 9 pm. Sadly to no avail. Even the glorious yet fleeting moments of success, like the one on Monday when one good citizen of Prenzlauerberg called the number in time for the police to arrive and catch two “late barbecuers”(male and female) red-handed, do not solve the problem.

That´s probably why somebody decided it was time for more radical steps. If the “Broken Windows” or Zero Tolerance Approach worked for New York, why shouldn´t it for Berlin? Get help from the experts, I say. And it seems that somebody had the same thought: ladies and gentlemen, the cavalery has arrived. And it´s parked in Blücherstrasse.

Someone please call 911

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