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Katha Pollitt
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Saturday, October 3, was Reunification Day, the anniversary of the formal reuniting of East and West Germany in l990. Here in Berlin, where I am currently living, the big event was a weekend-long outdoor spectacle involving Die Riesen, giant marionettes created by the French street theatre company Royale de Luxe. Some two million people turned out to watch a huge little-girl giant and an even more enormous grown-up-man giant dressed as a deep-sea diver wandering in search of each other in various neighborhoods. It was meant as a 'Maerchen" or fairy-tale, although no one seemed to know the story of the little girl and the deep-sea diver (who sometimes wore a yellow fisherman's slicker and rain hat). Something about separation and reunion, anyway. Since it was a beautiful warm blue-sky day (one of the few! it rains a lot here) my husband and I set out to find them. We walked and walked through the Tiergarten and stood in a huge crowd on Unter den Linden next to two rather cranky dads who pooh-poohed the whole extravaganza as overly expensive (a running theme here -- Berlin is a poor city, by German standards) but were clearly enjoying themselves. The promised giants didn't appear and eventually we had to leave. (Two bits of local anthropology you'd never see in New York: at the street fair stretching along Unter den Linden you could buy many kinds of alcoholic beverages, including schnapps, and just stand about pleasantly drinking; the great lawn in the Tiergarten, along which the crowds walked, was littered with the bicycles people had used to get there. Unlocked bicycles.) My German teacher, Ursula, whom we ran into later, said the problem was that the little girl giant was kaputt. Sehr traurig! But late that night we saw the two giants at the Brandenburg Gate, sleeping. The little-girl giant was sleeping on the big-man giant's lap. You could hear them breathing very quietly. It was strangely moving. < Continue reading
Posted Oct 12, 2009 at The Best American Poetry