You Can’t Take Walls Down

Here’s a park — a playground — in Dresden’s Neustadt, that was given a communist-era face before 1989, by fathers and mothers after work, with material plundered from the industrial factories in which they laboured. Middle class values were not supported. That was the class enemy. You had to scrounge. You will find little playgrounds like this all over the former East Germany, but do look closer. Not only is the wall providing safety to the children inside built out of mass-manufactured concrete plates, a sure sign of graffiti-like repurposing, but they resemble nothing so much as the old Berlin Wall. In other words, this image is the DDR, the old East German State, in miniature. You just can’t take walls down once they’ve been put up. Humans, who live in environments and become bound to them internalize them, and that’s that.

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And then parents take their children to them for further training in the cult of walls. Aren’t we all just so clever.

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