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Violating Sanctions

An American Woman’s Listening Tour Through the Axis of Evil

Ich Bin Ein Berliner

The Author By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | August 31st, 2010 | Comments 3 Comments »

Unlike Vienna or Paris, Berlin doesn’t take itself too seriously. Berlin is still a kid on Christmas morning “gee whizzing” about its bountiful choices. The restaurants are still homey and unpretentious. The impressive and numerous museums are not overdone or overpriced. Most cost 8 Euros (about $10) and the tourism bureau offers a very reasonable Museum Card – all the museums you can squeeze into 3 consecutive days for 19 Euros (about $24). 60 museums, including the significant national museums, participate.
Berlin Street Performer at Museum Isle Waiting the Rain to Pass

I spent my first afternoon on the Scharf-Gerstenberg Museum ( surveying their impressive Surrealist collection. Max Ernst, Hans Bellmer, Jean Dubuffet, artists I had heard about but didn’t know much about. Paul Klee. Even Victor Hugo. (Apparently, authors of the day doubled and dabbled as artists, firing my imagination about how I can make my book a work of art…)

My Museum Pass (see below) entitled me to free headset tour, which turned out to be one of the best “tours” I’ve taken in any museum. The artwork was described not only in the context of the artist’s work and the piece’s content, but in the cultural and political context as well, making broad use of artists’ comments about each other’s work and influence. The narrative helped me feel like I wasn’t traipsing through a pre-Timothy Leary hallucination.

And, it was more political than I’d imagined! Several of these Surrealists were imprisoned by the Nazis in the 1940s, giving their work deeper political meaning than I had understood previously.

The sister museum, the Berggruen, ( both across the street from the Charlottenburg Palace (one of several open for touring), has a concentrated collection of Picasso before he started running around on Olga. Between 1901 and 1906, he churned out 85 pre-Cubism works on display here. Coupled with the 60 works Van Gogh painted in one year that I just saw in Amsterdam 2 days ago, I realized the path to infamy and influence may be down Prolific Straße. I.e., I have to get off my increasingly round derrière and finish this book!

Or maybe I’ll pull a Harper Lee: write one good book and become a recluse.

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3 Responses to “Ich Bin Ein Berliner”

  1. Marie Says:

    Shweet. I like your opening analogy ;)

  2. Dalel Khalil Says:

    Great info! You should write for The Lonely Planet…I’d buy it!

  3. Anonymous Says:


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