In his book 'The Go-Between', L.P. Hartley wrote: "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there." It's a statement which seems to hold true, and it gets truer the further back in time we look, though I recently discovered something that made me doubt that sentiment just a little...
Yesterday, while browsing through a copy of BZ, a tabloid newspaper in Berlin, I came across their annually published book which looks back at news from one hundred years ago.
If we were to counter L.P. Hartley's quote it would be with this: The more things change, the more they stay the same!
If you're a German-speaker, take a look at these few snippets:
Wagner comes to Berlin
Berlin is a cultural capital, as well as a political one. It's not rare to see an opera by Wagner performed at one of the famous theatres here. It's interesting, though, that some tastes in classical music are still the same as one hundred years ago.
The field in Tempelhof was designated an airport in 1923, and the terminal buildings were constructed a few years later. In 1914, however, they were still discussing what to do with the field. Now that the airport is closed, the very same discussions are taking place.
U-Bahn construction works
Maybe this is a little too obvious, but Berliners in 1914 had their commutes interrupted by building work on the U-Bahn too. The U-Bahn trains of today are very modern, so it is interesting to think back to all those years ago, with all that has changed in Berlin and the world at large, the same everyday frustrations affected those Berliners just like today!
All these excerpts are taken from B.Z.'s interesting book "Berlin 1914: Unsere Stadt vor 100 Jahren"... and they're just from the January chapter!
Later that year the First World War began, one of several upheavals of everyday life in Berlin, Europe and the world in the 20th century. The past may well be a foreign country - with the turmoil of two world wars and the country living divided it is difficult for someone born recently to really fathom how life must have been during these times - but although history has marched forward, some things in Berlin, it seems, have remained just the same.