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Berlin’s “Gespenstermauer” (Ghost Wall)

02/06/2011
One of Berlin’s more charming stories is that of the “Gespenstermauer” (Ghost Wall) near Oranienburger Straße 41. I just had a little “experience” there myself.

We’ll get to that in a minute, but first let’s look at a couple of other things on the street I visited on 1 June, 2011.

First, let’s look at the Neue Synagoge (New Synagogue). The term “New” is simply part of the name, as the building was actually completed in 1866. The unique Moorish style made the building one of Berlin’s most important architectural landmarks of the late 19th century. It was the largest Synagogue in Berlin at the time, with seating for over 3000.

There’s not enough space here to really get into the rich (and tragic) history of the building, but a brief summery would include its near destruction on “Kristallnacht” (9 Nov, 1938). The Nazi crowd ransacked the building and set it ablaze. As morning arrived a single brave Berlin police officer informed the crowd it was his duty to protect the landmark. Drawing his pistol, he stated he intended to carry out his duty regardless of the consequences. This action dispersed the crowd long enough for firefighters to put out the blaze. The building was safe for the time being.

Unfortunately, the building was almost completely destroyed by Allied bombing later in the war. The building more or less laid in ruins until after German unification. Some parts of the building survived and were protected by various groups during this time. After the fall of the Berlin wall, reconstruction began. Most of the building is used as office space today, with only one small room used for religious services.


Here’s a video with a bit more detail:


Next, take a look at the old post office just down the street called the Postfuhramt. Completed in 1881, it was once Berlin’s main post office. One look at the photo will illustrate the beauty of the building’s neo-Gothic brickwork… and how huge the building is. In addition to the space necessary for normal postal work, the building contained a stable for 300 horses and sleeping quarters for the drivers.

Today an art museum resides in the building. Note the upside down car on the steps displayed as “art” for a current exhibition, giving a clue that the art exhibits there lean toward the abstract.

Ok… So now we come to the part of my post today that I promised you… It my little story on the “Ghost Wall” in Berlin (near Oranienburger Straße 41) where two small children’s ghost spirits are often reported being seen ‘out of the corner of your eye’ as they dash out of the wall and into the street. (I didn’t see them, darn it.)


Even if they remain unseen, legend has it that those leaving a penny (or other small denomination coin) in a crack in the brick wall will have a wish granted by the two children’s spirits. The two provisions are that (1) the wish must be simple enough for these two small spirits to accomplish and (2) the wish must not be selfish.

So I thought, “Why not give it a try?”… Below you can see where I inserted my penny.


After inserting my penny into the wall and taking a couple of photos, it dawned on me that I had yet to make my wish…

The first thing that popped into my head was to simply wish that the two young spirits would bring a smile to the face of the next person who happened to walk by.

At that point, I stepped back to take a photo a few feet from the wall. Just as I snapped the photo, a woman approached me and without saying a word pointed to an address in a tourist guidebook.

Because I had just located the Ghost Wall by its address, I knew exactly where I was and could see the address the woman was seeking was just a building or two further down the street.

That allowed me instruct the woman where to find her address (in German… thank you very much). She thanked me whole heatedly and guess what?… She gave me a big smile!

That was probably just a coincidence…. Don’t you think? 😉

Until next time!

RJ


Update 9 June 2011:

I happened to ride by the wall today and thought I’d take a look at my penny.  Although I had hidden it well, making it far less obvious than other pennies surrounding it (left by other people), my penny was gone.

A foolish credulity filled person (such as myself) might choose to believe the penny was taken for “payment of services provided”.  🙂
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