Samstag, 25. Juli 2015

Welcome to Berlin, European Maccabi Games!

 I've been around Olympia Stadium area several times, but never was motivated enough to enter the stadium and eventually take a tour of the place. It is not necessarily because my limited sport knowledge, but because the place in itself did not inspire me. This time, on a rainy Sunday, I finally found a reason to head, together with an impressive amount of people obviously more interested about sport life than will ever be. 
From the train station, brownish brick bridges in the middle of a small forest help us to not get lost. All you have to go is so follow the large path and the big signs.
Breathing the fresh air of the small forest, you may want to get lost and slow down. After all, it is just a peaceful non-working day and nothing can bother my serenity.
But once out of the woods, you are faced with the reality of a different time and kind. The massive construction with the olympic circles hanging between the two pillars was inaugurated on the occasion of the 1936 Summer Olympics that played an important role in the power coreography of Nazi propaganda. Guided or individual tours are available round the week and I am going too through the gates of the entrance. 
The first benchmark: the Southern Stelae for the Olympic Champions. Each stelae is representing a sport represented by the craved image of an athlete in the Greek style with the name of the German winners inscribed on the other side. Among them, Alfred and Gustav Flatow, the two gymnasts of Jewish origin that perished at Terezin. New champions were added after 1945. Since 1997, the Reichsportfeldstrasse nearbz, was named for the Flatow cousins, who won at gymnastic games at the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.
I did not expect to see such a display of totalitarian art. The discus throwers statue by Karl Albiker is such an example, presenting the new type of man of the Nordic race imagined by the crazy totalitarian regime.
Another example is the Olympic Bell decorated with totalitarian symbols in the front of which many visitors are nonchalantly taking their selfies. It was displayed between 1936-1947, and rededicated in 1982 in the memory of the victims. 
The massive lime stones the stadium and the adjacent buildings are made of creates a certain heavy ambiance where you feel overwhelmed and dimminished.
After the Nazi Olympic games ended, the names of the German winners, but also of the representatives of the German establishment were inscribed in stone. After the war, they were removed. May be erased from the book of life for ever for their evil deeds.... 
The Olympia Stadium complex is covering 1.32 square meters, with a capacity of around 100,000 people. It includes the Maifeld - with a 50,000 people capacity, the Waldbühne amphitheater - 25,000 capacity - as well as facilities for tennis, football, swimming and hockey. This massive horse is another example of totalitarian art, with the animal in a rigid position, completely subordinated to the force of the human. 
The long corridors are empty now, leaving the visitor alone with its thoughts. There is so much negative energy around. Someone coming here to attend a sport event, like one of the sport shows of Hertha BSC whose souvenir shop is situated nearby, will definitely have a different feeling crossing these halls. 
And there is the stadium, one of the biggest I've seen in Europe - not that I dedicate too much travel time to visiting famous stadiums anyway. After being used for a long time during the 1930s and 1940s as a display of totalitarianism, it recovered its glory in 2006, when used regularly for the FIFA World Cup Games. The initial plans and structure were kept, and new modern facilities were added.
In only 3 days, this haunted place will host for the first time the European Maccabi Games 2015 - the Jewish Olympics. The Jewish European sporting championships is held every 4 years in a different European city, with an attendance of around 2,000 Jewish athletes from 37 countries. In a place where the Jewish athletes were banned from attendance and in a country where after 6 million people were killed, later on, in 1972, Jewish sport players were murdered by terrorists at the Munich Olympics, Rabbi Yitshak Ehrenberg will say the kaddish (Jewish prayer for the death) for all the Jewish victims. 
The entrance to the sport competitions is free. 

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