Diary note 51: Tiergarten

1 I 2022

Though nothing in particular happened, I feel the long walk should be mentioned that we made in Tiergarten.

On this grey afternoon, the weather verging on rain, there were few visitors on the endless roads through the woods.

Sometimes a cyclist passed, sometimes an elderly jogger or some children guided by their parents.

The fallen or felled tree-trunks were left in place, what not so much reminded one of wild nature as of a long human presence and unconcern.

Yet this forest had been torn down for firewood in 1945. When human existence became unbearable because of winter and war. We were beginning to be reminded that the park reflected German history.

The outline is well-known. After the Prussian king gave up Tiergarten as a hunting ground, it became artificial. Von Knobelsdorf and von Lennée shaped its avenues and ponds in a grand manner befitting the Prussian competition with France and Austria. Great sub parks were added, as the garden of roses or the Luisen-insel or the imitation of Washington square and its sculpted animals.

But one cannot escape the feeling that the scale is somewhat over the top and mainly meant to impress. This reaches its summit or depth in the Siegesaule, the enormous pillar celebrating the victory over France and the establishment of a Prussian state of European dimensions.

It will not be the first time a visitor will have noticed the phallic nature of much of the symbolism in the park. The hunted animals in bronze sport massive penises and testicles, as do the hunters, their horses and their dogs. The whole symbolism of the Siegesaule itself is phallic, with the golden angel on top reminding one of a copious ejaculation.

Hitler and his acolyte Speer heightened the erection with another ‘étage’. The trotting horsemen on the bronze panels of the first floor, where the crotch would have been, are of a laughable self-satisfaction. One should not try to hide their boorish complacency, because it would also mean eliminating the soviet phallus, with its soldier on top, at a nearby war cemetery.

These hunting and warring symbols remind one of the warring caste that ruled over Prussia and its neighbors for centuries, with not more than their naked existence as a motivation.

So one starts to look and long for some higher contribution. It is rather hard to find. Goethe at the edge of the park was out of reach because Brandenburger Tor was screened off and the neighboring park made impenetrable because of the audience-less show for new year at midnight.

So one left the park with dark memories and not uplifted. Like the memory of a bronze plaque (not more than that) at the small pond where Karl Liebknecht was shot. Not by assassins but by members of the army. And the tiny signs of a diminished cult of virility in the form of red penis designs on certain trees, possibly indicating gay meeting places.