A new shoot for more say (neue-deutschland.de)

An unrenovated prefabricated building in Berlin Marzahn-Hellersdorf.

Foto: picture-alliance / ZB

“I would like there to be a garden here where we can have watermelons and tomatoes,” says Edita. The 13-year-old stands on a large green area on Maxie-Wander-Straße in the Hellersdorf district. She and some of her fellow campaigners from the refugee shelter opposite have high hopes for the district’s future construction projects on this wasteland. “I wish there was a house here where only girls can come in. So without boys, because they always annoy us, ”says ten-year-old Shakhsalem, for example.

The young activists address their wishes to those responsible in district politics. Together with the child and youth participation office Marzahn-Hellersdorf they shot a video with which they stand up for their cause. They implemented this plan as part of the Young Politics Studio project, which is intended to offer a pandemic-friendly alternative to the annual children’s and youth assemblies. In recent years, these gatherings have provided space for children and young people to exchange their concerns and questions with district politicians. Since these face-to-face events are not allowed to take place in the Corona lockdown due to the far too high risk of infection, this year they are instead making videos that they are sending to the district office and are now waiting for the answers – also as a video.

The films of the young people available online offer an interesting insight into their diverse problems and interests: The UN youth leisure facility in Marzahn, for example, fears that if the four-lane federal road B158 is planned to be converted, it will lead directly through their garden in the future. Schoolchildren in the Mahlsdorf district are still waiting for the construction of a previously missing youth club to begin. The team of the Children’s and Youth Parliament in the process of being founded is committed to ensuring that young people’s participation is structurally anchored in the district. Activists from Fridays For Future are calling for more climate protection measures. And children from the refugee accommodation on Albert-Kuntz-Straße in Hellersdorf want zebra crossings to be created for the way to school and musical instruments to be obtained for their accommodation.

So far, only two response videos from the district office have been published. “We are continuing to work on making response videos to all questions,” assures Frank Petersen, the press spokesman for the Marzahn-Hellersdorf district office. But this is a complex process in which many different departments of the district office are involved. It would therefore take some time, he said on request.

The next step is to publish an answer for the children on Maxie-Wander-Straße. Susan Hermenau, the coordinator for refugee issues in the district office, can give an insight in advance. “The green space in front of the refugee accommodation is intended for municipal housing, among other things,” she explains to the “nd”. Until there is construction, the area can be used for cultural events. “As an integration office, we are pleased that the refugee children are getting involved, they are often forgotten or not asked,” says Susan Hermenau.

Antonia Groner works for the child and youth participation office Marzahn-Hellersdorf and prepared and moderated the content of the question videos together with some of her colleagues. “Children and young people should participate politically and be involved,” says the 20-year-old. Overall, she is satisfied with the video version that she developed for the children and youth assembly.

“The whole thing was of course much more complex now, but I think it was worth it,” says Groner.

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»That was a wonderful day« (neue-deutschland.de)

With the Claire Waldoff program, not a single eye remained dry.

Foto: nd/Heidi Diehl

Somehow it was a good thing that the bus was not fully booked, because a few more seats were needed for very special travelers – famous Berliners with heart and soul: the painter Otto Nagel, the architect Heino Schmieden, the garden architect Albert Brodersen, the legendary Charlotte von Mahlsdorf and the entertainer Claire Waldoff honored the participants of the day trip of nd readers through Berlin. And on a memorable day – October 1st, the 100th anniversary of the founding of Greater Berlin.

Clear »Snowblower«, Sigrid Grajek

Clear »Snowblower«, Sigrid Grajek

Foto: nd/Heidi Diehl

That was really a coincidence, because the tour was supposed to take place in June, but Corona slowed everything down. With a distance and in compliance with all hygiene measures, it was now possible. Each of the 25 fellow travelers was assigned a fixed place by bus driver Rade Berger, and when the tour guide Dr. Siegfried Wein, art historian and Berliner with passion, asked whether he still had to disinfect the microphone before using it, Rade simply replied: “It’s already done, of course.”

Bus driver Rade Berger assigns the seats.

Bus driver Rade Berger assigns the seats.

Foto: nd/Heidi Diehl

Well then it could start: With (mostly) Berliners through Berlin, which is “an amalgamation of many villages with the two cities of Spandau and Köpenick,” as Siegfried Wein explained.

On the way along the B1 from the Ostbahnhof via Kreuzberg, Potsdamer Platz, Leipziger Straße and Karl-Marx- and Frankfurter Allee to Biesdorf, the fellow travelers learned a lot of historical and current information about their city, of which they often had no idea.

The first destination was Biesdorf Castle, where an exhibition with works by Otto Nagel was originally to be shown in June, who lived right around the corner from the castle until his death. In a sense, it was also the painter to whom this special nd reader journey was owed. “I was annoyed that there wasn’t even a note in the ‘nd’ for the artist’s 125th birthday in September last year,” said the tour guide. »When I called the editorial office about it, the editor asked me quite unsuspectingly: ‘Who is Otto Nagel?’ And so the idea arose to take a reader trip to where the artist lived and to see the exhibition in the castle. «

Although this did not take place due to Corona, the fellow travelers – who of course all knew Nagel – were enthusiastic about what they learned about the 150-year history of the castle and its park and about the designers around Heino Schmieden and Albert Brodersen. Dr. Heinrich Niemann, long-time city councilor in the Marzahn-Hellersdorf district, in which the castle is located, and chairman of the Friends of Biesdorf Castle association, knew a lot to tell – about the castle as well as later on a tour of the district, the youngest and how many were amazed, the third greenest in all of Berlin.

The tour ended in Mahlsdorf, in the Wilhelminian style museum, where Marzahn-Hellersdorf is almost “rural and moral”. Here Charlotte von Mahlsdorf “climbed” out of the bus, at least her spirit wafted towards the guests from every crack of the former manor house from the 18th century, which Charlotte – born in Mahlsdorf in 1928 as Lothar Berfelde – once bought and with her collection of Wilhelminian style furniture and mechanical musical instruments. The »Mulackritze«, a legendary Berlin pub from the 1920s, survived to this day. Charlotte had bought the facility and given it a new home in the basement of the manor house.

Claire Waldoff actually had an appointment there with the guests. But for security reasons related to the corona, she told us, “prompted” by the wonderful Sigrid Grajek, about her life in the courtyard. The guests were thrilled, they just laughed warmly at the little bit of cold, and in the end everyone agreed: “That was a wonderful day. Berlin is worth travelling to.”

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Withdrawn for four and a half months (neues-deutschland.de)

Most of us had withdrawal symptoms after two months without chorus at the latest, «says Regine Marzahn-Blöcher. She is an ensemble member of the Hanns Eisler Choir, which, like all other Berlin choirs, has been in the corona-related forced break for four and a half months. Not just for eternity for Marzahn Blöcher. Daniel Selke, artistic director of the Ernst Busch Choir Berlin, says: »Everyone knows that singing is our life.«

No adequate joint rehearsals, no adequate performances: The Chorverband Berlin, the largest amateur music organization in the capital alone, has around 290 ensembles with around 11,000 singers and choir directors, including the around 75 men and women of the Busch Choir and around 60 active members of the Eisler Choir. And for all of them, the shutdown that started in mid-March continues for the time being, while everything around them and in all areas of life has been eased weeks ago.

Since the Senate passed the Sars CoV-2 Infection Protection Ordinance at the end of June, there has been a kind of cultural struggle for choral singing, since the passage contains a phrase in the paper: “It is not allowed to sing together in closed rooms.” Everything is allowed, only chorus not? The choir association was outraged. “This results in an acute endangerment of all choirs in the state of Berlin,” it said in a letter written to cultural senator Klaus Lederer (left). There was talk of “wiping out cultural assets” and “ban on professions” for choir directors and singers.

Lederer defended himself several times. Only a good ten days ago, after a conversation with the choir association and the State Music Council, he referred to “the unchanged critical pandemic situation and the special risk situation that is now considered to be secure due to the aerosol spread of the viral load, which is particularly high in singing”.

Unlike the representatives of the umbrella organization, Daniel Selke can understand the reluctance of the cultural administration. Not only because Selke, even though he was born in 1983, conducts a “senior choir” with the Busch Choir, who explicitly sees himself as one: “Our oldest member turns 92 shortly before Wehnachten.” He also knows the senator personally. For this reason alone it was clear to him that Lederer “certainly does not want to ban choir singing if he pays tribute to the health risks”. Of course, the members of the Busch Choir are “sad, sometimes impatient, because many prepared projects are unfortunately not possible, it is not possible to study new songs online.” But Corona is simply a conflict situation in which decisions have to be made without being able to say with certainty “what is really right now”.

Regine Marzahn-Blöcher from the Eisler Choir sees it similarly. She also calls for serenity, “with all frustration.” The cultural administration had to “manage the balancing act, not to let the choirs die, but at the same time to ensure healthy conditions”. In addition, regulations are regulations. “We just have to stick to it,” says the retired comprehensive school teacher who has been with the Eisler Choir since 1975.

Busch and Eisler Choir: That sounds like a twin project. The composer Hanns Eisler’s battle songs, created at the end of the 1920s, are interpreted by singer Ernst Busch to be among the “evergreens” of the communist workers’ movement and beyond. In fact, the two choirs have some things in common. Both were founded in 1973, both emerged in the context of a Socialist Unity Party, but on the other side of the wall: the Busch Choir as a vocal initiative by party veterans of the SED in East Berlin, the Eisler Choir as a project by teaching students, most of whom were closely related to SEW , the Socialist Unity Party of West Berlin.

For the most part, the West Berlin student choir has also long since become a senior choir, says Marzahn-Blöcher. There are also younger offspring. »But two thirds of our choir belongs to the so-called risk group, a member has just turned 80.« She is now 73 years old. And maybe it is precisely this age structure that feeds a little bit into the understanding of the two choirs, which are still politically committed to this day.

Some members of the Eisler Choir are already actively addressing their “withdrawal symptoms”. After all, the June Infection Protection Ordinance only explicitly forbids singing in closed rooms, but not “outdoor singing,” says Marzahn-Blöcher. So she mobilized. Since then, around ten Eisler people have come together regularly to sing under a bridge in Tempelhof. “After all, we are in the fresh air and we have more sound under the bridge.” That is “good for the soul”. But ultimately only a small consolation: “Most of our pieces need full choral sound.” And that only works in closed rooms.

After all, land is in sight. In the course of Lederer’s meeting with the choir association and the State Music Council a good two weeks ago, it was decided that the cultural administration would develop a “hygiene framework concept”, on the basis of which rehearsals beyond bridge underpasses would then be possible again. It should be there by the middle of next week, says Lederer’s spokesman Daniel Bartsch. At the same time, it dampens high expectations. »The guideline must be the epidemiological development and the minimization of the risk of infection with the coronavirus. It is important to find the fine line in between. «The matter is tricky. Ventilation, room volume, audience, type of song: All of these parameters should be included in the specifications, according to Bartsch zu »nd«.

For choir director Selke, the problem with a hygiene concept is not out of the world alone. On the one hand, he misses active support from the administration in the search for sufficiently large rehearsal rooms. On the other hand, says Selke, the Senate cares far too little about the artistic environment of the choirs. »Choir directors and pianists sometimes feel a little lonely – and of course also destitute.«

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