By Thomas Peter
“It feels good to walk in nature after so many months of boredom in the Immigration Holding Centre,” said Sallisou as we walked along a poplar-lined alley in the sleepy hinterland of Potsdam-Mittelmark, a rural county just outside the German capital of Berlin. Two weeks earlier, the smiling man from Niger had joined a 600 km (372 miles) foot march of refugees. With every county border they crossed, they were breaking a state order that restricts their movement to a territory around their camp. At present, Sallisou was eagerly filming the procession of refugees with a small video camera.
“Since I have been on this march, my days have a purpose again. There is so much to organize and we do it ourselves. We work as a team. Being on the move feels like I have a home again,” Salissou said.
By Thomas Peter
The Bundestag in Berlin, session 188. The plenum below the grand glass dome of the Reichstag building is buzzing with the voices of lawmakers who are to vote today on the ratification of Europe’s permanent bailout mechanism.
News photographers pluck the occasional picture from among the crowd with a timid click of their cameras. But everyone is waiting for Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Over the last decade Berlin has been changing more rapidly than most of its inhabitants can stomach. Because of its history, the brunt of gentrification that changes everything (from social fabric to architecture) has hit the German capital more than other cities around the world.
Before the Wall came down, Berlin used to be a mecca for bohemians, artists, left-wing idealists and military service dodgers, mostly from West Germany. The collapse of East Germany resulted in an abundance of neglected buildings available in East Berlin. Punks and artists flocked in and the city became Europe’s capital of squats. A maelstrom of unfettered subculture productivity ensued, bestowing the city with an aura of the urban cool that feeds into its reputation to the present day.
<img src="http://blogs.reuters.com/photo/files/2010/07/loveparade9.jpg" alt="A rucksack is seen at the site where a stampede killed some 21 people during a festival in Duisburg July 24, 2010. REUTERS/Thomas Peter " title="A rucksack is seen at the site where a stampede killed some 21 people during a festival in Duisburg July 24, 2010. REUTERS/Thomas Peter " width="600" height="400" class="alignnone size-full wp-image-16769"
When I arrived at the scene there was no crowd, no screams, just this dark tunnel. A grimy concrete tube about the length of two soccer pitches and the width of a two-lane country road. It felt cramped and haunting even when it stood empty.