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Isolde Freitag: Delivering tomorrow’s news

On the nighttime streets of Wilmersdorf, Isolde Freitag delivers the next morning’s news while the city sleeps.

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Photos: Paula Ragucci

Isolde Freitag is 68 years old, a pensioner and a self-described “Ossie”, who’s previously worked as a cook and as a Hausmeister at a Berlin embassy. She lives on Friedrichstraße, has three children and two grandchildren and has been distributing newspapers for the past two years.

Isolde’s night starts at 2:30am when she pushes her empty cart to Emser Platz off of Hohenzollerndamm: here, in a Wilmersdorf parking lot, she picks up the papers to be delivered to posh addresses in and around Konstanzerstraße, off of the Ku’damm.

Image for Isolde Freitag: Delivering tomorrow's news

Isolde pushing her haul of newspapers through the streets. Photo: Paula Ragucci

She has a bundle of keys to the buildings she needs to enter and a book with delivery information that ́s updated daily. Usually a tour lasts three hours. If she’s lucky, she’s in bed by 7:30am. After that the day is pretty much shot.

One of the worst parts of the job is waiting for the delivery van to show up with the newspapers. Sometimes she’s there for up to two hours until the papers arrive, in the cold or the rain. But these days, she’s not prepared to wait that long: if the papers aren’t there in an hour, she’ll go home, she says.

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Tonight she’s lucky: the van arrives on time. Photo: Paula Ragucci

Tonight she’s lucky, the van arrives right on time. It’s a new guy. He chucks the bundles of papers carelessly on the pavement in front of Isolde. “Do you always throw the papers?” she asks. No answer. Either he’s rude or he doesn’t speak German. A few of her colleagues also don’t. One is from India, she says.

And so off she goes through the silent streets of Wilmersdorf. There’s hardly a soul on the streets. Isolde wears thin black gloves to prevent the newspaper ink from rubbing off on her hands.

Image for Isolde Freitag: Delivering tomorrow's news

Leaving the house in the small hours. Photo: Paula Ragucci

She has two hours to deliver 76 papers on one tour and 65 papers on the other. That’s what she was hired for. But now she’s also asked to deliver catalogues and letters, and not only to the mail boxes down below, but in front of the doors. It’s a thankless job, she says, and there’s a woeful lack of hands. She’s been asked to recruits friends or acquaintances for the same work.

As a paper deliverer she gets the news first. But this doesn’t concern her; she never reads them.