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  • Konrad Werner: Berlin is rubbish


Konrad Werner: Berlin is rubbish

Berlin has made embarrassing mistakes or Berlin IS embarrassing? Bild is always trying to tell us one or the other. But Konrad Werner thinks that maybe being embarrassing isn't such an embarrassment after all.

Image for Konrad Werner: Berlin is rubbish
Photo by Bergfels (Flickr CC)

I realize that al-Qaeda don’t really exist and all (I mean, apart from the FACT that those planes were photoshopped in by the BBC, if there really are Muslim terrorists, how come the German police has stopped pretending to find them, and now spends most of its time arresting Muslims who give out books? The underestimated threat of paper cuts?) but if they did, now would be a good time to attack Germany.

The German secret service – the Bundesnachrichtendienst – currently has no office. Don’t worry, I haven’t just given away a crucial snippet of national security intel. I read it in the news. It was reported this week, not very secretly, that the new BND headquarters, being built along Chausseestraße, will now not open as planned, because the air conditioning system doesn’t work. Not only that, but the delay means that, according to BND President Gerhard Schindler, the German spies are actually leaving the service because there’s nowhere for them to work, at least not without getting hot and sticky.

As a result, all the unemployed spies are currently wandering aimlessly around Mitte. They’re probably becoming undercover hipsters and starting strange new web portals.

The thing I like best about Berlin’s construction cock-ups is the way that Bild always does a story about how rubbish we are. This time, the world’s sixth biggest-selling newspaper ran the headline “Berlin can’t do it” and listed all the things Berlin had fucked up recently – airport, S-Bahn, spy HQ. But those things are not what the “it” in the headline referred to. That “it” had a tone of general exasperation about it. For Bild, the broken air conditioning in the half-built spy complex is a metaphor for the amateurish, generally un-German way that Berlin is always conducting itself. In this headline, “it” meant “be the capital of Germany.”

But then, that’s why everyone here loves “it”. There’s nothing that warms a Berliner’s cold, misanthropic heart more than being an embarrassment to Bild. Maybe all those hobo spies, drifting along Chausseestraße will learn to love it too when they send out the invites to their undercover vernissage.