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008~ Stopping the madness back in 1936...

Updated: Mar 20

Olympic Stadium 2008 Lomography

Back in 2008, Neta and I decided to go and check out the Olympic Stadium, where all those Leni Riefenstahl movie clips of crowds - roaring herds towards Hitler - gathered to marvel at the Nazi supremacy over the rest of the world in 1936. I was still quite disoriented and overwhelmed by ghosts in my head, while Neta navigated the S-Bahn and U-Bahn. We rushed underground, overground, across graffiti, switching platforms, and there it was - the Stadium Station... Or so we thought.

The station we got off was clearly too small to resemble any Bahnhof, which is supposed to be able to contain masses of people converging for a big sports event (or Death Wishing Rally)... Anyway, once we realized we got off at the wrong station, we made our next mistake - walking the one-station distance through the woods. It shouldn't have been a problem, since we were in Berlin, not thinking about any history... right?

Had we waited at the station for four more minutes, I'm pretty sure the next U-Bahn would have arrived... But we were on the run... Old habits are hard to break... I remember huge leaves on the ground and small pits that seemed like good hideouts. Oh, the thoughts are haunting and pounding! It must have been a 15-20 minute walk through the woods. I remember hearing two to three missed trains behind us (we could have just waited...), but we had our shoes on. What else does a person need in order to survive???

We reached the open area and saw the ridiculously huge train platform we should have gotten off at... And realized we might have overreacted a bit to a simple mistake... As we reached the platform, I pulled out my Lomo and shot the two towers. I didn't know that later I would return here again, taking the right train all the way and shooting the photo with adequate equipment.

The short rain shower that washed everything that day did the perfect job of cleaning everything, and the thin slice of cloud advancing to the background added a nice touch to the massive concrete structure. Thank you, Photography goddess, for your touch of unexpected miracles. I captured all the moments I needed for the perfect shot to choose from - starting with low contrast all the way to high contrasts. I will later choose the best image to photoshop.

I could see the holes in the right-hand side tower where the Swastika decoration was blown out from, and I was thinking - with all respect for sports - those five circles should be six to commemorate the six million Jews who paid the price for the 'flexibility' the international delegations worldwide displayed, amid the subtle restrictions the Nazi regime imposed on everybody. I was toying with the naive thought that nobody should have come and participated in this unity pretense.

In the final photograph, I loved the speakers potentially yelling out the incoming rage. I loved the clear marks of the blown-up (or shot down) area of the Swastika. I even liked the guard looking at me from afar, from the right-hand side.

Olympic Stadium 6 Rings -"Photoshopping history"

My two cents on this photo, which pushed me to reshoot it, is this:

Often, when people are asked, "What would you do if you had a Time Machine?" they reply with something like, "I'd go back in time and kill Hitler." It sounds simple, as if it's something a person can just do, with zero practice in killing and an abundance of screen time. It's as if they could wake up after a good night's sleep, have a nice breakfast, take a knife, walk up to Hitler who happens to be totally unparanoid or lacking insane security protection, casually approach him and say, "Yo, Hitler, I loved your book. Can you sign a copy?" and then kill him in one strike, making it back in time for brunch. Saving Europe and keeping it all to themselves... Sure.

But when I looked at this monument from 1936, I thought to myself that just three years later, in 1939, millions would be persecuted and murdered: Blacks, Roma-Sinti, gays, Jews, communists, the disabled, and so many others. Approximately 65 million people would perish, tearing the world apart. And it was only three years away.

1936 was the moment when it could have been stopped - an empty stadium. Hitler would have been nothing more than a joke, fading into the arms of his sick, powerless, doubting allies. Just like so many other events, some of which I'm afraid are occurring now, could have been stopped long before they grew into monstrous proportions. Back when they were small, a simple, unapologetic "No!" could have been powerful enough. 💔

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