While I was traveling in Germany in 2013, capturing the images I carefully planned for the journey - sketches I had prepared at home, I had an encounter with an Israeli named Amit, who lives in both Israel and Germany. It so happened that while Neta spoke to me through the intercom outside the building, he happened to pass by and overhear our Hebrew conversation... and that is pretty much all it takes for two Israelis to start talking... I guess :D
Amit showed immediate interest in my project! I guess these thoughts and feelings I try to deal with within myself tend to resonate with other fellow Israelis. Upon seeing some of my work, he exclaimed, "I have a great story for you! If you come over tomorrow, you can even take a photo of it for your project."
"Under The Paint"
No matter how meticulous a plan might be drawn, there must always be room for spontaneity! So we went with him the next day to hear a story - and perhaps take a photo on the set. Amit had recently purchased a flat in the eastern part of Berlin and was in the midst of renovating it. During the renovation process, when a worker removed a thick layer of paint off the old wall, a clear mark of the SS symbol was unexpectedly revealed. Both Amit and I stood there, confronted by this hidden symbol from the past that had just been unearthed. My shock was immediate, I could imagine dark ceremonies, with candle lights, or worse...maybe its from back then, during the war, maybe Nazis lived here, marking the walls for some unexplained reason...imagination can go far and dark, when in state of hysteria, I guess...
Amit grabbed his mobile phone and shared a WhatsApp correspondence he had with close family and friends, all in a group he created to follow his adventures in Berlin. Amit started up at the top, showing me the first message he sent which was the photograph of the pealed wall. Then, scrolling up and down through messages I saw the responses to the image he took. There was just a gushing immediate emotional avalanche of responses all the way!
Hysterical reaction from his family and friends! It was intense, it was understandable, in my eyes, this was a scary revelation! Concerned messages calling him to return to Israel, comments such as: "Once a Nazi, always a Nazi," "They will never learn!" and "Please come back to Israel, there is nothing there for you."
...Let's just call it "The banality of concern"...and...well..me too, I was totally taken by this.
These comments seemed all too familiar and perhaps even justified... until Amit scrolled down to a particular comment that shone like a beacon of reasoning in the darkness of texts... It read something like, "Hey guys... I don't mean to spoil your evening of speculation and horror, but as an architect...I feel I should tell you that those are not the notorious 'SS' marks... rather, this is how, during construction, we mark walls which contain hidden electric wires which run up and down this specific wall, in case any drilling is needed while constructing... for safety reasons."
I have to give Amit credit - he sure managed to build this story very well - right 'till the almost embarrassing end.
I captured the scene in multiple ways, experimenting with different angles and lighting, ultimately ending up favoring two versions of the photograph.
"Under The Paint 2"
I like the first (top) image because it focuses on the comparison of this wall, as flat as a plate, with the clear view of the neighbors' windows, almost echoing the question - how did such evil grow, how could things like this occur so close yet so "freely" spread and terrorise almost a whole continent how could the neighbours not intervene?
I like the second image because it focuses on the interior with the windows spreading their shadow wings, like an eagle, scary.
Which one do you like?
What thoughts might it evoke for you?
I'd love to hear what you think.
Or maybe an interesting photo of your own, or a similar story?