Posts Tagged ‘Unter den Linden’

Corner hugging Nante – Eckensteher Nante

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

“Corner hugging Nante (Eckensteher Nante in German),” along with painter Heinrich Zille (http://walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/heinrich-zille-and-his-milieu/) and street singer “Harfenjule”, were Berlin archetypes of the 19th and early 20th century. Each is credited with a good dose of the legendary spirit, so unique to the Berliner character: Big heart and big mouth. These Berlin originals were good-natured, quick-witted, exceedingly self-confident, flippant, and sometimes even a little coarse. They came from all walks of life and commented on life around them with the appropriate joke. The figure of Nante became a timeless classic on account of Adolf Glassbrenner’s folksy theater piece, “Eckensteher Nante im Verhoer (The Interrogation of Corner hugging Nante), which premiered in 1833.

Corner hugging Nante

The real name of the historic Eckensteher Nante was Ferdinand ‘Nante’ Strumpf. He was born in 1803, had little education and performed casual work when he ran out of beer money. Once he had earned enough change, he headed for the nearby distillery Eulner. http://www.in-berlin-brandenburg.com/Berliner/Eckensteher-Nante.html It is said that Corner hugging Nante spent more time in the distillery than at work. To earn beer money, Nante positioned himself on Berlin’s ritzy boulevard, Unter den Linden (then called Koenigstrasse – King Street) and waited for an opportunity to make himself useful. He always stood in the same spot at the corner of Koenigstrasse and Neue Friedrichstrasse. With a strap slung over his shoulder to carry heavy loads, Nante usually stood resting against a post or house wall. For a few pennies, he offered to carry the purchases or luggage of well-to-do passers-by. But don’t think that Corner hugging Nante was loitering. Not at all. He was duly registered as a serviceman with the Berlin police department and wore an official brass armband that identified him as work permit holder number 22. Standing there, waiting, Nante made fun of the world around him. With typical Prussian humor, he commented on the hustle and bustle on the streets of Berlin. His earthy sayings were characterized by sarcasm, a distrust of “those above” and delivered in the grammatical style that is unique to Berlin. Over time, his cheeky proverbs became literary legend.

The archetype of the Berliner

According to “Meyers Konversations-Lexikon des 19. Jahrhunderts” 37 percent of the inhabitants of Berlin during Nante’s time had Germanic origins, 39 percent had Romanesque roots and 24 percent had Slavic blood. This mix and the prevailing circumstances evolved over time into an archetype that pooled the good and the bad qualities of the different nationalities, races and tribes. It resulted in a character that combined the toughness, endurance and obstinacy of their Germanic ancestors; the courage, laissez-faire spirit and hot-bloodedness of the French; and the quick grasp, language skills and moodiness of the Slavs. This mix made the Berliner good-natured and capable of great sacrifices. It also made him short-tempered and opinionated. Above all, it spawned the dry Berlin humor.

Nante Eck

If you wish to catch a bit of the spirit of Eckensteher Nante, drop by the Nante Eck on Unter den Linden at the corner of Friedrichstrasse. This Old-Berlin Restaurant serves traditional German food and offers plenty of ambiance. A statue of Corner hugging Nante greets you outside.

ckensteher Nante (Corner hugging Nante) in front of Nante Eck, Berlin © Photo by J. Elke Ertle. 2014

Eckensteher Nante (Corner hugging Nante) in front of Nante Eck, Berlin
© Photo by J. Elke Ertle, 2014

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com. Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.

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Christmas Time in Berlin

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

If you want to catch some good old-fashioned holiday spirit, a visit to Berlin during Christmas time might just get the job done. As a result of the reunification in 1990, Berlin has ended up with a double complement of practically everything from theaters to museums, art galleries, opera houses, symphony orchestras, churches, zoos and, of course, Weihnachtsmaerkte – Christmas markets.

Christmas market – Weihnachtsmarkt in Berlin

At last count, approximately 80 Christmas markets in and around the city beckon visitors to experience Christmas time in Berlin. There are traditional and contemporary handcrafted toys to be admired, wood- and glass art, ceramics, baskets, candles and much more. Some of the markets even invite visitors to create their own Christmas tree ornament or advent wreath. For culinary enthusiasts, treats of all kinds are waiting to be sampled. Bratwurst (sausage), Lebkuchen (gingerbread), Pilzpfanne (fresh mushrooms fried with onions and bacon), hot chocolate and Gluehwein (mulled wine) are only a few of the holiday specialties offered. Sometimes, concerts, readings and special performances may be enjoyed along the way.

Christmas Lights in Berlin

Then after dark, many parts of the city are transformed into a sea of festive lights. The Charlottenburg castle is illuminated. The energy provider, Vattenfall, lights up the 220 linden trees on Unter den Linden, Berlin’s celebrated boulevard near the Brandenburger Tor. But my favorite is the Kurfuerstendamm. For the past 11 years, the Wall AG, an outdoor advertising firm that is part of the International JDDecaux Group, has dressed up the roughly 570 trees on both sidewalks and the median in their Christmas finery. Between 650 and 950 feet of lights are required to decorate each tree. That makes for roughly 145 miles of lights. Additional light sculptures, representing a nutcracker, reindeer, a train and Christmas trees, adorn the median.

Christmas lights in Berlin - 2014 - Photo: Gundi Seifert

Christmas lights in Berlin – 2014 – Photo: Gundi Seifert

Christmas lights on Berlin's Kurfuerstendamm - 2014 - Photo: Gundi Seifert

Christmas lights on Berlin’s Kurfuerstendamm – 2014 – Photo: Gundi Seifert

If you want to get into the holiday spirit, experience Christmas time in Berlin. Now stay tuned for my favorite Gluehwein recipe. I will share it with you next week and bet that the Gluehwein will put some color into your cheeks and some goodwill into your heart.

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com. Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.

 

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