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Saturday, May 28, 2022

Take it easy!

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Herman was always there. Really always Summer or winter, hot or cold, rain or snow. His hair is white and loose, his beard is round and bushy. On his head he wore a black beret or a colorful Bolivian hat with a bow and braids. Then there was the billowing scarf and long coats or jackets. He looked like an aged and slightly confused poet. So every day Hermann would sit on his wooden bench, just outside the entrance to a bar, and drink cheap red wine that he himself had brought from a Havana Club glass.

His place, the bar, is on Görlitzer Strasse in Kreuzberg. The bar is important because it was once his. For 20 years it was a meeting place for crazy people and not so crazy people. Until Hermann got old and sold. They assured him of his right to sit on the bench with a handshake. No one could chase him away here.

He greeted the neighbors, they greeted him, he liked to call them to relax and always laugh. She called the women “Frau Doctor” or “Frau Professor”. She asked how things were going and what life was like. What she liked the most was reporting on the world situation and what she had read in the newspaper. She scared the children by making sudden noises or making faces. For some, her style was too strange, too loud. Sometimes someone in the bar would complain and say they should call the police.

But the bar manager turned him down. Hermann is one of them, and this is Kreuzberg. Over and over again, the bar manager tried to invite Hermann. Come in, I’ll fix you something. But Herman refused. Except for one time, they had made the appointment weeks in advance, when he was served good Spanish food and good red wine. Weeks later, Hermann was still excited about it.

Two Volvos. Or even three?

If you talk to Hermann’s neighbors, bar manager, former employees and guests, his life comes together like a puzzle. A puzzle with big gaps, and it’s not always clear what’s right and what’s not. He lived around the corner, on the mezzanine. When he opened the door to his apartment, the hallway smelled bad because he smoked a lot. The children found the door and the old man creepy and fascinating. More recently, Hermann was out and about on her women’s bike with a basket on the back. He is still glued to the flashlight.

I used to have a Volvo. Nope, two Volvos. Or even three? It is also said that she had a motorhome and a small house in Sweden. But first things first. Born in Oranienburg. He fled to West Berlin with his mother before the Wall was built. It is also said that he had a sister. At some point he became a father, he had a son and a daughter. But where are they today? It is said that he was neither the best father nor the best husband, to say the least. He worked at Gasag. But like what exactly? At some point, it must have been the mid-’80s, he got fed up with it all and quit. He wanted to go to Moscow. He hoped that the embalmed Lenin would be a revelation, an inspiration on what to do with the rest of his life. In general, Hermann was obsessed with Russia and communism. He was on vacation in Cuba, it is said that he was in the DKP, he reads the newspaper “Junge Welt”. But Lenin did not move, Hermann refused to point a finger. Disappointed, he returned to Berlin.

A children’s store moved into the corner building. This was his chance. For some reason, she opened a cafe and called it “Mir”. It is Russian and means “peace”.

[Die anderen Texte unserer Nachrufe-Rubrik lesen Sie hier,
weitere Texte des Autors, Karl Grünberg, lesen Sie hier]

There were wild parties until late at night. Bands performed. The “Café Mir” became a real trendy bar in Kreuzberg. In the morning we continued with a buffet breakfast, from half past nine the terrace was packed. Especially in summer when the sun was shining so beautifully in the corner. Breakfast was what was there. Hermann’s logistics were not always the best. He stuffed his receipts and bills into some gunny sack. Who had ordered what was seldom noticed, a foundation of trust. This worked fine for a long time, but at some point guests started taking advantage of it, paid little or nothing and just left. It was an up and down for years, waitresses and chefs came and went. Only Hermann was in the store every day for 20 years. He then he had enough and sold. And he continued as an independent mobile sausage vendor. When the World Cup was underway and the games were being shown on giant screens, he made the biggest sales and even hired helpers.

Having grown old, he settled in front of his old bar and became a neighborhood owl. Some found it cheeky, some as sexist. Others found him to be a good and emphatic listener. But no one was really friends with him. The bar manager suspects that Hermann was basically alone. For his last birthday they brought him boulettes and toasted with him. He wasn’t looking good by then. Someone made him tea and told him that he had better stop drinking.

And then, at some point, his place became empty.

“Hermann was always there. You knew you were coming down the street, and then Hermann was there and greeted you, and that was good. Hermann was a piece of home, home,” says a neighbor.

[Wir schreiben regelmäßig über nicht-prominente Berliner, die in jüngster Zeit verstorben sind. Wenn Sie vom Ableben eines Menschen erfahren, über den wir einen Nachruf schreiben sollten, melden Sie sich bitte bei uns: [email protected] Wie die Nachrufe entstehen, erfahren Sie hier.]


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