3rd WG: "The Pride of Hardness"

On 19 November 2019 the third Berlin-WG took place in Kreuzberg. 

Is resistance one of the strengths of Berliners? Does the largest city in Germany change people's minds? And is the "Berliner Schnauze" really reality or rather a cliché? Questions at the third Berlin-WG in Kreuzberg. Six guests met Joab Nist (founder of the blog "Notes of Berlin") at the large dining table in a typical apartment in an old building to discuss the Berlin character and the character of the Berliners.

Who were the WG residents on 19 November?

  • Wilfred, integration teacher from Steglitz: 
    "Berlin means life to me. Here I continuously experience something new and discover something new about myself, for example, where my limits lie."
  • Christina, curative teacher from Friedrichshain
    "I never wanted to give up my home in Berlin."
  • Goekcen, Food Tour Guide/Entrepreneur from Charlottenburg:
    "I consciously chose where I wanted to live; Berlin was my clear decision!"
  • Christian, scientific assistant and photographer from Wedding:
    "Berliners live genuine honesty instead of false friendliness."
  • Sophia, team leader and founder from Kreuzberg:
    "I like the authentic, the real thing here in Berlin."
  • Christian, initiator of the Berlin network helps!:
    "Berliners by conviction"

What was discussed at the WG table?

Is Berlin really a hard city? Does the biggest city in Germany also change the mind? And is the "Berliner Schnauze" still reality or is it just a cliché? These are all questions that moderator Joab Nist asks.

The discussion doesn't last ten minutes, it's all about the famous "Berliner Schnauze. "That's Berlin! I like it," says Christian L. a former Berliner from Berlin. Approval then in the round in the round, when Sophia, who chose Stuttgart as her home, draws a comparison between Berlin and southern Germany: "I like the authentic, the real here in Berlin. She would much prefer that to the artificial friendliness she often encounters in southern Germany.

Christian S., the filmmaker, also thinks: "Berlin lives genuine honesty. An opinion also shared by the BE BERLIN community on Twitter and Instagram, as the incoming contributions show. Ultimately, the harsh tone is not to be equated with unfriendliness, but rather with an accentuated coolness in this city, according to the audience. "Berliners are more direct, cooler - but not unfriendlier."

Moderator Joab Nist reports from his own experience: "Behind the abruptness often lies the phenomenon 'hard but hearty'. The majority of the community also thinks so, voting on Twitter and Instagram and commenting on questions: Berliners are "quick-witted, direct and also sometimes rough, but mostly with a wink," writes a follower on Instagram.

So isn't Berlin a "damn pony yard"?

Moderator Joab Nist enriches the round with his "Notes" - the collected finds from the street and from house corridors on his blog. On a photo of petting ponies he holds up it says: "Berlin is not a damn pony yard! Does the group see it the same way?

"I wouldn't sign that," replies Christina. "Berlin is freedom, everyone can unfold here". That is a big plus in this city and not a matter of course. But one could also fail because of this freedom. The participants notice the hardness of Berlin above all in everyday life on the streets as well as in overcrowded trains and buses.

However, Wilfred of the Philippines reports from his first days in Berlin of many smiling faces looking at him on the bus. But in the S-Bahn he had to "box his way in" in rush hour traffic.

And what about the bus drivers and their legendary announcements in bombastic buses, when the passengers once again stand up to the doors? Announcements such as: "So I can stand here all day and wait. I have chairs with me"? Christian L., born in Berlin, calls this the famous "brittle charm" of Berliners. Many a tourist is now even disappointed when he is not plumged into Berlin. 

Wer ist härter – die Berliner oder die Zugezogenen?

„Für Ausländer ist Berlin die bessere Stadt als London oder New York“, findet Gökcen, der in allen drei Städten bereits gelebt hat. In Berlin seien die Menschen offener gegenüber Fremden, vielleicht liege es daran, dass Berlin schon immer mehr im Werden und Wachsen war und weniger fertig ist als andere Städte, vermutet Christian L. „Berlin hatte viele harte Einschnitte, wie die Teilung und die Wiedervereinigung“, begründet es der gebürtige Berliner. „Aber die Härte kommt auch von außen. Mittlerweile sind doch die gebürtigen Berliner bei mehr als 3,4 Millionen Einwohnern in der Unterzahl“, ergänzt er.

Christina schildert hierzu ein Erlebnis, das ihr klar gezeigt habe, dass die verbale Härte nicht mit mangelnder Hilfsbereitschaft gleichzusetzen sei. Sie berichtet von einem schweren Fahrradunfall, durch den sie zu Boden fiel und sogar bewusstlos wurde. „Als ich aufwachte, standen sieben Menschen um mich und wollten mir helfen!“ Auch das sei Berlin!

Does Berlin change the character of the people living here?

"Maybe I'm Berlin because I've become a bit rude," says Wilfred, who grew up in the Philippines in a culture that values courtesy and harmony. Bad? No.

Fact, says Joab Nist, openly discussing whether Berlin is spoiling its character. Sophia continues to call herself a "proud Berliner" in Stuttgart, too. Here you have character - here not everyone is the same."

Is the group proud to be part of this hardness? asks Joab at the end. "A difficult question," says Wilfred. "I'm less proud, but happy to be able to realize my dream in Berlin." Sophia concludes by advising that the harshness of some people on the street should not be referred to themselves. With this attitude you can get through Berlin well as a newcomer. Christian L. has another good tip for Neuberliners at the ready: with its wide range of offers, Berlin could well overtax you. "Three events you want to go to in one evening - sometimes you have to be tough and make up your own mind".

At the end of the day, Christina reaps great approval for her attitude to the harshness of Berlin: "Ultimately, what matters is how you approach the city. What you radiate yourself - you'll get it back."

We thank all participants for their honesty and lively exchange.

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