What’s a good symbol to associate with?


by Ulf on July 24th, 2008 (Permalink)

Much ado about Senator Obama in Berlin

Today Mr Obama is visiting Berlin, and as part of the visit he gives a public speech on … something. We don’t know yet what it’s about. All we know is that there has been a two-week-long brouhaha about where he could give the speech.

In front of Rathaus Schöneberg, like JFK? But that building doesn’t signify much of anything now that the city is reunited.

In front of Tempelhof Airport and its Berlin Airlift Monument? That would have been a fitting place to talk about American/German relations, but it’s doubtful that that’s going to be the topic of the speech (or that the people attending the speech are meant to be the audience, for that matter).

Maybe in front of Brandenburg Gate, like Ronald Reagan? Mr Obama would have liked to, but various and sundry German politicians (including the Chancellor) were opposed, since he isn’t President quite yet. Never mind that it’s fine for musicians and soccer teams to appear on stage in front of it. Also never mind that -while the Gate does signify the division and reunification of the city, and by extension of the country- the Quadriga with its Iron Cross also stands for wars and conquests.

Quadriga at Brandenburg Gate

So where is he giving the speech now? Next to the Victory Column. One hopes that someone explained to Mr Obama that the victory in question was not over communism, but over neighboring Denmark, Austria and France in the 1860s/70s. Those wars led to German unification and the foundation of the German Empire, and so may have played a part in what happened in Europe in the first half of the 20th century. (It may not be recognizable in the picture, but what’s adorning the Column are gilded cannons, captured during those wars.)

Victory Column

Or maybe he’s trying to be hip and is thinking of the Love Parade and the Berlin Marathon, both of which are more commonly associated with the Column these days.

Tricky stuff, history, in a place like this. Senator McCain is expected later this election season; we’ll see if -and where- he chooses to speak.


2 Responses to “What’s a good symbol to associate with?”

  1. Map Says:

    I was waiting for you to blog about Obama’s visit! :D

    (Me’s going to vote for him)

  2. Uncontrolled Vocabularies » Blog Archive » My life skills need upgrade Says:

    [...] blogged about Barack Obama’s visit to Berlin, and we have something going here, in San Francisco, too. I just learned that last Christmas a [...]

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