“Geist der Bahnhöfe”
From this photograph of Berlin’s Nordbahnhof, it’s hard to imagine the train station once used for long-distance trains to northern Germany had been closed, known as a “Geisterbahnhof” or “ghost station”. Not only did the Wall divide country and city, but also divided the existing urban train network in Berlin. This transit map from 1989 shows how the green, blue, and purple lines in West Berlin go through East Berlin. To prevent East Germans from escaping to the West, BVG trains in West Berlin would not stop at stations located in East Berlin; all passengers would see were dimly-lit dusty derelict stations guarded by East German border patrols. After the fall of the Wall in 1989, reconstruction led to the reopening of Nordbahnhof on 1 September 1990, a month before German reunification. Today, S-Bahn S1, S2, and S25 trains on the important north-south “central axis” stop here.
Perhaps the title of the photo should be “Geist des Bahnhofes” to account for the grammar, but I prefer my choice. I also would’ve liked the photo a little earlier at 245pm to “slice” the S column, but I might not have had these four well-placed figures in this “late decision moment.” I think the light, colour, and elements converge favourably in composition to reflect the spirit of the station and the resilient people of Berlin.
More, in English and German
2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall, and the 90th anniversary of S-Bahn service in Berlin. 2015 is the 25th anniversary of the reunification of Germany.
• Berlin Wall Memorial | Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer
• Inside Nordbahnhof station: Ghost stations exhibition | Geisterbahnhöfe Ausstellung
• Border station in a divided city, by Rebecca Holland
• Berlin’s Ghost Stations, by Marcel Krueger
• Where the wall once stood there is now a park next to Nordbahnhof, by Georg Seebode
I made the image above at the south entrance (Invalidenstrasse) to S-Bahn Nordbahnhof station on 19 October 2012 with the Canon EOS450D (XSi) camera, EF 18-55 IS II lens, and the following settings: 1/800s, f/8, ISO200, 18mm (29mm) focal length. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com, and also appears on Travel Photo Thursday for Budget Travelers Sandbox.