MILLENNIUM CORNER

13 DAYS TO GO

BERLIN HAS a hip new anthem for the next millennium, half of it in broken English, to be sung by a million throats as the clock strikes midnight. "Berlin, it's just down the road so bright. Well, it's your new life; you've had one hard long way. Leave the bad behind, 'cause you have arrived, yeah, this time," it reads.

Trouble is, the "bad" will just not be left behind. Berlin's extravagant farewell to a dark German century faces the chop, as politicians argue over a light show's perceived Nazi content. The spectacle is part of the official celebrations, which also include an open-air concert by Mike Oldfield and a fireworks display. The three events are choreographed by Gert Hof, a local artist.

Shortly before midnight, beams of light are set to start their merry dance around the Victory Column in Tiergarten, forming what Mr Hof describes as a "cathedral of light".

Yet some people claim they have seen it all before. Jorn Jensen, the mayor of Tiergarten, and Thomas Flierl, a communist councillor in east Berlin, are reminded of Albert Speer's creations: the illuminations of the Olympic stadium in 1936 and the Nuremberg rallies. They and historians who have joined the debate also feel that the idea that 250,000 revellers should bring their torches and flash them at midnight will evoke chilling memories of the storm-troopers' torchlit processions. Worst of all, they are appalled that anyone should deign to celebrate around the Victory Column, which was worshipped by the Nazis.

Mr Hof is growing tired of explaining to the city fathers that he chose the Victory Column because it was the only open space in the city centre. "I told them: `if you don't like the Victory Column, blow it up'."

That suggestion did not go down well, but a meeting was scheduled last night to thrash out "corrections". Most of the critics are willing to concede that Mr Hof, born after the war, had no sinister agenda, but they accuse him of gross insensitivity none the less.

He has lit up skies elsewhere before, without a murmur of complaint. But Berlin is different.

"This is a German disease, and especially a Berlin disease," he says. "Wherever you go in Germany, there is a spot where the Nazis did something. But what am I supposed to do about it?"

Imre Karacs, Berlin

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence