Back to the Future

“Back to the Future”, everyone knows that title from the film trilogy  by Robert Zemeckis with Micheal J. Fox in the starring role. It is with a rather quiet satisfaction that I can say, I thought of the title already in 1977  before anybody thought of the film.


The title came to my mind for a diary I was going to write about my first trip back  from Australia to West-Berlin.

Germany, and with it West-Berlin, had experienced an economic miracle (Wirtschaftswunder) and I wanted to see those changes.



I bought a big, fat copy book. Its title is still  the only written evidence  of that trip. Actually, it is no evidence at all, just a thought bubble.


Now, thirty-eight years later, it came to my mind again, as my wife and I, plus a large number of my family are preparing for another trip to that beloved city of my personal history.


Berlin has undergone another tremendous change from the time the Wall came down. That event changed the whole world by accelerating globalisation.


In the meantime, the youth of the world has discovered Berlin and they are  moving in great numbers  to the city at the river Spree. Berlin is a modern city but not a mega-city per se. It has still a human scale  to it.  It is a far cry from “Metropolis” the famous film by Fritz Lang. It is a much more laid-back, creative city now than was envisaged during the Twenties.


For me, the journey back will be my tenth one. I always have to catch up  with what has happened. Only in this way can I keep up with its latest development. So, it is  really a trip to the future as I have not experienced the developing city. I’m playing catch-up with the immediate past. Every time I go there a new future is awaiting me.


Last time, four years ago, were there,  we had a good time. This time, we go there with our three surviving children and some grand- and great-grandchildren.


Will they notice the unique Berlin sidewalks? Will they see the bullet holes in the masonry of many buildings? Will they fall over the “Stolpersteine (stepping stones)” let into footpaths to remember the Jewish citizens who have been taken to the extermination camps during the black days of Nazi regime?


Berlin, like no other city, has shaped the 20th century and we are still living in the aftermath of it. I’m a child of the 20th century and all that happened to that city is ingrained into me.  What I know now  made we wary of politicians. When I see or hear  one,  I smell a rat. The next disaster is just around the corner because of them.


When I’m there, I’m fully there and Australia  seems to be a memory only.  This time, it will be summer in all its glory when we get there. Berlin is a green city and most of the streets are tree-lined and the city is surrounded by forests, rivers, and lakes in a landscape shaped by the receding Ice Age twelve thousand years ago.  There will be plenty of opportunities for long walks, outings, river cruises, and to refresh memories.


Some of those memories are three-quarters of a century old. Like we, as children, being banned from the main air raid shelter for being too noisy. Grown-ups, who were afraid of the falling bombs,  could not stand the singing and playing of innocent children. Who would have thought then of the year 2016? That would have been the  far-off future, yet  I’m living in that future now.


People are being made to feel afraid again; this time by politicians who would like to stay in power. If I could speak to the people of the nineteen-forties, I would tell them of the future and how good everything would be. But for us, the people living now, we have new fears. Fears of others and fears of a future of unimaginable heat and rising sea levels. Our present fears  were not even dreamt of  then.


Then we were told, by the politicians of the day, to be afraid of the Bolsheviks and the hordes from the East. Now we are being told to be afraid of asylum seekers, and refugee who come by boats. We are being told that they are illiterate, take our jobs, and they live on welfare. We are being told that the ravages of climate change  are just a load of crap. Climate change does not fit into the electoral cycle.


What would  the people, living then,  have thought of a description of the second decade of the 21st century?  Then we lived at the edge of death from the bombs and starvation. Death was a constant companion. Today we ignore the real problems and indulge in imaginary ones.


What does the future hold for me? The short-term future looks good, as I’m preparing for my trip to Berlin.  The long-term future is promising me a cool grave and a peaceful eternity. For mankind, as a whole, I can’t predict anything. But, I would like to hear from a time traveller how the future is panning out in seventy-five years from now.


















21 thoughts on “Back to the Future

  1. Wishing you a good trip, Peter. You are a time-machine in your own self, and I always find knowledge, experience and compassion in your writings! Bon voyage…

  2. Reblogged this on auntyuta and commented:
    Ja, Berlin ist eine Reise wert. Tenth trip to Berlin. This is quite an achievement, coming all the way from Australia! Best wishes for a good time in Berlin, Peter! Indeed, I am very much looking forward to this trip too.

  3. How wonderful a trip this is promising to be with so many family members. We wish you a wonderful time. I hope you might be able to relate some experiences while in Berlin. You are going into summer and we into a winter. As for the Australian politics, to be away from that would be a rewarding holiday on its own. Even so, I am pleased that the latest poll seems to be in favour of the opposition. Still, a meagre joy in that the difference between the politics of both is still minimal.
    But , enough of all that now. You take care Uta and Peter, and enjoy your well-earned family holiday from both of us.

    • Thank you, Gerard for your well-wishes. I’m sure we will have good time. So many of our family will have a look at the city we have told them so much about.

      I’m not sure that I will be writing a blog while we are there but you should be abe to catch something on FB.

  4. Enjoy your return to Berlin, and leave the fonts and worries of the future behind. Happiness, independent thought, not giving in to unsubstantiated fears used to stop us seeing things much closer to home; this, I feel, is the best way to stop them.

    • Thank you, Anne, for commenting on my post and now following my blog.

      I hope you did not get the impression, from my post, that I’m fearful of the future.

      Since the refugee crisis developed last year there had been a shift in public attitudes in Europe. Foe me going back is like being a timetraveller wo arrives back to his home planet and finds that that the planet is further in the future than he.

      Six years ago, it was the other way around, while we were in Berlin, the Rudd government was replaced and we came back to Australia to a new reality. Strange!

    • oh yes, so many things! like the long walks we used to take in a nearby field that connected Tundla to next railway station, the bugs, birds we used to see there! I have too many memories of that place 🙂

      Some day I will love to spend at least a fortnight there! 🙂

      Briitish as rulers of India? yeah they were horrible, they did some good to the country but lot more bad!

  5. I am in Berlin. We are busy. I haven’t got much time to write a blog. You may be able to see some pictures on FB. I’ll be back in Australia on the 2. June

  6. Peter, I don’t believe life is a race. Quite the opposite! I think many of us do all we can to try to slow down and extend our “ride”. The older we get, the faster our lives seem to move. I remember as a child how slowly the clock moved in school. It seemed like forever to reach 3 o’clock and boredom was a common occurrence. Now life is flying by and there are so many things to do that there simply isn’t time. But I prefer to view my life as one wild ride through limited space and time. The only meaning is in the riding. And, although, there may be many passengers in the same “car”, my perception of the ride is uniquely my own. But, I supply the energy to keep the ride going. And since my energy supply is limited no matter how I try to preserve it, my ride must inevitably come to an end.

    • Robert, I don’t regard life a race either even if I left that impression somewhere else. It is more like an endurance run or ride. And, you are right as a good runner would we are trying to pace ourselves so we get as far as possible.

      Other people regard life as a race and they are constantly trying to get ahead of the others. Perhaps that gives meaning to their lives. We are giving meaning by learning about the world.

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