Is Berlin drowning in its own filth?

It pains me to have to ask the question but a few things have happened in recent days (and before that if I’m honest) that really make me wonder.

Take yesterday, for example. I was on my way to the supermarket at around 3 p.m. I was just approaching it when I noticed a man sitting on the street, yelling at the top of his voice, and smashing beer bottles on the ground beside him. Now, people drinking beer in public at all hours of the day and night, broken glass and random shouters are nothing out of the ordinary in Berlin – though I did think it a little wasteful that he was smashing full bottles.

It was around then that a bottle whizzed past my head and smashed against the supermarket wall. I can’t know if he was aiming at me or if he just fancied a more challenging throw but I wasn’t sticking around to find out. I ran, the sound of another beer bottle exploding into smithereens just behind me ringing in my ears.

I hightailed it into the supermarket, which was, luckily, practically empty. I walked over to the cashier.

Me: There’s a crazy man outside throwing beer bottles at the wall. 

Him: What? 

Me: There’s a crazy man outside throwing beer bottles at the wall. 

Him: What’s he doing? 

Admittedly, I was a bit shaken so my German was probably a little hairy.

Me: He’s throwing bottles against the wall. It’s very dangerous for customers. 

That got his attention so he went outside to investigate. I pointed out the man who could have brained me but it turned out I didn’t really need to; a small crowd had gathered and another man was already calling the police. I decided there was nothing else for me to do but carry on with my shopping – now that I still had a head, it would be necessary for me to eat again at some point.

The (rather young and sexy) police showed up just as I was waiting at the cash register and it was all super-dramatic – which way did he go? What does he look like? A description being shouted back, the cops running (sexily) back out the door and peeling off in their waiting van as more sirens got closer.

As I left, I noticed that the man who’d called the police was bleeding quite heavily from one of his legs so I felt even more fortunate that I’d avoided being hit. I have no idea if the police caught him but I learned that the supermarket has cameras on its tills and he’d bought the crate of beer there, so there’s a good chance they’ll nail him. Good thing too – from what I’ve seen, that man has no place on the streets.

Of course, this is the sort of idiot that you can call the police on. But there are plenty more people out there who do their best to foul up Berlin for the rest of us. They range from the totally oblivious (morons on mobiles, for instance) to the “I’m so cool and awesome that normal rules of behaviour don’t apply to me” – yeah, I’m looking at you, gobshite who popped the cap off your beer bottle on the train today and hit me in the back with it. GOBSHITE.

However, it takes a special kind of asshole (two of them actually) to carry a sofa loaded with plastic sacks full of twigs and branches – don’t ask me why – throw the sacks over a wall and dump the sofa on the side of the street, as was witnessed by me and Manfredas from our balcony two nights ago.

FUC is right.

And while you might think that these guys are an exception, unfortunately that’s not true. Berlin has perfectly good dumps and, if you can’t make it there, you can arrange an appointment for the BSR to come and pick up your unwanted crap. Of course, you have to pay for this and that’s the problem – too many people in Berlin don’t want to pay for anything and would rather turn the city into their own personal dumping ground than do so.

I took these photos on a five-minute walk to the bakery this morning. And that was just one side of the street.

As this post has got a bit rantier than I’d intended, I’ll wrap it up by saying that I still love this city. I really do. There are freedoms afforded to people in Berlin that should never be taken for granted – the freedom to go wherever you want, to be whoever you want to be, and to do whatever you want (within reason).

The thing about freedom is that, with it, comes responsibility and that is what I’m noticing more and more these days. So many people just don’t want to take responsibility for anything – and have zero respect for other people or their surroundings.

If I’ve come across as a sanctimonious dipshit in this post then I’m sorry, but I really don’t think that a little accountability is too much to ask for.

Over and out.

24 thoughts on “Is Berlin drowning in its own filth?”

  1. You’re 100% in the right. I am really shocked when I see this in Europe, ESPECIALLY in Germany or northern Europe. For decades, when we’d see this kind of thing back in the USSR/ “early” Russia, we’d all complain about what an awful country we live in, so unlike Europe, where people NEVER behave this way, and the streets are so clean and nice-smelling that you can eat off of them (this is not even hyperbole). Then I started traveling and it started breaking my heart.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I know what you mean. I love Berlin and its quirks but this isn’t quirk – it’s just trash and trashy attitudes. Unless someone takes this sofa (unlikely from the state of it), it will sit there for weeks. The BSR can only do so much. You can rent a van here from around €4.50 an hour which is much cheaper than calling the BSR so there’s really no excuse for it. The city is swamped in this kind of crap. There seems to be a collective “Meh, someone else will take care of it” attitude. SAD 😉


  2. Rant away. If someone doesn’t want to pay to have their shit removed, then they should take it to the dump themselves. One or the other. Leaving one’s shit–literally or figuratively–in a public area is not an option. The US has the same, and in some areas, worse problem. I see litter and trash all over the place where I live and work. Dog shit on sidewalks. It’s like people live in their own little bubble and only see what they want to see, and they don’t give a rat’s ass for how their trashy behavior affects others. It’s really sad because it turns an otherwise lovely place into an eyesore. Ugh … guess I better stop here 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ha, don’t stop on my account! I totally agree! The neighbourhood that we live in is really lovely which is not reflected in these photos – we have several beautiful parks within walking/cycling distance, loads of nice cafes and bars, and I’m sure that the majority of people are great. Problem is that it’s not evidence of the great people that you see on the streets! Shame that a few ruin it for the many. And I know it’s not just a Berlin problem – just sad to see where I live being treated like this… I still feel so grateful to live here and I wish other people appreciated it as much as I do 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Your neighborhood sounds wonderful! Mine is definitely going downhill. We’ve lived here since 1991. It used to be quieter and more tidy but now a lot of the properties are rentals and people (including neighbors) speed through all the time. Over here, people seem to take a lot for granted and they seem too focused on their cell phones to take much notice of their surroundings.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh god, don’t even get me started on people and their cell phones! I watched a young couple out for dinner on Sunday night gazing at their phones instead of each other. So romantic 😉 There are definitely a lot of renters here too, and a lot of younger people and foreigners so I guess the rules (!) change with that. A student of mine told me that her Brazilian neighbour threw his old sofa off his second-floor balcony “because that’s how they do it in Brazil…” Sigh.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Urgh. It can be kind of cool when people leave good furniture on the street to allow it to find a new home. This is totally different though. None of the items you photographed look useful.

    I have never understood why people think it’s okay to dump things in the street…but then I think it is even worse when people dump rubbish in the wilderness. 😦

    We’ve started to carry an extra rubbish bag on our hikes to remove the litter left by cockwombles that think it’s okay to drop plastic wherever they go! *all the sighs*

    Liked by 3 people

    1. All the sighs with you! Leave nothing behind but footprints 🙂 And I am so sorry that I did not know the word cockwomble before I wrote this post as it definitely would have featured ha ha! Brilliant!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Heh! Maybe they are getting popular again!? My sister’s village has a scarecrow competition each year (the winner gets to be the the guy on bonfire night)

          This year my sister’s family scarecrow is a womble!

          Liked by 2 people

    1. Yep, you can say that again. Once, I was on the S-Bahn and we got delayed for 10 minutes between stations. A drunk guy tried to force the doors open and then pissed into his beer bottle before nicely placing it on the floor where it could roll around the carriage between unsuspecting passengers’ feet. If finding behaviour like that unacceptable makes me a Spiesser, then I’m happy to be one 😉


Let me know what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s