ACTIVITIES FOR THE LITTLE ONESChildren’s Corner
Bowie’s Berlin Experience
Berlin Through Bowie’s Songs
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Berlin: A Centre of Attention
A lot of British musicians came to Berlin in the second half of the 20th century. One of them was the famous British singer, David Bowie. In some of his songs he refers to Berlin and emphasizes its freedom.
That is why we offer three songs for you to listen to and choose one to write a short story about. You can ﬁnd the tasks below a short introduction to the song. Enjoy!
“We can be heroes!”
– David Bowie
David Bowie lived in Berlin from 1976 to 1979. He released three great albums in these three years, and many of the songs from his Berlin Trilogy are still very iconic. He is among the most famous people that lived in Berlin! He was also a hero, a dreamer and an artist!
Write a short story using these three steps:
- Your thoughts – Tell us what you think!
- Your experiences – Share your experiences with us!
- Your dreams – What are your dreams?
Your ideas are important – share them with us.
“Berlin, the greatest cultural extravaganza that one could imagine.”¹
– David Bowie
In his song Heroes the theme of freedom is very signiﬁcant. It’s about overcoming boundaries and separation. Bowie encourages us, as listeners to become heroes ourselves singing “We can be heroes”. So, what do you think about being a hero? Who can be a hero? Does a hero give freedom to other people? Write a small story answering these questions. The more ideas about heroes, the better!
Yassassin is another song from Bowie’s Berlin years. The word and the title of the song “yassassin” means “hurray, hallelujah, long live” in Turkish. And one day Bowie saw this word on a wall, the very same day he wrote this song.² A very multicultural life as in Berlin was inspiring to Bowie as it is still now to many people. Today, there are people from more than 150 countries in Berlin.³ That means you can learn about more than 150 cultures in this city! Do you think our society should be multicultural? Why? Have you had any contact with other cultures? What did you ﬁnd interesting about it?
3. Where Are We Now?
Although it’s not a song from Bowie’s Berlin era, the background and the setting of this song is Berlin. In the song he takes a small journey in Berlin from Potsdamer Platz to another part of the city. He touches upon the theme of hope with lyrics like “as long as there’s sun/…/as long as there’s me/as long as there’s you.” What do you think about hope? Is it important to have it? Or is it easier to give up? The examples from your life are very welcome! When did hope for something help you?
Let’s take a little journey back in time
In this video we will take a look at the history of British people in Berlin. We will explain why many British people came to Berlin in the 1920s, what changed during the separation after World War II and why Berlin is still interesting for Britons today.
Design your own paper dolls inspired by the fashion of the “New Woman”
What do we mean when we are talking about “the new woman”?
During the Weimar Republic, a large majority of women benefited from the shift in gender roles and enjoyed more individuality and freedom than in the years before.
Prior to the First World War, the German Empire was still characterized by the traditional image of women who had to take care of the household and family. This image then changed at the end of the monarchy with the beginning of the Weimar Republic. Suddenly, there was the “new woman“, that presented herself with her short haircut (Bubikopf), short dress, smoking in public domain and with great interest in cinema, culture and consumption.
“The media portrayed the New Woman as slim and sporty, self-confident, androgynous and fashionable.”
In 1918, under the Weimar Constitution, women were first granted the right to vote. But did that mean equal rights to men in total? The short answer: no. But the Golden Twenties were initially an important step in the direction of modern gender roles.
During the First World War, women had to take up male-dominated jobs to keep up the economy and the nation, while the men were off fighting on the frontline. The women gained a fair amount of autonomy during the absence of their husbands and were not willingly handing this over, when the soldiers returned. Going back to the traditional relation between the sexes was not as simple any more, even though many still held on to old behavioural patterns and clear separation of male and female domains.⁴
Along with the 1920s came the American model of femininity to Germany, which was further influenced by the Hollywood film. In the USA, this type of woman was also known as flapper girl. She stood out for her androgynous appearance (not distinctly masculine or feminine in appearance or in behaviour) and her open and active character. She preferred work over a traditional role as mother and housewife, which was expected of her.⁵
When referring to the young generation of women during the Weimar Republic, one cannot look past the concept of the “New Women”. She was famous for her “recklessness and determination.“⁶ She had a distinctive cylindrical figure and for the first time in history her skirt length shortened to the knees. The media portrayed the modern woman as slim and sporty, self-confident, androgynous and fashionable.⁷
Your creativity as a fashion designer is needed now!
How would you design your “New Woman”? Below you can find a paper doll with typical clothing from the 1920s.
- Save and print the image. You may colour it now or later.
- Cut along the heavy dark lines.
- Print or glue on cardboard.
- Place the clothes you have cut out on the doll and fold the “wings” on the sides of the clothes so that you can attach it to the back of the doll.
- If not done already, you can now colour the clothes and doll or decorate them with other things like feathers, palliettes or little pearls.
! Let an adult help you and please use glue and scissors sparingly and carefully !
You can also dress a paper doll with clothes from modern times. After 100 years, women in our society have not only been given more rights, which in the broadest sense of the word now gives them independence from a man, but also the style of clothing and fashion has changed over this long period.
Do you notice anything about the clothes? How does it differ from the clothing of 100 years ago?
You can find the German version here.
1 “Awesome Quotes about Berlin”, Eco Conscious Traveller, March 9, 2019. https://www.ecoconscioustraveller.org/awesome-quotes-about-berlin/.; 2 Pegg, Nicholas. The Complete David Bowie. 2018. p.12982.; 3 “Statistischer Bericht: Einwohnerinnen und Einwohner im Land Berlin am 31. Dezember 2019”. 2019. Amt für Statistik Berlin-Brandenburg. pp. 4, 3 10, 13, 18–22.; 4 Schüller, Liane. Vom Ernst der Zerstreuung: schreibende Frauen am Ende der Weimarer Republik: Marieluise Fleißer, Irmgard Keun und Gabriele Tergit. Bielefeld: Aisthesis-Verlag, 2005, 20.; 5 Bescansa Leirós, Carme. Gender- und Machttransgression im Romanwerk Irmgard Keuns: eine Untersuchung aus der Perspektive der Gender Studies. St. Ingbert: Röhrig, 2007, 68-69.; 6 Weitz, Eric. Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy. Princeton, N.J. [u.a.]: Princeton Univ. Press, 2007, 56.; Schüller 52.
Figure 1: David Bowie Streetart © Unsplash
Figure 2: We Can Be Heroes © Unsplash
Figure 3: Greetings from Berlin © Unsplash
Figure 4: Soap Bubbles at the Brandenburger Gate © Unsplash
“Awesome Quotes about Berlin”, Eco Conscious Traveller, March 9, 2019. URL: https://www.ecoconscioustraveller.org/awesome-quotes-about-berlin/; Pegg, Nicholas. The Complete David Bowie. 2018. p.12982; “Statistischer Bericht: Einwohnerinnen und Einwohner im Land Berlin am 31. Dezember 2019”. 2019. Amt für Statistik Berlin-Brandenburg. pp. 4, 3 10, 13, 18–22; Schüller, Liane. Vom Ernst der Zerstreuung: schreibende Frauen am Ende der Weimarer Republik: Marieluise Fleißer, Irmgard Keun und Gabriele Tergit. Bielefeld: Aisthesis-Verlag, 2005, 20; Bescansa Leirós, Carme. Gender- und Machttransgression im Romanwerk Irmgard Keuns: eine Untersuchung aus der Perspektive der Gender Studies. St. Ingbert: Röhrig, 2007, 68-69; Weitz, Eric. Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy. Princeton, N.J. [u.a.]: Princeton Univ. Press, 2007, 56.