A scene from the movie “Born in Berlin“ by Joanna Rajkowska


"Born in Berlin - Red Rage“; 2012; © Joanna Rajkowska

Born in Berlin

By Joanna Rajkowska


I decided to give birth to my daughter Rosa in the Charité hospital in Berlin. The city was her first location for contact with the world. For the rest of her life, when asked: “Where were you born?", she will answer: “In Berlin."


I believe that the place of birth has a significant influence over each human being’s fate and their attitude toward it. You return to it like an animal; you think about it in a special way. Rosa will associate Berlin with a life-giving beginning, even though she is not going to remember it. The first breath she drew, the first sounds she produced, her first struggle to overcome an infection—they will always and forever be tied to the city, and nothing will ever change that fact.


Berlin is a special state of mind. It is a city which cannot bear its history, which does all it can to live exclusively in the present, to delight in itself in the incomparable Berlin air and style.


Berlin refuses to be naked, to expose its wounds or its painful side after the years of war, post-war trauma, and the division of the city. It desires to be an important cultural capital, elegant, cold, and modern. To achieve that it uses architecture, art, and sophisticated designs. It is becoming overgrown with fantastic buildings; it displays outstanding artists and presents remarkably attractive designs. Simultaneously, alternative art scenes are continually appearing, which is only a counterpoint to its smooth surface.


If this was the only face of Berlin, it would not be the place for Rosa. However, all my senses tell me that Berlin is unable to deal with itself. Like a middle-aged man, good-looking, well-dressed, but at the same time worn out after years of suffering from a chronic disease that climaxed years back. Exhausted not only by what it has been through, but also with the attempts to verbalize it, the lack of language, the following complications, and the amount of painkillers it needs to take daily. The disease has left wrinkles and bumps. Some parts of its body are totally dead.


Here begins my strong, tough, and unambiguous relationship with the city. I want to see those dead places, I want to touch them. I want Rosa to appear there. Rosa is my response to Berlin. And a gift.

by Joanna Rajkowska

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