Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Hamburg Is Ugly

 

I just returned from a trip to Hamburg and Berlin, and I was shocked at the amount of graffiti on the walls. I was so shocked that I couldn’t help commenting on it, multiple times, to my dear wife Marie, who finally became a bit testy. (“Kent, can we please move on past the subject of the graffiti.”) Here’s what it looks like:

It was everywhere: on the facades of small businesses, on the walls of public buildings, on mailboxes and street light poles. Everywhere. Here’s another example, and not a rare one.

It isn’t even clever or artistic graffiti, like the wall art of Banksy or Horfe. (By the way, Banksy and Horfe are clever, but they are also criminal vandals. I’m a big fan of private property rights.) No, almost all of it seems to have been done by street kids with even fewer brains than talent.

A small percentage of the graffiti is done by those who fancy themselves anarchists or communists. These “activists” seem to be fond of sticker graffiti on posts, railings, and an occasional blank wall, like the following.

I suspect that these so-called anarchists and communists are merely Dummkopfs who have attached themselves to a hip cause. Being an anarchist vandal is probably a lot more fun than being a mere dunderhead. (“Ja, Oskar, Ich struck another blow against die damn capitalists by scrawling mein name on ein Gastehaus die Amerikans namen Kentucky Fried Chicken.”)

Owning an upscale shop in the fancy part of town is no guarantee of a graffiti-free shopfront. Here’s what the “street artists” did to deface the facade of an expensive dress shop in Berlin, just off Unter den Linden.

I would hate to be a small businessman in Hamburg or Berlin. If the civic authorities won’t do anything about the graffiti, there is probably nothing to be done. Actually, the authorities have let it go too far. There are thousands of storefronts and public buildings covered with graffiti, and now the task of cleaning it up seems almost impossible.

Here’s some more street art for you to contemplate. The photo below is a shot taken of a public site on an otherwise handsome street bordering the Elbe river in Hamburg.

And here’s what once might have been a nice apartment building.

Finally, here is some graffiti on a major streetcar route in Berlin.

I was stationed in Germany 60 years ago and there was nothing like this.

I could have shown hundreds of similar examples. But I’ll leave it there. What do you think of all this? Is there a solution? Is it possible to clean up this mess? Are you as shocked as I am?

Is this the result of some kind of social dysfunction? Or is it the result of government inaction similar to their inaction in stopping the flow of immigrants into Germany. Has Germany given up on building a functional and pleasant society?

Is there anything like it where you live? A few weeks ago, I walked around New York City, which used to be the graffiti capital of America, and I didn’t see anything like the mess I saw in Hamburg and Berlin.

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  1. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester

    Sorry about the blank spaces. When I try to edit the post, the blank spaces disappear. So I can’t seem to do anything about them. Arahant probably knows what to do.

    • #1
    • June 2, 2018, at 3:23 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  2. Hoyacon Member

    I was in Brooklyn a short while ago, and, in many instances, spent time trying to figure out how the “artists” (i.e., vandals) were able to get where they did. I had visions of a ladder of about six-seven people, feet on shoulders, with one carrying spray paint on top. Lots of it in Brooklyn.

    • #2
    • June 2, 2018, at 3:33 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  3. Matt Bartle Member
    Matt Bartle Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I was in Bologna Italy a couple of years back and had the same reaction- graffiti everywhere!

     

    • #3
    • June 2, 2018, at 3:44 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  4. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    Germany was not like that before or immediately after the wall came down. Alles muss im Ordnung! Everything must be in order! Those were the watchwords that always came to American troops’ lips when commenting on Germans’ attitudes.

    • #4
    • June 2, 2018, at 3:46 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  5. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    I was in Brooklyn a short while ago, and, in many instances, spent time trying to figure out how the “artists” (i.e., vandals) were able to get where they did. I had visions of a ladder of about six-seven people, feet on shoulders, with one carrying spray paint on top. Lots of it in Brooklyn.

    Hoyacon, was it anything like the examples I’ve shown here—or the sheer amount of the graffiti that I’ve mentioned? I’d hate for the German neglect of their buildings happen here. 

    • #5
    • June 2, 2018, at 3:49 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  6. Hoyacon Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    I was in Brooklyn a short while ago, and, in many instances, spent time trying to figure out how the “artists” (i.e., vandals) were able to get where they did. I had visions of a ladder of about six-seven people, feet on shoulders, with one carrying spray paint on top. Lots of it in Brooklyn.

    Hoyacon, was it anything like the examples I’ve shown here—or the sheer amount of the graffiti that I’ve mentioned? I’d hate for the German neglect of their buildings happen here.

    One or two of your examples are more extreme than anything that I saw, but there are similarities. The German shots are more colorful–I think it’s gotten difficult to get spray paint here, so that’s reduced the color palette.

     

    • #6
    • June 2, 2018, at 3:56 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  7. Bishop Wash Member

    The one extreme position I have for those “If you were king for a day” thought experiments is that vandalism would be a capital offense. Like you I’m a fan of private property rights and graffiti is so ugly.

    • #7
    • June 2, 2018, at 4:15 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  8. Profile Photo Member

    Is this the result of some kind of social disfunction?

     

    I think the social dysfunction is why we see Muslims taking over and the police hiding the facts. It is one version of the suicide of the west.

    There is also the observation that pheasants all run in South Dakota. The flyers got shot years ago and did not breed. I think we see that in Europe. Maybe Russia, too.

    • #8
    • June 2, 2018, at 4:39 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  9. Kozak Member
    Kozak Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    As the Mayor of London would tell you ‘ just part of living in a vibrant, big city with a diverse population”.

    Personally I would make it a public flogging offense. 

    • #9
    • June 2, 2018, at 5:38 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  10. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Kozak (View Comment):

    As the Mayor of London would tell you ‘ just part of living in a vibrant, big city with a diverse population”.

    Personally I would make it a public flogging offense.

    Yeah, there ain’t much graffiti in Taiwan when caning is the consequence.

    • #10
    • June 2, 2018, at 5:44 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  11. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester

    Jimmy Carter (View Comment):

    Kozak (View Comment):

    As the Mayor of London would tell you ‘ just part of living in a vibrant, big city with a diverse population”.

    Personally I would make it a public flogging offense.

    Yeah, there ain’t much graffiti in Taiwan when caning is the consequence.

    Mr Carter, I can’t tell if you are being ironic or not. 

    Kent

    • #11
    • June 2, 2018, at 6:01 PM PDT
    • Like
  12. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge

    This reminds me of New York back in the 70s / 80s. Welcome to what happens when the liberals are in charge and law and order steps back. This is a perfect example of the broken window in action. If a government can not be bothered to take care of the small crimes then bigger ones will also be ignored. Eventually you end up with flight of the middle class as it tries to get away from the crime and the lower / criminal class takes over the abandoned areas. It will be interesting to see if these areas find law and order again or continue down this path.

    • #12
    • June 2, 2018, at 6:12 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  13. Housebroken Thatcher

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Jimmy Carter (View Comment):

    Kozak (View Comment):

    As the Mayor of London would tell you ‘ just part of living in a vibrant, big city with a diverse population”.

    Personally I would make it a public flogging offense.

    Yeah, there ain’t much graffiti in Taiwan when caning is the consequence.

    Mr Carter, I can’t tell if you are being ironic or not.

    Kent

    When I was in Singapore I saw no graffiti, and never stepped on chewing gum either. Don’t remember any in Taiwan either, but that may have been before graffiti was invented.

    • #13
    • June 2, 2018, at 7:02 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  14. Front Seat Cat Member

    Ken – Yes I am completely shocked- just the few pictures you show are outrageous – was it like that everywhere?? I think you are on target with your analogy – social dysfunction and failure by authorities to do something about it. I’m not sure immigrants would be that bold – it looks more like homegrown misfits. Was this your first time back since your service days? Were these impoverished areas ?

    Also I don’t know how you can find a way to see humor in such an ugly problem, but I was laughing out loud at your improv: “Ja Oscar – die Amerikans Kentucky Fried Chicken” – Hilarious!! I hope you found Bob a cute souvenir – a spray painted rubber fire hydrant?

    • #14
    • June 2, 2018, at 7:20 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  15. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    Ken – Yes I am completely shocked- just the few pictures you show are outrageous – was it like that everywhere?? I think you are on target with your analogy – social dysfunction and failure by authorities to do something about it. I’m not sure immigrants would be that bold – it looks more like homegrown misfits. Was this your first time back since your service days? Were these impoverished areas ?

    Also I don’t know how you can find a way to see humor in such an ugly problem, but I was laughing out loud at your improv: “Ja Oscar – die Amerikans Kentucky Fried Chicken” – Hilarious!! I hope you found Bob a cute souvenir – a spray painted rubber fire hydrant?

    Ms. Cat, the phenomenon was widespread—though particularly egregious in Hamburg. Some areas were worse than others, but almost everywhere we went, we saw graffiti. I did miss Bob a lot. I gave one woman a dollar if she would let me play for a few minutes with her dog, who looked a lot like Bob. She accepted my offer, so I immediately flipped over the dog to rub his belly. Both the dog and I got a lot of satisfaction out of that. 

    Kent

     

    • #15
    • June 2, 2018, at 7:45 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  16. The Reticulator Member

    I get more disturbed over another type of vandal: the ones who place rumble strips along the edge of the road and force me to ride in a more dangerous position. There are federal guidelines for highways which receive federal funding which, if followed, would make this practice acceptable, and even welcome. But there are jurisdictions in which those guidelines are not followed.

    As to graffiti, I would not have expected it in the Soviet Union except perhaps in its last decade. And I would not have expected it in Germany, but for different reasons.

    • #16
    • June 2, 2018, at 7:52 PM PDT
    • Like
  17. TGR9898 Coolidge

    I suspect it has a lot to do with a complete disrespect of property rights. Owning real estate is a very American thing to do – far fewer people in Europe ever own a house or business. When you only rent your home – and most of your friends don’t either – there’s little to be gained by protecting or improving “someone else’s” property.

    This phenomenon of neglect is very common in public housing here in the US, too.

    • #17
    • June 2, 2018, at 8:20 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  18. Roberto, Crusty Old Timer LLC Member
    Roberto, Crusty Old Timer LLC Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    KentForrester: Are you as shocked as I am?

    Yes, that is all rather striking. Not at all what I would expect from a first world nation, we certainly have terrible parts here in the US that need to be fixed but still those pictures are surprising. Not at all what I would expect in Germany. 

    • #18
    • June 2, 2018, at 9:37 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  19. Kozak Member
    Kozak Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Chuckles (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Jimmy Carter (View Comment):

    Kozak (View Comment):

    As the Mayor of London would tell you ‘ just part of living in a vibrant, big city with a diverse population”.

    Personally I would make it a public flogging offense.

    Yeah, there ain’t much graffiti in Taiwan when caning is the consequence.

    Mr Carter, I can’t tell if you are being ironic or not.

    Kent

    When I was in Singapore I saw no graffiti, and never stepped on chewing gum either. Don’t remember any in Taiwan either, but that may have been before graffiti was invented.

    They’ve found graffiti in Pompei …

    • #19
    • June 2, 2018, at 11:27 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  20. Front Seat Cat Member

    Kozak (View Comment):

    Chuckles (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Jimmy Carter (View Comment):

    Kozak (View Comment):

    As the Mayor of London would tell you ‘ just part of living in a vibrant, big city with a diverse population”.

    Personally I would make it a public flogging offense.

    Yeah, there ain’t much graffiti in Taiwan when caning is the consequence.

    Mr Carter, I can’t tell if you are being ironic or not.

    Kent

    When I was in Singapore I saw no graffiti, and never stepped on chewing gum either. Don’t remember any in Taiwan either, but that may have been before graffiti was invented.

    They’ve found graffiti in Pompei …

    And then look what happened…..

    • #20
    • June 3, 2018, at 5:51 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  21. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Awful. Very little graffiti out here in the sticks. Think most people out here either have jobs, or they were brought up to believe that defacing other people’s property was not a nice thing to do. What a concept.

    • #21
    • June 3, 2018, at 7:01 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  22. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester

    She (View Comment):

    Awful. Very little graffiti out here in the sticks. Think most people out here either have jobs, or they were brought up to believe that defacing other people’s property was not a nice thing to do. What a concept.

    She, like you, I was appalled by the disregard for other people’s property. Graffiti is, in effect, theft. It steals part of the value of a piece of property, and no one seems to care much about it. Hamburg in particular, but also parts of Berlin, looked like a civilization in decline.

    Kent

    • #22
    • June 3, 2018, at 7:16 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  23. Profile Photo Member

    TedRudolph (View Comment):
    I suspect it has a lot to do with a complete disrespect of property rights. Owning real estate is a very American thing to do

    Yes. I think that is a real factor, in addition to the fact that house prices are sky high so only the “rich” would own a house.

    • #23
    • June 3, 2018, at 7:33 AM PDT
    • Like
  24. Hang On Member
    Hang On Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Sorry, but German graffiti is nothing new.

    Image result for 1930s german graffiti

    And the Berlin Wall was covered in it:

    Image result for 1930s german graffiti

    • #24
    • June 3, 2018, at 8:00 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  25. MarciN Member

    Vandalism has always bothered me tremendously.

    When I was kid, my town built a new elementary school. It was beautiful. It wasn’t a bare bones ugly cement-block building like new schools are today. This school was built for kids to enjoy. The playground alone was gorgeous. Every classroom had huge windows. The school was built in a woodsy area, and the kids could enjoy the woodland scenes while sitting in their classrooms.

    In addition to the formal driveway to the elegant front doors of the school, there were paths through the woods from two directions, connecting to the neighborhoods in the area, so all the kids could walk to school. No one would do this today, and perhaps they shouldn’t. Kid-safe neighborhoods were the ultimate luxury the boomers grew up with.

    At any rate, one morning I was coming through the wooded path to the side of the school. As I approached the school and could see it, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The classroom windows had been broken, and there was glass everywhere. There was black-painted graffiti on the outside walls. That’s all I remember specifically–it was just a huge mess. Police everywhere. I thought my little eight-year-old heart would break. I loved our school.

    To this day, I get very upset over vandalism. I can almost understand stealing things. But there is no part of me that understands destroying things, destroying other people’s work.

    • #25
    • June 3, 2018, at 8:22 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  26. Bruce Caward Thatcher
    Bruce Caward Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    We rode our bikes across Austria a few years ago, and my greatest memory was how incredibly neat and tidy everything was. It was remarkable – every house, every farm even, painted and mowed to perfection.

    I mentioned it to my German friend here, and he said only half joking that that was why he left – it may look nice for tourists but it’s hell to live with. If you don’t paint your house every year your neighbors come by to make sure you’re not sick. Or to bring you some paint brushes in case the problem was that you didn’t have one.

    I am so surprised that Germans tolerate this.

    I am heading for a bike trip in Dusseldorf and Frankfort in a month, I’ll let you know if it’s all over Germany.

    (All over for Germany?)

    • #26
    • June 3, 2018, at 8:56 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  27. The Reticulator Member

    MarciN (View Comment):
    To this day, I get very upset over vandalism. I can almost understand stealing things. But there is no part of me that understands destroying things, destroying other people’s work.

    Maybe it’s the same mentality that enjoys burning up extra fossil fuels just to get in the face of environmentalists. 

    • #27
    • June 3, 2018, at 8:58 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  28. Stad Thatcher

    I wish people would stop calling it “art”, and use it’s true name – “eyesore”.

    People caught making graffiti should be made to clean walls, buildings, railroad cars – whatever is covered with the garbage – every day for the following month, during all daylight hours.

    • #28
    • June 3, 2018, at 9:42 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  29. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester

    Stad (View Comment):

    I wish people would stop calling it “art”, and use it’s true name – “eyesore”.

    People caught making graffiti should be made to clean walls, buildings, railroad cars – whatever is covered with the garbage – every day for the following month, during all daylight hours.

    Star, I agree. I was starting to use ironic quote marks so much that I finally gave up. I think I’ll go back and change my title. 

    I also agree that some kind of drastic punishment should be put into place. The problem is, it’s very hard to catch the defacers.

    Kent

    • #29
    • June 3, 2018, at 9:53 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  30. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    This is as bad as a rundown neighborhood in Chicago. Really shocking.

    • #30
    • June 3, 2018, at 9:56 AM PDT
    • 1 like

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