Fouad the Welder – Zaatari Refugee Camp – III

September 2013

uwe behrens berlin mordkommissar tatort schauen

Uwe Behrens, homicide detective in Berlin

uwe behrens berlin mordkommissar tatort schauen This is Uwe Behrens. He is a homicide detective with the Berlin Police Department. I had invited him to watch with me “Tatort” – a hugely popular crime series that gets screened every Sunday in German public TV (IchWerdeEinBerliner has got a thorough explanation of this phenomenon.)

Behrens joined the police straight after his A-Levels in October 1987. He was trained and soon started to work in the “fraud”-department. “I did very exciting things such as handling delays in filing bankruptcy petition”, he says ironically. For him this work meant too less of the real police work: getting out, talking to people, interrogating them. “We came with a horde of tax accountants to collect files and binders.” He soon switched departments. Since 20 years he is working now in the homicide department – and there was this one case he could not forget.

He was still a greenhorn in February 1993 as a man walked into a car shop in Berlin, entered the office, drew a shotgun and killed Doris Kirche, an employee at the firm since 25 years. She was an ordinary women in the Mid-Fifties and did impeccable work. Behrens and his colleagues did not know why somebody would shoot her. They looked for evidence, crumbs of clues. They did not find a thing.

“At one point I almost did not care anymore who shot her, I only wanted to know why this women had to die”, he says. Her death made no sense. Five years later they follow a new lead and they can arrest the murderers. Doris Kirche had to die because she did not want to move out of her apartment. Her landlord wanted to charge more rent but he could only do that if she moves out. So, he had her killed. If an episode of Tatort would feature such a plot line people would debunk it as a utter nonsense. But, well, here it is. Sometimes reality is banal.

Uwe Behrens, however, is not a fan of Tatort. He loves the US-show Dexter. It is about a homicide detective who hunts down murderers at daytime and kills other people at night.

john dyke singer songwriter australia melbourne germany dyko berlin

How an Australian became a culture ambassador for Germany

john dyke singer sänger songwriter australia melbourne germany dyko berlin

This is John Dyke. He grew up in Melbourne, Australia and lives now as a singer in Berlin which is nothing special. Berlin is, thankfully, full of musicians. But Dyke is somewhat special because he does not live in Neukölln or Kreuzberg – he bought a house in the middle of the city and lives there now with wife, kids and a garden. And he sings about that life – in German.

It was 20 years ago when he first came here. He worked for the percussion company Sonor. And one day he walked into a bar and ordered a beer. “It was awesome to see that you order a beer in Germany and somebody only draws a line on your beermat to count the number of beers you had. The people trusted each other. Something like that would be unthinkable in England.”

John Dyke fell in love with the country. He stayed and is now something like a culture ambassador of it. The ‘Goethe-Institut’ is dedicated to promote German language and culture in the world and regularly books him for events from Usbekistan to New York.

thomas w. bundeswehr active fence syrien türkei patriot 2013 april

Thomas W.

thomas w. bundeswehr active fence syrien türkei patriot 2013 april

This is Thomas W., technician with the German army. Being part of a Nato-deployment, he was stationed in South Turkey for three months. Look at his shoulders, they tell alot about him – because they are empyty. Thomas W. wears his uniform badge on his breast.

He is a optimistic, funny guy from Hamburg trying to cope with the boredom of this deployment. In the back of the picture you can see the improvised workshop where he and his team tend to the cars and trucks of the German units.

You can read my full (German) report about this Nato-Operation here.

At least some fish

amman, syria, jordan, refugee crisis, flüchtlingskrise, student, portrait, refugee, photo, jordanien, dara, daraa

Azuz just laughed when I stepped into the smoky lobby of a hostel in Amman, Jordan. He made a comment about some actor I supposingly looked similar to. I had to join his laughter. Azuz was that kind of guy you like right from the beginning without knowing why.

He jumped in two large steps to the reception area, handed me a piece of paper to fill in my details. I wrote in the line of nationality “German”, he saw that and talked away. “Hallo, wie gehts? Wo kommst du her?” Berlin, Munich, he talked alot. But no, he has never been to Germany before. He taught that himself. He then conversed with a guy from Peru in Spanish, made a comment to an Italian girl in Italian and answered his phone in Arabic. I expected him in a moment to tell a joke in Suaheli.

Instead he told his story: He came to Jordan seven months ago with 5 Dinar, equalling maybe 8 Dollars, in his pockets. He was a student from Daraa in Syria, the town where the uprising began with a couple of Graffitis on the wall. He joined the first demonstrations. It was awesome, he says, we were strong and we had no fear. But the situation worsened.

Arriving in Amman he asked the supermarkets to give him a job. They gave him one and finally he got the offer to work in an environmental project that does fish research. He happily agreed and works there ever since. He loves that job alot. He did not even bother to attend a job interview with the refugee organisation of the UN he had been invited to.

And that might be a small, good sign. Because at home, in Daraa, he was studying veterinary medicine. His old life continues – at least a little bit.

Read further

Arafat, Doppelgänger, Double, Fatah, Look-A-Like, Mohammed, PLO, Ramallah, Westjordanland-2

Meet Yassir Arafat, eh, Salem Smeirat

Arafat, Doppelgänger, Double, Fatah, Look-A-Like, Mohammed, PLO, Ramallah, Westjordanland-2

This is Salem Smeirat, he usually sells fruits and vegetables on the streets of Ramallah. But one day the Palestinian Minister of Traffic wanted to give him 10.000 Dollars. Because obviously, he has a certain talent. Continue reading “Meet Yassir Arafat, eh, Salem Smeirat”

IDF soldiers block the way for Palstinian Olive farmers near the village of Salem in the West Bank, October 2012 (1) (6)


IDF soldiers block the way for Palstinian Olive farmers in the West Bank, October 2012 (4)

One of the soldiers we encountered at the Olive Tour, caught my attention because he looked like a big boy with a gun. He was born in Chicago and described his job in the West Bank as follows: “I protect the settlers from the Palestinians and the Palestinians from the Settlers.”

Hat Tip: While I was busy taking pictures and keeping my distance Vanessa just started talking to the soldier – and shared his story afterwards. Danke!