Schloss Bellevue draws crowds


Published: September, 2015

Edited: October 12, 2017, 04:27 CET UTC +02:00


Berlin, Sept. 12, 2015: A once-yearly event held at the Schloss Bellevue, the official residence in Berlin of the Federal President, Joachim Gauck, saw hundreds of people queue for entrance on this late summer day in the capital of Germany. (1. galerie)


The castle, built in the late eighteenth century, has strong neo-classical lines and sits in landscaped grounds and gardens near the River Spree, positioned with vantage points to view over Charlottenburg and various other areas. Originally, this castle was in the country - not the city. In 1994 (before the fall of the Berlin Wall) this castle was the offical residence of the Federal President. (2.)


The flag flies when the President is in residence here (3.), or in other places in Germany, but not when he is out of the country, or if in the Bonn residence.


Schloss Bellevue was built in 1785 by Prince Ferdinand of Prussia, and included various guests such as Napoleon, and Alexander Humbolt (a foundation established in Germany: the Alexander Humbolt foundation).


Various tents serve as stands for the companies' promotions. One is demonstrating some sort of politics and when asked 'What does your organization do; what do you do?' They say it: 'promotes democracy', and on further questionning explain they are 'promoting a democratic organization that is connected to the Interior Ministry, but is independent, and formed after World War Two'. A magazine is on display. 'Info aktuell' (bpb).  It celebrates 50 years of diplomatic relations between Germany and Israel, it says, and is published by Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (bpb). There are hundreds of people outside the castle in the queue to see the various displays and the castle.  'How many were here last year?'  They cannot remember.


There are various collections of stands, wine, food, tables, people in suits, casual, formal, and, in the background, the castle, surrounded by mown lawns, flowers, archways, and the public - the only day for their entry here this year. Further on, a stand that displays phamplets for refugee aid, including information for young refugees. The information is in English, German, French, Spanish and Portuguese, offering assistance from CV-application advice to German language teaching and integration courses.


Then, software, German-made software, that is newly begun at the beginning of 2015, the demonstrator says - a government website designed to make it easier for government and public to move around the various German government sites. It is able to be viewed online, and still in the stage of continuing development. It uses open source technology, says the demonstrator, a project manager of Fraunhofer Fokus (Fraunhofer-Institut für Offene Kommunikationssysteme).


At the entrance to the event are the official printed information leaflets and booklets that describe the event, most in German, one in English. In the English edition are images showing the residence of the Federal President: colorful, and including war history scenes, the interior of the castle, meetings between the President and visitors, ambassador events, photos, speeches, ceremony gun salutes, presentations ... another phamplet says: 'Jede politische ist auch menschenrechtspolitik' (or 'Every policy is also human rights policy'). It contains speeches, written by the Federal President, on the theme of human rights.


Outside at the gates the German police (4.) continue to stand, allowing entrance to the event. Dozens of companies are displaying their products here, and listed are partners and companies such as Bertlesmann Stiftung, Volkswagon AG, Daimler, Lotto deutschland, Deutsch Bahn stiftung, as well as embassies such as that of Malta, and the Israel Embassy (Botschaft des Staats Israel), embassy. There are about 32 food cafes and 12 drink stands (weine aus Israel, mineralwasser..). The wine is a give- away, by German standards : '1.50 euro, 2 euro for a glass '...says one.  The time is now around four-to-six pm. The gardens show long shadows, light sits unevenly over the castle (5.), and a band is starting to play.


A crowd is drawing to the band (6.) which is set up near the palace lake. People are milling around, some seated (7.) some watching from the back with glasses drinking wine (8.). To the left the calm water of the lake, and what seem like waterlillies. The stage lights flash red and blue. The seated crowd watches the stage, claps. A few dance.


'Berlin', says the singer.


Behind, the sound people (9). The often so-unappreciated and tireless technicians of music.


'Berlin' says the singer.


The event is due to finish. Some are leaving, but most remain, listening to the final songs.



Katrina Wood/















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