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Berlin: The Strange Place We Do Not Know

Berlin does not necessarily equal Berlin. Its descriptions definitely vary a lot. As it turns out, Berlin is actually everywhere.

Berlin is a ghost town. Established in 1897, it was supposed to prosper as a gold and silver mining location in Nye County, Nevada (see main photo above). The problem was that it never did. Today, Berlin is a tourist magnet. This latter aspect does sound familiar indeed, because that is exactly what the original Berlin is.

Raising Cattle in Berlin

But Berlin, Nevada, does not have a TV tower, a Red City Hall or an unfinished airport. It features a few wooden houses only, and some classic car wrecks standing around between them. This Berlin was abandoned 109 years ago, in 1911. Today’s historic sightseeing spot has something else the big Berlin in Germany does not have, namely real mountains in its vicinity.

O.k., let’s get to the right Berlin. This place must have a diner somewhere, where you can have hotcakes with syrup for breakfast and a real Hamburger with all the trimmings you want for lunch. It probably has a traffic light or two. Berlin, with a population of around 3000 people, is just the right place for the Bee Gees. Their song ‘Massachusetts’ will tell you exactly where you are.

Berlin, Massachusetts, looks like it is a better place than the big Berlin on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Photo: Aviva Luttrell

In this Berlin, they are raising cattle and chickens. It is not exactly a party town, like the original Berlin. This is where people go to bed early and get up when the rooster next door wants them to. Oh yes, Berlin does have an elementary school, baseball and soccer groups as well as girl and boy scouts. Also the breathing air is a lot better up there than in the original Berlin overseas.

Mess on Main Street

Berlin, Massachusetts, does have a Memorial Hall for the war dead, including soldiers who fought in World War II, meaning Berlin fought against the Nazis whose capital was the original Berlin. Berliners from Massachusetts gave their lives for freedom in Europe.

The next Berlin we are looking at obviously has something in common with Berlin in eastern Germany, namely its traffic and a lack of parking spots. In Berlin, Ohio, the tourists who come here cause a mess on the main street, judging from the photograph below. Regarding the number of inhabitants, there is a slight difference between Berlin and Berlin. The one in Ohio has less than 1000 residents, while the one in Germany has 3.7 million.

Berlin, Ohio, is located “in the heart of Amish country”. The village obviously has a parking space problem, just like the original Berlin. Photo: S. Clyde

Berlin in Holmes County, Ohio, was established in 1816 by John Swigert from the original Berlin and Joseph Troyer from Berlin, Pennsylvania. We have not even gotten to that one. But that is what it says on the ‘Heart of Amish Country’ website, the name of which already tells us what kind of Berlin we are dealing with.

A Sleepy Place Called Berlin

As it turns out, Berlin is in the center of Ohio’s largest Amish community with far more than 50,000 members. Better get your kicks on Route 62 in order to get there. Talking to the Amish in German is a lasting experience, as the author of these lines remembers from a trip to Pennsylvania 20 years ago.

By the way: Did you know the Whiskey Rebellion of the 1790s is being celebrated in Berlin? Neither did we. Were you aware of the fact that Berlin is located 75 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania? Neither were we. We thought it was located in eastern Germany, around the Spree river. Also we had no clue Berlin had a bit more than 2000 inhabitants. By the way: There is an East Berlin too, not that far away, in Union County.

Berlin does not equal Berlin. Photo: ‘flamenc’

There are more Berlins in Alabama, Georgia, Maryland and West Virginia. And there is one in Germany’s Schleswig-Holstein province. How in the hell did that happen? This Berlin is part of a town called Seedorf, it has 500 inhabitants and is about as sleepy as a cat on a warm oven. It is located 357 km (222 miles) from Berlin. There is a place called Berlinchen in Brandenburg province, which is even closer.

Costa Rica and Antarctica

Believe it or not, but there are Berlins in Moldova, Poland, Ukraine and Russia. There are even more in Italy, Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Haiti and Jamaica. Yes, there are Berlins in almost all South American countries from Argentina to Venezuela. The same applies to the Republic of Chad and to South Africa.

The distinguished reader must have guessed that there are even more Berlins, namely one in Australia, one in New Zealand, one in Papua New Guinea and one in Antarctica. Now we got them all covered. Finally.

The original Berlin has its charm too. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

Still, the best Berlin of them all is the original. There is nothing better than experiencing the cultural overkill in Berlin, the real Berlin, the city’s diversity, the remains of the Wall that remind us of the peaceful revolution and all of that. We just decided to stay in the original Berlin, even though we would probably like the quietude of the other Berlins too.

By the way: The publication you are reading, The Berlin Spectator, was established in January of 2019. We have worked a whole lot, as you can see. But there has hardly been any income. This is something we urgently need to change. Would you consider contributing? We would be very thankful. Our donations page can be found here.