The Standige ‘StaV’ Vertre­tung

Diplomat East Africa - - Diplospeak -

Pol­i­tics is so in­ter­twined in day-to-day life in Berlin that it pops up in the most un­ex­pected places – like when you are just about to bite into a meaty roasted pork on the banks of the Spree River right in the cen­tre of Berlin.

The Stav on Mitte, Berlin, pays homage to Ger­many’s po­lit­i­cal his­tory. It is an hon­est and chron-

Not just any restau­rant, but a po­lit­i­cal book, writes RON­ALD BERA

olog­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tion of a po­lit­i­cal cult eatery, com­mu­ni­cat­ing the his­tory of the Fed­eral Repub­lic over the last 50 years.

Nes­tled at the end – or start – of the metro over­head bridge in Mitte, it looks like a nor­mal restau­rant and the menu con­sists of tasty tra­di­tional Ger­man food, but the ex­pe­ri­ence above ev­ery­thing else is what re­ally mat­ters.

Vis­i­tors are drawn into a sort-

of-spell of a vivid ac­count of past and re­cent his­tory that is just sim­ply stun­ning.

Lined up along its grey walls that run high, pic­tures of prom­i­nent politi­cians of dif­fer­ent ad­min­is­tra­tions, fa­mous ac­tors, en­trepreneurs and artists are proudly dis­played in black and white.

You need not take hours brows­ing over old news­pa­per ar­ti­cles or hunched over thick his­tor­i­cal books over at the State Li­brary if you want to learn about Ger­many’s po­lit­i­cal his­tory: Din­ner or a beer at the Standige Vertre­tung – or sim­ply ‘StaV’ – will do.

And you get to sit at the spot where An­gela Merkel once sat just a few years be­fore she be­came Chan­cel­lor.

“Ev­ery pic­ture shows a popular politi­cian and it rep­re­sents a dif­fer­ent Ger­man ad­min­is­tra­tion and it is his­tory,” said Tanya Kol­hoff, the man­ager.

Founded in Septem­ber 1997 by two close friends, there are sev­eral StaV out­lets spread through­out Ger­many, each dif­fer­ent with its own unique style. The at­mos­phere of each out­let is linked - lo­cally or re­gion­ally - to their re­spec­tive lo- cations, said Kol­hoff, and no StaV is ever fin­ished. This is part of the restau­rant rule and it is cen­tral to its mode of business.

“What is to­mor­row the fu­ture is al­ready the past by the day after to­mor­row and soon after that con­signed to his­tory for good. That makes up the at­mos­phere – the fascination of ev­ery StaV,” it says on the restau­rant’s web­site.

For in­stance, the at­mos­pheres of the StaV in Berlin – which also acts as the ‘mother ship’ – is more fo­cused on the fight for Berlin, the ac­tual sit of gov­ern­ment, after the 1991 par­lia­men­tary vote that de­cided which be­tween Berlin and Bonn would be Ger­many’s cap­i­tal city.

Pho­tos abound of the dif­fer­ent Heads of the Per­ma­nent Mis­sion of the Fed­eral Repub­lic in the Ger­man Demo­cratic Repub­lic (GDR) or East Ger­many. Most popular is the pic­ture of Gunter Gaus who stopped by the StaV after an elec­tion rally in late 1998.

“Twenty-year-old vis­i­tors are sur­prised by the pho­tos – “What, they used to be friends?” For thirty-year-old guests, they are the sub­ject of sar­cas­tic re­marks, for older vis­i­tors a cause to rem­i­nisce about “the good old times,” notes the web­site.

But his­tory, es­pe­cially po­lit­i­cal his­tory, is too long to fit in such limited space.

“What hap­pens if you ran out of space?” I asked the man­ager. She laughed and re­marked, “We shall see.”

But that ques­tion is well-an­swered once you take a trip to the bath­room. On the tiled walls, just above the uri­nals in the gents, are pic­tures of ma­jor events in Ger­man his­tory from 1945-1989. And within the bath­room doors are ex­cerpts from press re­leases and le­gal doc­u­ments.

It just leaves you awestruck and at the end of it all, you will al­ways find an ex­cuse to go back to the StaV

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