The Standige ‘StaV’ Vertretung
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