Blog Posts on The Needle

Welcome to The Needle

The beginning of the 21st Century in Berlin may well be remembered for its outpouring of creativity –like Vienna in 1905, New York in the fifties, and Paris in the sixties. The years following the destruction of the Berlin Wall were times of jubilation, the beginning of great urban projects to bring the divided city together. Only now are those projects being completed, and abandoned neighbourhoods filling with bars and clubs, art galleries, a decadent night life and ex-patriots.

Creative youth are arriving en masse to a city that seems to be constantly changing. The feeling that nothing is fixed, that everything could be different tomorrow, brings with it a sense of freedom. The claustrophobia of the European museum city, with its social codes and bourgeois expectations, is largely absent here for those who have already defeated that narrowing of perspective in their own heads.

It may be that that world was thoroughly destroyed, during the years of National Socialism, WW2 destruction, and Cold War division. Like with Adorno’s Angel of History, it is the accumulation of detritus from the past, a world destroyed by a ‘wind from paradise’, that propels us ever more into the future. We cannot help but stare with embarassment, disgust and amazement at all that was lost. And from that loss, there is also the possibility, and necessity, to move forward.

This blog is about places in Berlin that record what has been lost, and gained.

Joseph Pearson

Joseph Pearson (1975) is writer and historian based in Berlin. Born in Canada, he was educated at Cambridge University, UK, where he received his doctorate in history in 2001. Since 2008, he has written The Needle, which has become one of Berlin's most popular blogs. His portrait of the German capital, Berlin, for Reaktion Press was published in 2017. His second book, My Grandfather's Knife, was published by HarperCollins and the History Press in 2022. He is also the essayist and blogger of the Schaubühne Theatre, one of Berlin's best known state-funded institutions. His writing has appeared widely in the press, literary and academic journals, and has been translated into Italian, German, French, and Arabic. Having taught at Columbia University in New York City, he lectures in Berlin at New York University Berlin (since 2012) and the Barenboim-Said Academy.