Checkpoint Charlie scenes
Remember the German word hutchenspiel?
I’ve used it on the House floor more than once in the past.
Hut is hat; hutchen is little hat; spielen is to play. Put them all together in the typical German fashion of word creation and you get play the little hat game.
In English, we call it the old shell game in which a pea is placed under three shells which are moved around so quickly (the hand being quicker than the eye) as to fool someone who gambles on the game.
When I was living in Berlin, gangs of non-Germans (Auslanders), usually Yugoslavs or Turks at the time I was there...not that there's anything wrong with that, would roam the streets from the Kudamm to Alexanderplatz luring unsuspecting natives and tourists into wasting their money on Hutchenspiel It was totally illegal, so the players moved from place to place rather quickly to avoid Berlin police.
As someone who has always enjoyed filming dangerously (I was once thrown out of the Seabrook Greyhound Park parking lot for filming license plates to prove to House members that a majority of patrons there were out of staters), I set about filming the Hutchenspielers from time to time.
They were never happy, but I managed to catch their illegal game for a few seconds, and I feature the footage on this week’s “The Liberty Express” which airs Thursday at 9 p.m., Sunday at noon, Monday at 10 p.m., and Tuesday at 11 p.m. on Manchestertv23 (always available on line at vimeo.com/channels/libertyx).
The shell game moments are part of a half hour I call “From Checkpoint Charlie to Sachsenhausen”.
Checkpoint Charlie, as most will recall, was the crossing point from the American into the Soviet sector of divided Berlin. I filmed the spot after the wall came down and visited the place 50 or so yards away where, within view of American guards in 1962, a young East German named Peter Fechter, trying to flee to the West, was allowed to bleed to death after being shot by East Berlin vopos (police, Volkspolizei).
Even more gruesome is Sachsenhausen, the site of a concentration camp in the town of Oranienburg, only 20 or so kilometers north of Berlin.
From Cold War to Nazi history, we’ll look at some sad spots (with appropriate short historical readings) on this week’s show, and The Hutchespielers are there as well.
Last week’s Liberty Express is still available on line. That’s the one featuring 60s satirist Tom Lehrer, and I just heard on the radio that not only is Tom Lehrer still alive, but he’ll be performing in Manchester (some place on Hanover Street) on March 31.
Next week’s Liberty Express will feature speeches on the gay marriage debate on the floor of the New Hampshire House. No, I won’t offer the entire debate. In fact, the speeches will be from only one side. I’m sure you can guess which one—hey it’s my show; if you want to broadcast the pro repeal side, start your own show.
The best speech I’ve heard in years was from first term Manchester Republican Rep Cameron DeJong, part of a trio of outstanding new Reps from Ward 2. Mike Ball and Win Hutchinson also spoke.
A new hero for the gay marriage side emerged in the form of West Side Republican Tammy Simmons. She was fantastic and perhaps even more emotional than I was...not that there's anything wrong with that. I’ll also feature Bedford Republican Keith Murphy’s remarks and probably my own as well.
Thus, after the somber wanderings around Berlin this week, next week’s Liberty Express out of studio segment will be a celebration of joy at the progress our society has made.