Anyone who walks between the Brandenburg Gate and The Reichstag can’t fail to notice 14 white crosses spread along a fence next to the Tiergarten. These crosses are obviously a memorial to those who died trying to get across the Berlin Wall, but they’re not supposed to be here – but why not?
It’s not because the authorities don’t want the events publicised because there’s an official memorial on the banks of the River Spree behind the Reichstag.
The reason that they’re not wanted is down to the man who has chosen to erect his own personal memorial here – a man by the name of Gustav Rust. It’s more than possible you’ll bump into Herr Rust if you walk along Ebertstrasse because he seems to be here most of the time.
Over the years he seems to have adopted some very strong right-wing tendencies which earned him a spell in one of the Stasi’s prisons – a period he’s never forgotten. He’s definitely on a mission and he’ll thrust literature into your hands as you walk past, which has got him into even more trouble because he’s found himself falling out with people on a regular basis including the police, foreign diplomats and even members of the German Parliament. He’s even been convicted in court of assault and battery, so I suggest you think twice before getting involved in an argument with him. So why don’t the authorities move him on?
Well, it seems that nobody wants to take the responsibility for it and it falls on the local Mitte office of public order to be able to move people on if they think that someone’s making too much of a nuisance of themselves. In fact, they’ve dismantled his personal memorial twice – and he’s re-built it twice.
I last bumped into him in 2015 and he was still going strong, even though he’s well into his seventies.
It seems the powers that be just let him get on with it these days, and somehow I also happen to think that his memorial has more meaning to it than the mediocre official offering on the banks of the Spree.