Wednesday 8 January 2014

Romanisches Café Berlin

This café is in many ways inspirational for the Creative Café Project. It was a meeting place for artists. I’ve featured it in the biography I’m writing of Clara Lehrs. She was a frequent visitor to this café and she was, by race at least if not by religion, Jewish. At the time she was visiting it in the 1920s it was a simple, plainly furnished place that offered an uncomplicated menu. It was below her normal level of elegance: she was at that time if not exactly wealthy a comfortably provided for widow.
A politically charged atmosphere
Clara was an intelligent if poorly educated woman and it was possibly the political debates that attracted her: she wasn’t particularly a political creature – at one point she didn’t even know who Hitler was and had to research him at the local library. Nevertheless, she found what went on here fascinating.
Bertolt Brecht was a frequent visitor.    
The demise
As early as 1927 the café was under attack from the Nazis and when they came to power most of the regulars emigrated. It stopped being an artists’ café. The Romanische Haus, in which it was situated, was destroyed by an air-raid in 1943.  
The resurrection
Today a typical modern German café with the same name is situated in the Waldorf Astoria, Berlin.
 It is designed to be this café resurrected. 
At first sight it may appear to have lost much of its “creativeness”. But as you look carefully at pictures of it you will notice that newspapers and books are available for the public to read. Thus it offers activities that enable cafés to label themselves “creative”.  The café’s own web site invites creative visitors.  “Jetzt wurde die historische, inspirierende Berliner Caféhauskultur des Romanischen Cafés vom Waldorf Astoria Berlin wieder zum Leben erweckt: als Treffpunkt in einladender, zwangloser und moderner Atmosphäre, wo Gäste und Einheimische entspannen, arbeiten oder mit Freunden plaudern können.” Now the historic, inspiring Berlin coffee house culture of the Romaisches Café of the Waldorf Astoria, Berlin,  is brought to life again: as a meeting place in an inviting, stress-free and modern atmosphere where guests and residents can relax, work or chat with friends.”        
The challenge  
Creative café fans: if you’re in Berlin, visit this café and bring it back to first principles. Make it a truly creative café by your presence. Many reviewers complain of indifferent food and high prices. Customers influence and creative ones should be able to do this quite well. Go rent a table, work, write and / or put the world right there.    

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