I was listening to the 1969 Marmalades’ hit Reflections of my Life on Spotify.
It’s a forgotten classic by a band from Glasgow, however as I listened to it this time around, it was with quite different ears to those of the 12 year old who bought it in 1970 as a 45. I don’t think it was just being forty plus years older that gave the song a different feel.
It is a very melancholy song. For me, as with so many others, a couple of lines stood out,
The world is a bad place, a bad place
A terrible place to live, oh but I don’t wanna die.
Given the song was written at the height of the Vietnam War its anti war sentiment is easy to understand as is the reference to the the world as a bad and terrible place. This time around though, it was not the Vietnam War that I was thinking about when I listened to the song, but a photo I had seen on our recent trip. I could neither get the photograph or the lines out of my head.
The photo is on display at the Topography of Terror in Berlin,
where the story of the rise of Nazis and the Gestapo is told through a quite confronting and riveting display.
I find the photo truly terrifying. A young couple cuddling in the sand, carefree, surrounded by Swastikas. Did they know what was happening to those who opposed the Nazi Party, the Jews, Gypsies or the disabled? Did they even care?
Were they members of the Nazi Party? Was he in the Gestapo? Were they just actors playing a part in a propaganda war?
They seem oblivious, whilst horrific crimes against humanity were carried out. People’s lives were torn apart, so many murdered in the most horrible of circumstances, yet the intended message to the world from this photograph is of love and happiness.
If there was ever the epitome of the world being a bad place a terrible place this picture says it all.
If you want to read more about the Topography of Terror in Berlin you might find these sites interesting