Touring the Berlin Lakes with Serbian Workers
One sleeps in on Sundays in Berlin. But there is a lot of activity in a port close to Siemens’s city. Over two hundred Serbian workers decided to spend this Sunday on the water, in the sun and fresh air.
A clock struck eight times somewhere nearby. The clock on the Charlottenburg castle reminded us about the agreed time. Our boat departs the bank and slides slowly on the Spree towards Hafen, the Berlin paradise.
The boat is filled with members of the Serbian workers’ organization at the German Workers’ Front. There are also several guides in dark grey uniforms, whose hats are adorned by the slogan Kraft durch Freude.1 They are pointing out to workers all the attractions that they are encountering along the way.
German is difficult. Both the guides and our workers get that. Detailed explanations are few. The ice is broken. The mood is improving by the minute. Soon, the boat becomes a diverse [literally, “many-colored”] family.
The chief of the Serbian workers’ delegation is completely satisfied with his people. They are clean and neatly dressed. The invited guests are pleasantly surprised, and they especially like the spontaneity with which the workers are having fun.
Mr. Kečić knows the circumstances in Berlin and the Third Reich well, since he has spent many years in Germany.
“I am satisfied with what we have achieved, although we could still do more. Everything depends on the consciousness of the workers and their confidence in us,” he says.
Serbian workers have a full freedom of movement in Germany, as well as good work conditions, but they are not taking advantage of those opportunities. Partly because they are not informed correctly, and in good part because their understanding is that they are in Germany only to work. It is news to the Serbian worker that Germany organizes leisure activities in free time, apart from providing work and wages.
A petite red-haired youth is dominating the discussion at one of the tables. He was the best women’s coiffeur in Belgrade, and worked in well-known Belgrade salons.
"I have no reasons to complain," he says. “I earn in a week as much as I used to earn in Belgrade in a month. Over these nine months, I learned enough German to work, and my mother and sister joined me here, so it feels like home.”
Few Serbian workers have their mothers, sisters or brothers here, and they are not as lucky as the red-haired Popović. They spend a lot of time thinking of those they left behind at home.
Sand, evergreens and lots of water dominate the landscape seen from the plane landing at Tempelhof, the Berlin airport. Six large lakes lie east of Berlin, and ten times as many smaller ones. Serbian workers now understand why the real Berliner likes water.
The sun has already set behind the tall trees of the Charlottenburg castle when Serbian workers returned from their trip around the Berlin lakes "
CAPTIONS: "Left: Serbian workers drinking beer in their fight against the heat and thirst." "Right: The deck of the boat drew those that prefer looking at the environment to fun and conversation.”