As I stood looking at essentially a pile of junk on a traffic island, it never occurred to me that this was where I’d get that fairy-tale story I was so desperately hoping for at Hohenzollern Castle. It’s a story about a Turkish Muslim man named Osman Kalin who saw a vacant piece of land from the apartment he was renting and dreamed a little dream. This empty plot of land existed because of the Berlin Wall and during the construction of it there was a bend in the border and the East Germans decided to just straighten the wall instead of following the curve. Rumour has it that this piece of land was used as a dumping ground for people’s garbage until Mr. Kalin saw its full potential.
His vision for this land was to construct a garden and house for his family. The house was built using all the odds and ends that was discarded on this empty plot of land. This isn’t one of those unique structures seen on the Home & Garden channel where you jaw hits the floor when you release it was built out of junk. From first glance, it is obvious the type of materials used to build the structure and there is no apologizes for it whatsoever. Despite the building materials, the structure that stood before me was sturdy but my story isn’t about the values of reduce, reuse, recycle but one about what a man fighting the good fight to keep his home. Sure, when the building was first constructed, neither the East or the West did anything to challenge him. Unfortunately, that was not the case after reunification and the fall of the Berlin wall. The authorities (aka the man) decided that Mr. Kalin’s house needed to be demolished. Not to give in, this Turkish man stood strong and wouldn’t let his home be taken away that easily.
Despite the opposition he faced – HE FOUGHT! Evidence of this fight can be seen today as Mr. Kalin cemented every piece of furniture to the ground in the fear that the man would come and take them away. This was his home and despite the authorities trying to take away this plot of land, there was a zoning law that turned the tides in Mr. Kalin’s favour. It turned out that the land actually belonged to a nearby church and not the administrative body trying to take the land away from him. This building couldn’t be demolished without prior consent from the church and so this Muslim man had no choice but to lobbied to a Christian church for the sake of his home. If you thought this would end in Muslim vs Christian heartbreak than you’d be wrong since the church liked Mr. Kalin’s way of life and family ethic and they decided that he should stay exactly where he is. In the end, it was this church that made it possible for this man and his family to remain in their home. Even though it wasn’t the case on the day that I visited the house, I was told that even though he’s now 84 years old, Osman Kalin can still be seen sitting outside and his grandchildren running around in the garden. To me, this is the stuff of fairy-tales.