Bahnhof Friedrichstrasse, Berlin

On the rear of the panel, Van Genk explains what he found so special about the Friedrichsstrasse railway station in Berlin: ‘Before the War, the...

Willem van Genk, Bahnhof Friedrichstrasse, Berlijn, Outsider Art Museum

On the rear of the panel, Van Genk explains what he found so special about the Friedrichsstrasse railway station in Berlin: ‘Before the War, the centre of the Reich’s capital – now the border between West East sector on the lines to Moscow and Leningrad, from Rotterdam Central, Cologne, – Munich, with the local traffic of the Stadtbahn From Berlin (East Station) there is also the connection (sleeper car CCCP) with the Baltic states, the so-called frontier post Baliostocka (in collaboration with WARS) LENINGRAD (south)’. In other words, it is a major international rail junction situated in East Berlin, with connections to both the S-Bahn (urban light rail network of Berlin) and the U-Bahn (the underground railway of West Berlin).

In the middle of the scene, a woman with gold-blonde hair, a shoulder bag and a briefcase is apparently about to descend the stairway that affords connection to the U-Bahn, other lines and the outside world. A man sits reading a newspaper ‘News’ alongside a girl reading an Italian newspaper ‘l’Unita’, an organ of the Italian communist party).

Under the steel arch of the station roof, Van Genk paints a girl washing her hair next to an advertisement for the firm Dralle, a Hamburg-based perfume and soap manufacturer. At the bottom-left corner, a woman is reading the Dutch newspaper De Waarheid. Another woman, further back, practically jumps out of her skin, hat flying, when a locomotive from Frankfurt am Oder roars up behind her with squealing brakes. A girl sucking a lolly and a white dog on a lead recoil similarly. But a woman in a Polish conductress’ uniform stands rigidly next to the descending stairway.