Europe, Photography

Don’t Hassel the Hoff in Berlin

The Hoff in Berlin

“Did you hear that The Hoff is confirmed to be at the East Side Gallery for the protest on Sunday?”

Wait… WHAT?!

It was music to my ears. I had heard time and time again that Germans had this weird fixation with David Hasselhoff and I was going to be able to experience it in full force? NO WAY.

David Hasselhoff GermanyThe Hoff in Berlin

But I didn’t go into it completely uninformed. There seems to be a split among young Germans on what they think about The Hoff. Looks of glee, disgust, embarrassment, and excitement took over the faces of my interviewees.

“So, I don’t get it. To me David Hasselhoff is just Baywatch. How on EARTH did he become cool in Germany?”

And multiple times I got, “Not Baywatch! Freaking KNIGHT RIDER. He is AWESOME.” and on one occasion I had the reaction of very excited man that looked like he was a 15 year old girl going to a New Kids on the Block concert.

The Hoff

So Knight Rider, eh?

Who knew?

But besides that, David Hasselhoff has put himself squarely in the middle of the history of the Berlin Wall (whether you agree with it or not). As he entered the pop charts in 1989 with Looking for Freedom, the song inadvertently became the mascot, or song of the falling of the Berlin Wall. He had solidified his place in Germany and continued to be successful for some time.

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Enter current day Berlin:
With thousands of people moving into Berlin every year, it is going through the growing pains that I am waaaaaay too familiar with in Austin – namely gentrification. A big time real estate developer recently submitted plans to create a luxury condo complex…. directly on top of the East Side Gallery, home to some of the most beloved murals in Berlin.

With a difficult past, the Berlin community has come together to preserve the Berlin Wall – a monument to remind people of horrific acts of history – to make sure it doesn’t happen again and to preserve the art as is. The location is important. Sure you can move the pieces of the wall but isn’t there some sort of reverence to the area? Is money really worth building on top of an area where so many died?

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Enter The Hoff:
A normal protest against the gentrification and destruction of the wall brought in 2,000 people previously. Due to the presence of David Hasselhoff, it swelled to well over 10,000. And while a short Mexican girl like me did nearly get trampled by tall Germans in a paparazzi style rush for The Hoff, I don’t regret it. I just captured a little piece of the East Side Gallery’s history.

The Hoff in Berlin

And as The Hoff made his way to the yellow bus after the press conference, the most amazing, cliche thing happened. With a microphone in hand he sang,

One morning in June
some twenty years ago
I was born a rich man’s son
I had everything that money could buy,
but freedom I had none

I’ve been looking for freedom
I’ve been looking so long
I’ve been looking for freedom
Still the search goes on
I’ve been looking for freedom
since I left my home town
I’ve been looking for freedom
Still it can’t be found

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With records – and in one case, a red Baywatch rescue buoy – held triumphantly in the air, the horde followed the bus down the street, joining in song, all smiles.

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The Hoff in Berlin

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The Hoff in Berlin

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34 thoughts on “Don’t Hassel the Hoff in Berlin”

  1. So cool that you got to see the Hoff in Germany. Love it. He used to be really big in Japan too. I just don’t get it. It’s like some kind of cult thing… or something.

    1. Sorry for disappointing you. I am German and I can assure you that he is only “loved” by a vast minority. I have lived in Berlin and believe me this is a media thing. Most people are just there because it is indeed so ridiculous that the Hoff is being “sold” by his pr agency as a star from the USA. Most people mock him…

      1. No disappointment here! I TOTALLY get it and saw myself that people were there mocking him. I just thought it hilarious that SO MANY people showed up – whether to support, to mock, or watch the spectacle that it was. Even if it was a media thing (which we all know it was), I was taken aback by how many people showed up for the Hoff!

        Thanks for commenting Tobias! I can’t wait to get back to Berlin.

  2. I remember seeing this on the web. I can’t quite get over why the Germans for years have been so crazy for him. He really is a big musical hit over there. If he lived there I’m sure he’d get freedom of the city no matter where he laid his hat.

  3. Haha, good old Hoff! It’s awesome he’s such a cult craze in Germany! I remember staying in a hostel once in Berlin and they had a shrine to him in the pub downstairs. Gotta agree with Matthew though, that guy in the speedos is amaze-balls.

  4. I’ve heard about how Germany loves David Hasselhoff but I never really understand why. This must of been insane to experience – love the photos and screencaps. I can definitely get a sense of the excitement that must have been going on.

    1. Yeah, I thought the same thing. Even if it was a PR stunt for him, the fact he was there and gathered so many people has to mean something, right?

  5. I’d heard that The Hoff was still big in Berlin, but I love that you saw it for yourselves! And now I finally know why he’s so popular there.

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