Berlin 21: The Bears

April 4th, 2019

We’d seen the odd bear on our walks around Berlin, and I think at least one appears in my earlier posts, but on our last evening in Berlin we went to visit what seemed to be Bear Central, better known to the residents of the city as Ku’damm.

Kurfürstendamm is a long street lined with the kind of shops I would never dream of going into, but I ddin’t have to worry as most of them were shut by the time we arrived. During the day it’s a Hell of consumerdom, but at night it was just a rather dull street where nothing much was happening, though there were just a few bars open.

Back in the 1920s and 30s, this was the centre of Berlin’s nightlife, brought to an end by the Great Depression and the rise of Hitler and finally buried under a street full of broken glass on Kristallnacht, 9-10 November 1938. It was seeing photographs of this earlier in the day at the Topography of Terror museum on Niederkirchnerstrasse that had promnpted us to make our journey to see the street today.

When much of the centre of Berlin was in East Germany after the war and particularly after the building of the wall, Ku’damm flourished as something of a showcase of the West, but with reunification, the nightlife shifted to the former eastern zone.

Apparently nobody knows why the bear became a symbol of the city of Berlin; it put in its first appearance in 1280, but it was really in the 19th century it bcame fully esablished as Berlin’s mascot. At the end of that century there were several hundred of varous shapes and sizes visible in the city and in 1920 Greater Berlin’s coat of arms incorporated a large standing bear similar to that later used by East and West Berlin and the united city since.

The bears we met on Ku’damm were the Buddy Bears, introduced by two Greman artists who, ionpsired by ‘cow parades’ in New York and Zurich put 350 bears on the streets of Berlin in 2001, which were later auctioned for charity. Next year came the United Buddy Bears, with its arms upstretched in a gesture of friendliness and optimism, standing in a circle around the Brandenburg Gate in 2002. Since then they have toured the world. There are around 140 of them, each painted to represent one of the world’s countries, and in July 2011 they were back in Berlin for the summer before travelling on. The bears still make money for charity, although the exhibitions are always free, as new bears are often produced for countries and those they replace auctioned off, and by October 2018, according to Wkikpedia, had made 2.3m euros for UNICEF and local organisations helping children in need.

It was quite dark in the area where the bears were displayed, and my Fuji 100X had some difficulties in coping, and I didn’t like to go above ISO1600. Most were taken with the lens fairly wide open and a few don’t have quite enough depth of field for what I was trying to do. But the real problem was that they were mainly standing with their backs to well lit windows of the closed shops, with very little light on their faces. It was a situation where some fill-in light would have helped greatly and I had no flash or other light source with me. But those I’ve included here are just a few of those that I took which were reasonably succesfull. After a while, bears get a bit boring.


Others were posing with the bears for photographs

This was the last day of our stay in Berlin. The following morning we tidied up the flat and then took the bus to the airport for the flight back into Heathrow. I took a few pictures on the journey, but nothing of real interest. We got a good view of central London as we came into land, but the window wasn’t really clean enough for them to be useful.

Previous Berlin post

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Berlin 21: Holocaust memorial, Brandenburg, Spree to Moskwa

April 3rd, 2019

Denkmal für die Ermordeten Juden Europas — a Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, designed by architect Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold commemorates the six million murdered Jews, victims of the Holocaust. Three million of their names are listed and read out loud in an underground information centre below the site.

There are 2,711 concrete slabs or “stelae”, each 2.38 by 0.95m, and with varying heights from 0.2 to 4.7 metres, in long rows with walkways between in which you become overwhemlmed by the grey slabs as you walk further along each line. They get less regular as you walk further in, and some seem unfinished – and the massive concrete in some cracked up a year of two of the mouument being opened in 2005.

I found it a powerful experience, obviously resemembling a cemetery with the blocks as coffins or graves, and the light and shade on the grey blocks and your view of the sky – grey clouds while we were there. My photographs I think are rather superficial and fail to really show the depth of the experience. We had little time and the others were keen to get on, and I was rather overwhelmed.

We walked on to look at some of the other familiar monuments of Berlin, including the Brandenburg Gate, used by the Nazis as a party symbol. It was built between 1788 and 1791, commissioned by Frederick William II of Prussia to represent peace, and designed by Carl Gotthard Langhans based on the gateway to the Acropolis, part of his desire to create ‘Athens on the River Spree’.

It was one of few buildings in the area left standing in the area at the end of the war, though damaged. East and West Berlin authorities worked together on its restoration, but the gate, just inside the eastern zone became one of the border crossings, but was closed in 1961 when the Berlin wall was built and did not reopen until December 1989. Since then it has been further restored.

The Marshalls couldn’t leave Berlin without visiting the Marschallbrücke which crosses the Spree close to the various government offices. On the left is the end of the Reichstag Building where the Greman Parliament sits, and beyond it Paul-Löbe-House and across the river the Marie-Elisabeth-Lueders-Haus, the two designed as a unity by architecht Stephan Braunfels and symbolically linking (and there is also a bridge and a tunnel) the two halves of Germany across the Spree.

We walked east beside the river, where I made a picture of the Marschall Bridge and continued east to Freidrichstrasse where I took a quick snap of the remarkable facade of the Admiralspalast Theatre, opened in 1910.


Where is Wei Wei.

We continued east through various back streets, past art and bars.

and eventually found ourselves eating and drinking in Moskwa.

The final episode of our stay in Berlin will come shortly.

Previous Berlin post

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New York Times Women & Glasgow

April 1st, 2019

Just a short post today, to mention two articles I’ve seen in the last week or so that I think deserve reading. The first, in the New York Times, is very relevant to something I mentioned a couple of weeks ago in Women in Photojournalism, and article reminding younger photographers and writers about photography that women have played an important part in photography for many years.

For news photography, it was really the period from the 70s to the 90s that really brought women into the industry in large numbers – and when ,as the ultralong title states The First Female Photographers Brought a New Vision to The New York Times. And to go with that long title is a long sub-title “The generation of talent brought in from 1973 to 1992 changed the paper’s look.

Of course there were women who came before that, such as Christina Bloom, the UK’s first female press rhotographer in the early years of the 2oth century, and Margaret Bourke-White and many more, but they were in a sense exceptions and it was only in the 70s or later that it really became quite normal. Not to say of course that there are not still areas of inequality and prejudice.

On a quite different subject, I was reminded a few days ago of something I’ve written about before and went again to look at the powerful images produced by Raymond Depardon in Glasgow in 1980, available on Magnum with an essay from the book by William Boyd. I’m reminded of when Picture Post sent Bill Brandt to Glasgow and were shocked at the images he sent back, cool and detached cityscapes reminiscent of de Chirico. Immediately they recalled him and sent up Bert Hardy to get his hands dirty on the street, producing a remarkable image of boys on the Gorbal streets. Depardon seems to me to to combine the best of both, surrealism and reality, in his pictures.

Berlin 20: Checkpoint Charlie

March 31st, 2019

I’ve neither finished nor forgotten my series of posts from a short trip to Berlin in 2011, though I am getting close to the end.  We decided to take a look at some of the more usual tourist traps, and made our way to Checkpoint Charlie.

I declined the offer to have my picture taken with the two guards, though I did photograph a few others having their pictures taken with them

Others avoided the charge simply by standing to one side.

There were several small section of the wall which have been preserved and fixed on the front of buildings in the area.

A few yards away from the checkpoint was Rudi-Dutschke-Haus at 25 Rudi-Dutschke-Strasse. Constructed as a commercial buidling in 1909 by C. Kuhn as a commercial building from 1989 it was the home of the newspaper Tageszeitung (Taz), though I think they have now moved.  Taz was founded in 1981 as an alternative to the mainstream press, aiming to be  “irreverent, commercially independent, intelligent and entertaining” and providing a progressive outlook on political and social issues and generally supporting green ideas. At first all who worked there had equal pay, but now those in more responsible posts get bonuses. Taz is a co-operative, owned by around 19,000 of its readers.

Just along the street were both the tethered balloon which gives tourists an aerial view of Berlin, and also the Trabi museum. I was tempted by the balloon, but we didn’t really have time.

Back outside the Abgeordnetenhaus (House of Representatives), the state parliament of Berlin, is statue of Heinrich Friedrich Karl vom und zum Stein, made in 1867  by Hermann Schievelbein (1817-1867.)  It has apparently been moved several times since it was first displayed. Baron vom Stein (1757-1831) was a Prussian statesman who made important reforms including the abolition of serfdom and the creation of a modern municipal system, which enabled the later unification of Germany. He took advantage of the defeat by Napoleon in 1807 which greatly weakened the conservative establishment to make radical changes. Not only were the serfs freed, but all restrictions on the holding of land and all caste distinctions which had dominated Prussian society were removed, and he brought in local self government for all Prussian towns and villages with more than 8000 inhabitants. But Napoleon, who had urged his appointment in 1808 discovered Stein was hoping for a German national uprising and he had to flee the country. When Napoleon was finally defeated the victorious allies gave Stein the task of overseeing the administration of the liberated territories

Perhaps the most disappointing part of our visit was to Potzdamer Platz.

Potsdamer Platz was almost completely destroyed by bombing and in the fight for Berlin in  World War II. and the largely empty area was at the meeting point of the Soviet, British and American sectors  and housed a thriving black market. The few buildings that had begun to be rebuilt there were largely burnt in the people’s uprising of 1953, and anything left standing was demolished and taken away after the wall was built in 1961. After the wall came down and Germany was reunified the area as sold to Daimler Benz AG and became the largest construction site in Europe for the next ten years. In 2007, it was sold to Swedish Bank SEB and then in 2015 to Canadian real estate company Brookfield.

The buildings seemed rather ordinary, despite the well-known architects involved, though perhaps with longer to explore the area I might have been more interested, but nothing made me want to stay there. We left going north up Ebertstraße.

Apparently Lower Saxony is noted for its bright pink elephants.

Our walks around Berlin continue in later posts.

Previous Berlin post

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Colonial Matters

March 30th, 2019

When I grew up our education system still proudly proclaimed the positive nature of the British Empire, even though it was more or less in its death throes, being replaced in part by the ‘Commonwealth’ (until 1949, the ‘British Commonwealth’). But we were never told about any of its less positive aspects, including often the total ignoring of the rights and laws of the people of the lands we conquered. Many of course were killed, either deliberately or by the introduction of diseases against which they had no natural resistance.

The area now in Canada around Hudson’s Bay, known as Rupert’s Land, was granted to the Hudson Bay Company by Royal Charter in 1670. The French set up ‘New France’ covering much  of what is now USA, including Canada, then the districts of Québec, Trois-Rivières and Montréal. At the peace treaty following the global Seven Years’ War in 1763, Canada became a British colony. In 1821 the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) took over the North-Western Territory, putting them in charge of most of the rest of modern Canada. The country came together when the UK Parliament in its Rupert’s Land Act 1868 approved the sale of all of the territory held or claimed to be held by the HBC to Canada.

Back in 1670, the charter had made it clear that so far as land rights were concerned it only recognised the land rights of “our Subjects, or … Subjects of any other Christian Prince or State.” I’m not entirely sure if the Christian in that document always included Catholics, but certainly the indigenous peoples of the area we annexed were considered to have no rights at all, and the same continued to be true in 1868.

The First Nations were clearly in possession of the land when the British and others arrived in the 17th century but they had no concept of ownership of land and any treaties they later made were for them not about ownership of land but of sharing its use. It was only in 1973 that a Canadian court acknowledged “that the aboriginal title, otherwise known as the Indian title, to their ancient tribal territory has never been lawfully extinguished“.


A passing artist, Margaret Dawn Pepper and her friend stop to show support

The Wet’suwet’en of British Columbia have never signed treaties with Canada or given up rights and title to their ancestral lands and say Canada is violating Anuk Nu’at’en (Wet’suwet’en law) as well as Canada’s own colonial laws in building the Coastal GasLink pipeline across their land to carry fracked natural gas to a processing plant. 14 of them were arrested at gunpoint on Jan 7th for obstructing the building of the pipeline, after an injunction had been obtained ordering them not to block it.

The day after this protest in London took place the Wet’suwet’en leaders came to an agreement with the RCMP to allow limited work on the pipeline to go ahead, so long as they were allowed access to their healing lodge and the back country to continue trapping.


Claire James, Campaigns Coordinator of Campaign against Climate Change

The Wet’suwet’en remain opposed to the pipeline project which they say endangers their water supplies and traditional trapping areas, and there have been continuing complaints about the pipeline workers bulldozing traps, endangering the health centre and restricting access to areas of their land.

The Wet’suwet’en have been backed locally, nationally and internationally by groups concerned with the protection of indigenous rights and by enviromentalists, worried at the huge amount of carbon dioxide that will be produced by gas exported through the pipeline and the global warming this will produce. We should be cutting our use of fossil fuels, not promoting new sources such as this.

The protest started with just a hundful of protesters but was over twice as large by the time I left. They protested at three different entrances to Canada House.

More pictures at Solidarity with Wet’suwet’en Pipeline Protesters

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The Elephant Returns

March 29th, 2019

Normal service was resumed after a long Chistmas and New Year break with a protest outside Southwark Council on January 7th. Residents want the council to press the developer to make further changes to the plans, particularly so that market traders can continue to trade in the area, and that the needs of the Latino community are met. They also demanded an increase in the number of housing properties that will be at council rents.

Tanya Murat of Southwark Defend Council Housing introduced the event and the speakers.

It wasn’t a very visual event, with only one placard, though it did have two sides, and an elelphant climbing up it. The Green Party had also brought a banner. But many of those present were intending to go into the planning committee meeting to speak or listen, and would not have been allowed to take placards in.

Soutwark have one of the worst records of any local authority for getting rid of council housing, with the demolition of the Heygate Estate and the continuing destruction of the Aylesbury Estate. Clearly they see council estates as desirable and profitable development opportunities rather than as a way of providing decent housing that local people can afford.  Many of the new properties are likely to remain empty, bought by overseas investors in the hope that their value will increase greatly, allowing them to sell on to other investors at a large profit.

We need new laws to stop this happening, Charging double council tax on empty properties would be a start, but more radical  policies are needed.

By the time a union rep for council workers was speaking there were a respectable number of protesters outside the council offices.

The area has a large Latino community and the shopping centre is an important one for them, but Southwark Council have refused to engage with them and their needs.

A leader of the market tradeers says they have been lied to by the council and developer and that promises they were made have not been kept. Southwark Council obviously want to get rid of small traders and replace them by shops from the chains that are found in high streets and shopping centres around the country, losing the vibrancy and the unique nature of the current market and centre.

More pictures at Stand Up for the Elephant.

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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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By Tower Bridge

March 28th, 2019

I first photographed Shad Thames in 1980, though I’d looked down from Tower Bridge a few years earlier. It was a time when I was discovering so many new areas of London to photograph, and also when a very stressful teaching job was taking up far too much of my time – and having two young sons also took up a fair amount of my time. But in April 1980 I moved from an 2000+ comprehensive to a sixth-form and community college, considerably cutting my stress and also reducing my journey times by over an hour a day. It meant a small drop in salary as I was no longer in charge of a department, but gave me more time to spend with my family and on photography.

The area was then largely empty. The last working warehouse had closed in 1972, and some of the buildings had become artists studios, with many also moving in an sleeping there strictly against the law. Some were evicted in 1978, and others after a disastrous fire the following year, leaving the area deserted. The redevelopment only really got into gear in 1984.

It looks better now at night than during the day, when the loss of atmosphere is much more marked. I hadn’t gone to photograph the area, but had arrived early for a protest at Southwark Council offices in Tooley St, so took a walk a little further on. I’d wanted to take a look at St Saviour’s Dock just to the east, but the riverside path was fenced off for the footbridge added there in 1995 to be refurbished so that it can be opened again to allow large boats up the dock.

The footbridge which took the Thames Path across the mouth of the dock was one of the few wholly positive aspects of the redevelopment of the area, saving a diversion to Dockhead and back to the river and should be reopened in the Spring. Here’s what the dock looked like back in 1980.

The colour pictures in 2019 were made with a Nikon D750 with the Nikon 18-35mm  f/3.5-4.5G ED zoom wide open with shutter speeds from 1/15 to 1/40th s at ISO 6400. All were handheld.  Back when I was taking the black and white images I used various films, the fastest of which was Tri-X, nominally rated at ISO 400, and the slowest was Kodak Technical Pan, sometimes rated as low as IS0 5. Then I often carried a tripod, but it’s now years since I did, as most things I photograph have people moving in the frame.

More pictures from 1980 on London Photographs.

More from 2019 at Tower Bridge & Shad Thames.
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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

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Matlock & High Tor

March 27th, 2019

Matlock is in the centre of some dramatic landscape, if only on a relatively small scale, and before catching the train home on Sunday I spent the morning walking around some of it.

A footpath from Snitterton Rd took me uphill to give views down on Matlock Bank on the other side of the Derwent, and then through some green fields to a path beside a wall with some views of the impressive limestone cliffs above the river.

This came down to a road beside a church which almost seemed to be built into a rock face, the rather unusual Grade II* listed Chapel of St John the Baptist, built in 1897 for Mrs Louisa Sophia Harris in a part of her garden as she didn’t care for the services at St Giles in Matlock with a Rector who refused to allow her a memorial for her dog. As well as employing the leading Arts and Craft architect Sir Guy Dawber to design her a private Anglo-Catholic Chapel, she also paid some of the leading artists of the day in its interior decoration, including stained glass by Louis Davis (1860-1941), a plasterwork ceiling with painted vines and moulded swallows, by George Bankart (1866-1929) and an altarpiece painted by John Cooke and more. The chapel was in a poor condition when taken over the the charity Friends of Friendless Churches in 2002, and they have spent £300,000 in restoring it to its previous glory, but I wasn’t unable to go inside. Apparently there is a tiny plaque
under a side window, to Vida – Mrs Harris’s dog.

There were more fine views as I walked down St John’s Road, and then took the parth across the river and under thre railway to go up to High Tor Lane, walking up along this as far as a viewing platform before turning around and walking back and then up Pic Tory, which has Matlock’s War Memorial at its top.

From there I walked back down to wait for Linda (who had been to church) in the park, and we had some lunch and another short walk in the town before catching the train to take us back to a very different landscape down south.

More at Matlock & High Tor.
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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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Matlock

March 26th, 2019

We were staying in Matlock Green, a short walk from the centre of Matlock, and from outside our hotel we could see the Parish Church on a hill in Old Matlock, as well as Riber Castle, known locally as ‘Smedley’s Folly’ on a hill top overlooking the area where it was virtually impossible to get a decent water supply. The mock-gothic castle was constructed between 1862 and 1866 as a private home for John Smedley, an industrialist who as well as running Lea Mills also built the large Smedley’s Hydro in the centre of Matlock, turning the town into a spa resort attracting visitors from around the world.

The Hydro was used as a military intelligence school in WW2 and is now the headquarters of Derbyshire County Council. Lea Mills, a few miles to the south, was founded by his father (also John Smedley) and Peter Nightingale in 1784 is the world’s oldest manufacturing factory in continuous operation, though it now makes expensive designer knitwear rather than ‘Long Johns’ and other more workaday clothing.

After visiting Lumsdale I walked up to the church, then down a steep path and into the centre of Matlock. It seems a pleasant place in winter, though probably rather crowded with tourists during the summer months, and I was pleased to find both a Gregg’s and a Wetherspoons close together as after my walk I was both a little hungry and thirsty.

I spent some time wandering around the town before the others returned from their trip to the panto, enjoyong the fading light and then phtographing some of the shops; there do seem to be rather a lot of antiques/junk shops and others with interesting window displays. Later after we met up, we had a meal in a Thai restaurant before a leisurely stroll in a rather circuitous stroll back to our hotel.

More from Matlock in Matlock & Lumsdale both before and after the Lumsdale pictures.

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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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Lumsdale

March 25th, 2019

Lumsdale is a remarkable site, and one which is well worth visiting as I did on Saturday morning, having decide against going to a pantomime in Chesterfield with several of my family of various ages. It was only a short walk from the pub we were staying at in Matlock Green.

It had been an industrial site certainly since Roman times, when they are thought to have had a lead assay and casting depot smelter there, from which a number of large lead ‘pigs’ have been found, though I don’t think there are any Roman remains now as over the years it has hosted various other industries. It is a narrow valley with a small stream, the Bentley Brook, cascading down and at one time providing power for a number of mills, with several mill ponds to provide a constant water flow for the machinery.

The main area is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument, cared for by the Arkwright Society, and “is one of the best water-powered industrial archaeological sites in Great Britain: it is unusual to see so extensive a use of water power in such a relatively small area.” There are the ruins of around six mills in their area of the site. This was where the industrial revolution began, before the larger mills of the Derwent Valley now in the World Heritage site.

Parts of the site were quite crowded, with only narrow places on which to stand and a camera club outing on much of them. At least I did feel that if I slipped on some of the narrower muddy paths and fell down some distance I would be noticed.

Winter is a good time to go, as there would be rather a lot of leaves to get in the way in summer. I walked up the valley, and it was a pleasant walk and not too far, but you can get a bus which passes the top of the valley, where there is also quite a lot of parking. And when I found I would have to wait 20 minutes for a bus back to Matlock I decided instead to walk back a slightly different way, which was also a good decision, as I found a few more things to make pictures of, including a larger mill converted to residential property.

More pictures from Lumsdale in Matlock & Lumsdale

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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

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