07 September 2011

Berlin Part Two

I'm a big fan of tours because I like getting the information of what I'm looking at and knowing that I'm seeing the highlights instead of passing something by. For example our tour guide stopped us in the middle of this parking lot and asked us why we were stopping there. We're all looking around at the apartment buildings surrounding the lot dumbfounded. We have no clue.

This was the location of Hitler's bunker, which has been destroyed, filled in with debris, and is now a parking lot. Yep, would have missed that.

Another example, you're walking down the street looking at the sights and you take a quick look at your feet, you know to watch your step so you don't trip on any rocks. You barely notice that the bricks are in a certain pattern. If you do notice you probably push it off as decoration.

Well, since I was on a tour I learned that these bricks / stone/ whatever it is are done this way for you to see where the Berlin wall was located at. It's quite the eye opener to actually see how the city was split in two.

Up to this point I was seeing some OLD stuff and due to that visiting Berlin was weird for me... or maybe more surreal? Let me explain. Yes WWII and the Berlin Wall is awhile ago but it's close history. I remember seeing news footage of the wall going down. I remember learning West Germany and East Germany as separate countries.

Don't get me wrong it was very cool visiting Berlin but it was odd seeing historical landmarks so close to and from my lifetime.

Another way to tell if you're in the old East or West Berlin is by the walk signals. Yes, the walk signals. West Berlin is more to what you see here in the states. But in the parts that used to be East Berlin you have these cute signals:

Aren't they adorable?

The Neptune Fountain even thought it's not spouting water. Unfortunately I think I was there too early for the water to be on. Granted it was a couple beautiful warm days, but still too early for those fountains. The four women that surround Neptune represent the four main rivers of Prussia: Elbe, Rhine, Vistula, and Oder

In the background is the Rotes Rathaus

St Mary's Church and the TV Tower

The interior of the Neue Wache and the Kathe Kollwitz sculpture, Mother with her Dead Son.

This was a WWII memorial but my tour guide said that it now stands for all soldiers lost in any war.

In 1933 there was a book burning campaign. At the Bebelplatz, a location of the burnings, is now a memorial. Underground there are several rooms filled with empty bookshelves - they calculated how many books were burned (can't remember the number) and how many bookshelves it would take to hold them. They built those empty bookshelves as the memorial and there's a plexiglass window that allows to look inside one of the rooms and see the walls lined with those empty bookshelves.

Over a hundred years before the book burnings, the German-Jewish poet, Heinrich Heine, stated "Where books are burned, human beings are destined to be burned too."

Sadly we now know how true that statement is. You'll take a look at one of the places where it happened with my next post - my visit to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp.


Laura said...

I'm loving the photos!

One fact you failed to mention about the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War it's because of David Hasselhoff. :-)

Nancy said...

Thank you for these posts you're doing, history in our lifetime.....

Ivon said...

I like reading and seeing about your trips. Love you.