Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Berlin - Day 2

Day 2 in Berlin we were busy, busy, busy sightseeing. We started off the day by heading to the Bundestag, or Reichstad as it is also commonly known, which is the seat of the German Parliament. 
You used to be able to walk through the Bundestag but we found out that as of November 2010, you have to sign up online at least a week in advance which we didn't know so we didn't do it so we didn't get to walk through the Bundestag. If you'd like to avoid this, remember to sign up on the website here:
The German government is actually structured very close to that of the United States so we weren't very disappointed to miss the tour since we already have a pretty good grasp on how it all works.
Next we took a short walk to Brandenburg Gate. Berlin once had a series of gates to control all the coming and going in Berlin but this is the only remaining gate. This one in particular used to lead directly to the city palace of the Prussian Monarchs. Napoleon took the statue from the top when he defeated Prussia in 1806 but it was returned a couple years later. The gate was damaged during World War II and the Berlin Wall blocked off all access to the gate. I found this fact particularly powerful. This is one of Germany's most historic landmarks and no one could access it for 28 years. Unbelievable.
Just 1 block away lies the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. We didn't go to the underground portion but it was somber walking through the memorial and reflecting on the Holocaust.
Just 1 block from the memorial is Potsdamer Platz which used to be the busiest corner in Europe but it was completely flattened during World War II and the buildings you see below have been built in the last 20 or so years.
There are some pieces of the Berlin Wall here as well as a visible strip in the concrete flooring to show you where the wall once stood. Here's Dale showing you where the wall once stood.
We walked along the line until we found the Topography of Terror. This is a Museum about Hitler, the Nazi Movement, World War II, all of that. A section of the wall remains here and it also happens to be where the Headquarters for the Nazi movement were located although you can hardly tell because as soon as the Nazi's fell all of their buildings were destroyed. In fact, it was only a couple years ago that the barely visible structural remains were found. 
We actually spent quite a bit of time walking through the museum and learning in detail all about these horrible events. We ended up getting too exhausted and emotionally drained to finish looking through the museum but it was very well done and incredibly detailed. Next we stopped for some German food, I got a schnitzel and just loved it! And then on we went to Checkpoint Charlie which is the most well known checkpoint, and the only checkpoint where members of the Allied Forces could cross from East to West Berlin. This one is actually not the original though.
The original is now located at the Allied Museum. So, we hopped on the train and went to the Allied Museum which details what the Allies did to help Germany during and after World War II.
Below are license plates from West Berlin. Depending one which Allie Governed State you lived in you had a different plate as I'm sure a lot of other daily things worked as well.
One thing we learned a lot about here was the Berlin Airlift and below is one of the planes from the mission. It was pretty unbelievable how the Allies worked together to keep the 2 million people in West Berlin alive essentially.
Finally, we walked the East Side Gallery to view the Berlin Wall and the paintings on it. It is actually the longest open air gallery in the world. The paintings were done in 1989 after the fall of the Berlin Wall and it was just really interesting to see this expression of all the different emotions everyone was experiencing. We stopped half way through and got a drink on a floating lounge and reflected on the day. 
It was an emotionally draining day but it was very interesting and we learned a lot.
Love Always,


Anonymous said...

Sad to think that Germany's recent history is so dominant - Hitler and his madness. Maybe a less depressing tour of Berlin/Germany would include breweries? Another question - can you add the English meaning to the Swedish words on your blog?
Love you - Maaa

Matilda said...

Maaa, you can definitely go to Berlin and not go to any of the WW2 sites. We were just interested in it and in learning more about it. I suppose to understand better but maybe also to understand what your generation went through. There are breweries though, here's a list of them:
Maybe for the next trip to Berlin? ;)
I'll fix the Swedish word app! Thanks for the heads up!

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