Germany
Potsdamer Platz

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  • Day30

    9/11 in Berlin

    September 11, 2019 in Germany ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    I've spent 9/11 many places since 2001. Walking through Berlin today has been especially moving and thought provoking.

    Hundreds, thousands of kids lost their parents that Tuesday morning. This really hits home for me-- I lost my own dad when I was 10 . It mustn't happen again. We deserve to feel safe, and I'm thankful for my friends focused on security-- especially those willing to risk their own lives to protect us.

    And yet...you can't walk through this city without constant "in your face" reminders of what can happen when the desire for security gets out of balance.

    Memorials to the millions of people-- Jews, Romani and others-- killed by the Nazis. Pictures of a bombed out city, and stories of thousands of civilians who died. The history of the Berlin Wall, and those killed trying to cross it.

    None of us ever wants another day like 9/11, and we do what we must to prevent that. But at the same time, let's never make the same mistakes our German cousins made-- letting our fears drive us until our own country is destroyed, and our own hands stained with blood.

    It turns out there is hope in this number too. One other interesting thing I realized today. The Berlin Wall fell in 1989, on November 9. And in the European way of marking dates-- first the day, then the month-- that's 9/11 too.
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  • Day30

    Berlin highlights

    September 11, 2019 in Germany ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    When I made the connection between 9/11 and Berlin's history, I was looking at the US embassy while standing in the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.

    This memorial was just one of many stops in the Rick Steves Audio Tour I followed this afternoon-- and thankfully, none of the others were this heavy.Read more

  • Day32

    Potsdamer Platz

    September 13, 2019 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    I didn't want to leave Berlin without a visit to Potsdamer Platz. Today it's just another huge city intersection-- but the history!

    By the 1920's and 30's Potsdamer Platz was the busiest traffic center in all of Europe. The first electric street lights in Germany had been installed here in 1882, and in 1924 came Germany's first traffic lights.

    Imagine a complex with the world's largest restaurant – the 2,500-seat Café Piccadilly – plus a 1,200-seat theatre, and eight themed restaurants with cuisine from around the world. All were served from a central kitchen containing the largest gas-fueled cooking plant in Europe

    How about a store with a granite and plate glass facade longer than a football field-- with 83 elevators and 1,000 telephones, a summer, winter, and roof garden, an enormous restaurant, its own laundry, theatre and concert booking office, a bank, and a large fleet of private delivery vehicles.

    You'd have found those, along with huge hotels, and dozens of nightclubs (hello Sally Bowles) right here.

    The square was mostly destroyed in WWII, and after it straddled Western and Soviet controlled Berlin. Eventually, in 1961, the Berlin Wall was built right through it-- and you can see a bit of what remains in the photo.

    If you're interested, there's a ton more info online. Just the little bit I read makes me wish I had a time machine, so I could see it at it's peak.
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  • Day2

    Berlin

    August 19, 2019 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    Liebe Leute,
    nach all den ereignisreichen letzten Wochen sind wir nun in unserer ersten Station Berlin angekommen. Wir nutzen diese Gelegenheit um den ersten Footprint zu erstellen und den Start unserer geplanten Weltreise zu markieren und zu dokumentieren.

    Wir sind einerseits glücklich und aufgeregt, dass es nun endlich losgeht und nach der monatelangen Planung und Vorbereitung die ersten Eindrücke und Erfahrungen auf uns warten.
    Andererseits sind wir immer noch beeindruckt und berührt von der ganzen Anteilnahme zum Abschied, von den schönen Geschenken und den vielen lieben Worten.
    Bei allen hoffentlich schönen Erlebnissen, positiven Eindrücken und neuen Bekanntschaften unterwegs werden wir das nicht vergessen.

    Noch ein Wort zu diesem Reisetagebuch: wir werden dieses Buch soweit füllen, dass jeder uns gedanklich folgen kann, ein paar Fotos sieht und weiß wo wir bisher gewesen sind. Für die privateren Bilder, Gedanken und Geschichten werden wir extra Footprints erstellen, die ihr dann sehen könnt wenn ihr euch bei Findpenguins.com mit eurer Email-Adresse registriert und einem von uns folgt.

    Bis bald und alles Liebe,

    Sarah & Nils
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  • Day6

    Museums and Monuments

    March 11, 2019 in Germany ⋅ 🌧 4 °C

    Fascinating tour this morning with the lovely Karin Holl focusing on life in Berlin during the Second World War but with some interesting stops with other historical prominence. Visited the Checkpoint Charlie museum in the afternoon and finished the day with a bit of book shopping! Absolutely exhausted but a brilliant way to end my time in Berlin.Read more

  • Day12

    The night

    September 4, 2019 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    Came out of the museum at dusk and we found an Indian restaurant for dinner.
    Hitler’s bunker was right around the corner so after dinner we walk there. It’s a car park now. So incredible that this was the hive of WW2 planning and destruction and now it’s a car park with a view of the Jewish monument. What a fuck you to Hitler.
    We walked back to the monument as it is so different in the dark. We started to walk through it but we all got a bit scared.
    Onto the train and off at the gate again.
    Beautiful in the night lights. I cannot believe that I a standing here and it bought a tear to my eye.
    We went to the gay part of town and above the train station is a rainbow! Awesome!
    Had a drink at a bar and then headed home. Big amazing incredible day!!
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  • Day2

    Jewish Holocaust Memorial

    December 18, 2019 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 8 °C

    The second most visited tourist destination is the memorial built to commemorate the nearly 9 million Jews that were systematically murdered by the Nazis’s conceived and manipulated by Hitler and Goebbels to create a common enemy to the fatherland.

    The structure is very big and is designed to inspire and educate fellow tourists to the pure evil of the National Socialist Agenda circa 1939 onwards as it began to implement what has come be known as the “final solution”.
    The sculpture park is designed for ordinary tourists and Berliners alike to remind them of what happened during the holocaust and as a stark reminder that this must never happen again.
    It is a fascinating memorial and is open to interpretation around its meaning and how it represents the lessons learned from this horrible chapter in history. There are arranged in rows solid blocks of stone that are in varying shapes and sizes and that cover a vast area all arranged in rows and on an uneven surface.

    It consists of a 19,000-square-metre (200,000 sq ft) site covered with 2,711 concrete slabs or "stelae", arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field. The stelae are 2.38 metres (7 ft 10 in) long, 0.95 metres (3 ft 1 in) wide and vary in height from 0.2 to 4.7 metres (7.9 in to 15 ft 5.0 in). They are organized in rows, 54 of them going north–south, and 87 heading east–west at right angles but set slightly askew.

    The artist wanted people to read into the sculpture what they would and now that I reflect on it some more when you are walking in the middle of it, it becomes quite oppressive as well as being disorienting for the person in the maze. Many visitors and Berliners have also interpreted the contrast between the grey flat stones and the blue sky as a recognition of the "dismal times" of the Holocaust. As one slopes downwards into the memorial entrance, the grey pillars begin to grow taller until they completely consume the visitor. Eventually the grey pillars become smaller again as visitors ascend towards the exit. Some have interpreted this as the rise and fall of the Third Reich or the Regime's gradual momentum of power that allowed them to perpetrate such atrocities on the Jewish community.

    The space in between the concrete pillars offers a brief encounter with the sunlight. As visitors wander through the slabs the sun disappears and reappears. One is constantly tormented with the possibility of a warmer, brighter life. Some have interpreted this use of space as a symbolic remembrance of the volatile history of European Jews whose political and social rights constantly shifted. Many visitors have claimed walking through the memorial makes one feel trapped without any option other than to move forward. Some claim the downward slope that directs you away from the outside symbolically depicts the gradual escalation of the Third Reich's persecution of the European Jewish community. First, they were forced into ghettos and removed from society and eventually they were removed from existence. The more a visitor descends into the memorial, he or she is without any visible contact of the outside world. He or she is completely ostracized and hidden from the world. It is common for groups of visitors to lose each other as they wander deeper into the memorial. This often reminds one of the separation and loss of family among the Jewish community during the Holocaust.
    Some have interpreted the shape and color of the grey slabs to represent the loss of identity during the Nazi regime.
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  • Day2

    Hitler’s Bunker

    December 18, 2019 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 8 °C

    Due to the shocking impact Hitler had on the German psyche very little is mentioned of him at all throughout Germany except in the context of learning from the atrocities perpetrated in the name of Nazism.

    As a consequence of this, his last refuge in Berlin was his bunker where he committed suicide as the Russians stormed into Berlin. The site of his death is a non descript parking lot that has permanently been unkept and is only marked with a blue sign signifying the location such is the contempt that the German race now have for him.
    His ashes were scattered into the Elbe river so that Hitler was never able to have any lasting burial place within Germany such was the attitude toward his crimes.

    On another note the surrounding architecture of the area is similar to the glum and basic government housing of the East German regime. Interestingly we were also able to understand that these high rise apartments were sought out by the Stasi and high ranking East German officials at the time so that they could have some enjoyment in their lives by looking over the wall into the West German side and being able to see the freedom and prosperity on display. Hardly a gratifying experience for the people caught on the wrong side.
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  • Day2

    Berlin Wall

    December 18, 2019 in Germany ⋅ ☁️ 8 °C

    The Berlin Wall was a guarded concrete barrier that physically and ideologically divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989. Construction of the Wall was commenced by the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany) on 13 August 1961. The Wall cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany, including East Berlin.
    The barrier included guard towers placed along large concrete walls, accompanied by a wide area (later known as the "death strip") that contained anti-vehicle trenches, "fakir beds", and other defenses.

    The Eastern Bloc portrayed the Wall as protecting its population from fascist elements conspiring to prevent the "will of the people" in building a socialist state in East Germany.
    Throughout Berlin the old wall can be traced by a line of cobblestones that outline the exact presence of the wall before it was demolished.
    There are many fascinating stories of people who escaped from the East to the West including tunnels, zip lines from the adjacent building seen in one of the photos and hot air balloons.
    A personal regret was being unable to visit the East whilst the wall was still standing as it was possible to take a day visa and visit although our guide also informed us that many West Germans had businesses in the East and would travel there each day to work.
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