Well what can I say??? We had a quiet night after our arrival here, but decided to do the full day walking tour of Berlin with Brewers Tours and what an informative day it’s been. We began in the Jewish quarter only to find out that the british managed to bomb everything but the Nazi communications centre. In fact the buildings in general that were left standing where important Nazi buildings including the air force head quarters. We wandered through the streets and came to what is now a bar (we are heading back there!) that was a bunker and apparently people had candles on their knees, waist and shoulders to let them know what the oxygen level was. Also toilets in bunkers became great places for suicide because they where the most private places available – very sad stories really. The Berlin wall – some amazing facts! We sat in a place called the Palace of Tears, a place where so many people said good byes to loved ones for so many years. It was in this place that people from the west would have to say good bye to their family,friends and lovers in the east. While we think of the wall as simply a wall, it was interesting to learn of the death strip that actually lay between to two walls, a strip that was filled with nails, the sand made it easy to see the foot prints of those who tried to escape basically there was much more to it than the wall itself! The the story of the wall coming down was very interesting. Reagan? Nah, Gorbechev? Nah! It was apparently Guenter Schabowski who was to announce that if you had a passport you could visit the west for 30 days a year and even apply for a visa, didn’t actually read the dossier of information that he was given saw that people were to be give access to the west and on live television told people that they could move freely into the west – and so endeth the Berlin wall. Needless to say he was sent to prison where he stayed for four years!
There is also a beautiful angel made of gold on the main road down from the Brandenburg Gate, this is apparently made from the gold taken from the French for payment of destruction during the fallout with Prussia. The statue apparently faces France, so it’s a bit like an up yours from Germany.
The memorial to the Jewish people is amazing, well at least I think so. I have visited before and ifind it the most moving memorial. It is blocks of concrete all different sizes in the centre of the city, it is very abstract so I think it really engages by creating the questions what does it mean! No matter where you stand you can see a way out so for me it was about liberty and freedom, even though in some places the way out seemed some way off. The empty spaces – perhaps symbolic of those unknown who suffered but in the absence we are reminded of their lives? The different sizes reminded me of difference but the importance of inclusion – that’s my take for now anyway, but it is a thought provoking memorial to walk through and I think more powerful that the words used by other nations across the world to remember those who have lost their lives during war and conflict. I wonder how many other countries would be willing to give up prime real estate in a major city to remember lives lost?
Anyhow so much information I would be here all day and night!
It was amazing and sad to hear the stories of the genocide that happened here, it was amazing to hear the history of hitler. We saw bullet holes from WWII in buildings knowing that people had died in that spot it is always a bit harrowing think that people had suffered in the place where you stand.
So much info I cannot share on the blog you would be reading forever! The history is so sad but yet there are so many heroic tales that make you step back and think “would I dare?”
On another note I swear that the cold weather is following us, it is absolutely freezing, but myth has it that there is a week in May that is cold because of “ice heilig” or holy ice and apparently this is a 5 day period when it is cold during may and today is the day of Sophia the coldest of the ice spirits – well all I can say is that it is absolutely freezing!
We have taken so many photos but not had chance to upload them yet but they are on the way, just wanted to keep you up to date. Generally our hostel “the circus” is great, thanks to Victoria who lead the tour “Brewers Walking Tours” just I case you ever visit Berlin! Catch you on the next blog!