Exploring History in Berlin, Germany


It has been five-and-a-half years since I last visited Germany (September 2007). I’ve never shared these photos before, so it’ll be fun reconstructing a small portion of the trip. I suppose I’ll start with what has to be on most first-time visitors’ agenda: the Berlin Wall.

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As the two photos above show, portions of the wall still stand in parts of Berlin. The city has done a very good job of acknowledging its history and the role the wall played in it. In places where it has been torn down, the city placed markers in the pavement outlining where the wall once stood.

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Other pieces of the wall were saved for an entirely different purpose: art. Numerous wall panels have been transformed into the new creations you see below. Art is such a powerful force for recognizing the past while imagining new possibilities for the future.

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When I travel, my default setting is history. I want to see the significant historical landmarks. So, of course, I had to head over to Checkpoint Charlie, the Cold War-era border crossing point.

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My initial impression was less than stellar. What you don’t see in my photos are all of the souvenir shops selling T-shirts, key chains, and other Checkpoint Charlie chachkies. I might be in a minority, but I don’t like seeing historical landmarks become over-commercialized. But still, if you’re in Berlin, you really should pay a visit.

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One of the stunning discoveries of my trip is what you see in the photo above. There are still pre-World War II era buildings across Berlin, and those that survived the Allied bombings remain pockmarked from bomb fragments and other types of debris. In contrast, the Jewish Museum Berlin (below) is sleek and modern. I highly recommend visiting this museum. It is simply stunning and yet another of Berlin’s monuments remembering Germany’s history.

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I am walking through the museum’s Garden of Exile in the picture above. It is designed to be a disorienting experience meant to symbolize the experiences of those who were driven out of Germany. Below you see one of the museum’s Voids (an explanation is also included on the previous link). The art installation on the floor is called “Fallen Leaves,” but each individual piece is immediately recognized as a face.

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I still have a few other photos I’d like to share, but I’ll do that in another post about Berlin. That one will include pictures from the Pergamon Museum.

Bonus photo!

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The London Philharmonic Orchestra happened to be in Berlin at the same time, so I was fortunate to see one of its performances. Stellar.

 

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