Our Blog - Berlin June 2007
We went to Berlin in the middle of June. As is normal with our trips, it was cool and rainy at times. This was the first time for either of us to Berlin. We stayed in what was formerly "West Berlin" although most of the nice places to see were in the former "East Berlin".
This is what remains of the Kaiser Wilhelm church. The church was built in the 19th century and was bombed during WWII. What remains houses a small museum and they have rebuilt the church and bell towers on either side. The remains are meant to be a reminder of the destructiveness of war. This is within the former "West Berlin" area.
We cross now into the former "East Berlin". This is the "Berliner Dom" or Berlin Cathedral. This was reconstructed, like almost everything in Berlin, after the war. The black soot is actually not "soot" but is smoke damage from the war, where the smoke has penetrated and permanently colored the stone. In the crypt are the remains of German kings and Kaisers going back hundreds of years.
Checkpoint Charlie, the most famous of the checkpoints going from East to West Berlin. This was the American checkpoint and the gatehouse was rebuilt/replaced after its' removal in 1989.
This is the sign at Checkpoint Charlie, announcing your change into the East German sector of Berlin, which was under Russian control.
This is the Reichstag, which was the original seat of power of the German Parliament. This was gutted by fire in 1933 and Hitler used this destruction as a way to consolidate his power against his enemies. There are differing opinions of who started the fire (most believe the Nazi's started it, and blamed the communists, which allowed Hitler to take complete power). It is once again, the Parliament for reunified Germany. There is a glass dome over the Parliament, which is meant to indicate the transparency of the government.
The Brandenburg Gate, built in 1791 as a triumphal arch for King Frederik Wilhelm II. During the division of Berlin, this was sort of a DMZ ... it was cordoned off from both East and West Germany and was a "no man's land". When the wall fell, this was an area of great celebration.
Schloss Charlottenburg, or the Charlottenburg Palace. This was built at the end of the 17th century by King Frederik I for his wife, Queen Sophie Charlotte.
Marian Kirch, or Church or St. Mary, this is a medieval church on the East Berlin side of the wall. The cross on top of the Church, when the sun is shining, forms a reflection of the cross on the TV tower (see the last picture). The joke is that this was the Pope's revenge on the atheist Communists who built the TV Tower.
This is part of the facade of royal palace, which was destroyed in the bombing of Berlin in WWII and not rebuilt by the Communist government. However, they took this balcony section and moved it to a building next to the palace and basically, stuck it on the front.
The Berlin Wall is over 96 miles long, and encircled West Berlin. It was built to keep East Germans from crossing into West Berlin, and therefore, into Freedom. With the wall now removed, this 2-stone wide symbol has been laid on the exact path of the previous wall, to indicate where the wall stood.
This is a large section of the Berlin wall. Most of it has been removed although there are some areas where there are still small sections, such as this one. You can see the holes where people took chisels to the wall after the fall. The sections that remain are fenced off so that nobody can get near them to damage or destroy it in any way.
The "new" synagogue in Berlin. The original synagogue, also at this location, was destroyed during KristallNacht in 1938 when the Nazi's looted Jewish synagogues and shops throughout Germany. Originally, it was the largest in Europe and has since been rebuilt as houses an exhibit on the history of the original building.
This is one of the new Unified Germany government buildings. There are a set of these buildings on the banks of the river that flows through Berlin. They were specifically built to be all glass, again to show the transparency of the new government. You can see the walkway that crosses the river to allow people to walk between the buildings.
This is the East German TV tower, which was built to symbolize the superiority of East German/communism. You can clearly make out the cross reflecting on the ball of the tower.