Archive for the ‘Holocaust Memorial’ Tag

Berlin – Spandau, Tiergarten & Potsdamer Platz   10 comments

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Our last day in Berlin and we headed to the suburbs. My guide-book said Spandau was nice so that was our first port of call

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We found the castle after wandering through some industrial complexes. It did look rather nice but it reminded me of Caerphilly Castle in South Wales. All the photos you see make it look the castle is out in the countryside, surrounded by fields and accompanied by the chatter of birdsong. Th reality is that both castles are smack in the middle of industrial towns and the only noise was traffic

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We had a wander about but had no real enthusiasm for another castle and tried to find a way across the river/lake into the town.

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The only way was over the busy road bridge and it was beginning to feel like Spandau might be a little over-rated. When we found the town our impression was confirmed. Pleasant enough, a couple of interesting buildings, but nothing remarkable. It was just an ordinary town with ordinary shops and restaurants. It reminded me of Hereford where I was heading the day after.

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Not really what we wanted and we were soon back on the S-Bhan heading into the city. Considering we’d had 3 weeks of exploring, having one slightly disappointing experience among everything else we’d done wasn’t a bad return

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We pitched up in Europa Park and I took TJS and TBF up on onto the roof of the mall to see the monkeys

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After a good lunch we took a stroll around. It’s not one of Berlin’s better known areas but I really liked it

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This is the very odd but likeable Wasserklops or Water Meatball Fountain in Breitscheid-platz

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Again for no apparent reason I really liked it

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No idea what this equally weird sculpture is. I almost got run over (again) taking the photo

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This is the weird “Flow of Time Clock” by Bernard Gitton

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We headed back towards the city on foot through the vast Tiergarten park. Crossed by lakes and waterways and a vast network of trails it was a relaxing way to work off lunch

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We emerged in the middle for a view of the Siegessaule Monument or Victory Column. Another fearless venture into fast-moving traffic to get this shot

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You can climb to the top but I had a better idea for city-wide views

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We continued on through the park before emerging back into the urban world at Potsdamerplatz

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It was such a clear and sunny day I thought another tower-top view was in order so we headed up Europe’s fastest lift to the Panaroma-punkt viewing platform

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The views were better than the Fernsehturm as you were outside, albeit peering through a metal grille. A view out over the Sony Centre and Tiergarten

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West Berlin

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The Daimler Centre

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Panorama shot west to east

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The Holocaust Memorial

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The Reichstag

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East Berlin

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Leipziger Platz. The death strip ran right through here

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South West panorama

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If you pay someone some money they take you up in this balloon. Views must be superb but you have to suffer the ignominy of being associated with one of the worst movies of all time!

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The Berliner Dom and ever present tower crane. Berlin will be great when it’s finished

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The Fernsehturm tower

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Brandenburg Gate

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Siegesaulle Monument

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Looking to the base of the Deutsche-Bhan  Tower

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Cracking views to end the day, nearly.

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The Funsters needed an ice cream fix but the Sherpas had a last couple of historical sights to bag, tucked away among the towers and suburbs

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Along a tree-lined back street and hidden to the extent you’d miss it if you didn’t know it was there is an old Berlin Wall watch tower

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No idea why they left this one standing but it’s quite an unusual thing to see among banks, skyscrapers and shopping malls

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A short walk away is this famous car park. Well obviously it’s not the car park that’s famous but what used to be here

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It’s the site of Hitlers Bunker. The place where he committed suicide when all his plans went pear-shaped. At the end of the war it was detonated and buried but its been excavated and re-buried a couple of times since. This sign is all there is to remind us of the evil that took place down there

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We wandered back to collect the Funsters. The towers of Potsdamerplatz were looking majestic in the late afternoon light

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The one on the right below is the Panorama-punkt tower we were on earlier

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We headed back to the apartment, packed, had a nice Italian meal down the road and that was that for our visit to Berlin. You can probably tell from the tone of the posts and my comments that Berlin was fulfilling rather than the same love I had for the other cities. To try to compare Berlin to say, Rome is rather unfair. Both are completely different in style and history. I can be certain in saying I’m equally glad I went to both. Berlin provided a stark contrast to the Italian cities and some lessons in modern history that everyone should be aware of and learn from. Like all the other cities I’d happily return to Berlin, it’s just that I’d rather re-visit the others first

Just one more city and one more post to conclude the journey

 

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Berlin – Historic Mitte and Around   10 comments

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On to the last major city of our trip. Another sleeper train but a much better experience this time. Fuelled by more chimney cake from station kiosk, ready a few (worrying!) minutes before the train departed

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The train left on time and arrived on time. We had a nice leisurely evening watching the stations roll by before turning in for a proper night’s sleep

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Arriving bleary eyed but excited in a new city

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The huge and magnificent glass palace that is Berlin Hauptbahnhof

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The apartment was still being cleaned but the owner kindly let us use the facilities and dump our bags so we could do a bit of sightseeing. We were close to the historic quarter so we headed there along the Spree river

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First stop was the Reichstag building.

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One of Berlin’s most famous landmarks but more on that in a later post

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We were heading for the Brandenburg gate we passed this memorial to the Sinti and Roma gypsies murdered by the Nazis. Just a simple pool and fountain with a fresh flower laid every day. One of the list of Nazi crimes that I wasn’t aware of. It became a regular theme of our stay in Berlin, a city recovering from an association with the darker parts of history

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The Brandenburg Gate was built in 1791 as a triumphal arch based on the Acropolis in Athens.

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It was the heart of the city then and still to an extent is now with the Reichstag on its doorstep and several embassies around Pariser Platz where it sits. Its one of the city’s most recognised landmarks

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The sculpture on the top is the Quadriga, the winged goddess of victory, her chariot and four horses. Napoleon stole the statue after one his Prussian victories but it was liberated and returned by a Prussian general a few years later

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As an aside my guidebook said we should check out the DZ Bank Building with its free-form sculpture and glass atrium

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The metal sculpture is actually a meeting room

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Pariser Platz with Under den Linden stretching away into the distance

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Into the dark past again with a visit to the Holocaust Memorial. Its official name is the Denkmal fur die Ermordeten Juden Europas (Memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe). Over 6 million people were mercilessly slaughtered.

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This is the descriptive text from my guide-book:

“For the football-field-size space, New York architect Peter Eisenman created 2711 sarcophagi-like concrete stelae (slabs) of equal size but various heights, rising in sombre silence from undulating ground

You’re free to access this massive concrete maze at any point and make your individual journey through it. At first it may seem austere, even unemotional. But take time to feel the coolness of the stone and contemplate the interplay of light and shadow and then stumble aimlessly among the narrow passageways, and you’ll soon connect with a metaphorical sense of disorientation, confusion and claustrophobia.”

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As I walked around with the family in silence I felt that disorientation mentioned above. It also entered my head as whether this was right sort of monument and indeed more pertinently whether there is any monument that can in any way represent the senseless murder of so many people

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The photos can’t really give the same impression as being there and making you think about what group of people can coldly and calculatingly do to another. I read that many Nazi officers spent hours working on plans and strategies to make the slaughter more efficient, how they could maximise the number of people murdered on a daily basis. I still cannot make the mental connection as to how anyone intelligent rational individual could think like that. Chilling.

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After sombre reflection and discussion among the family we decided we couldn’t face the excellent underground exhibition just now. We had a very fine brunch on Unter den Linden before walking down towards Alexanderplatz past the statue of Frederick the Great

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This is one of the buildings of the Humboldt University. Marx and Engels studied here and Einstein taught here. This building is locally known as the Chest of Drawers. Lenin did some of his study in this place.

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The Schlossbrucke Bridge

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The Berliner Dom Cathedral with the Fernsehturm Tower alongside, a nice mix of old and new

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Stepping over the Schlossbrucke effectively takes you on to an island in the Spree. The island is home to a collection of major museums that give the island its name Museuminsel. This one is the Altes Museum, home to Greek, Roman and Etruscan artefacts

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This is the Pergamonmuseum home to Ancient world and Egyptian treasures

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And the Bodemuseum with its medieval sculptures

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The museums are world renowned and a couple of days of your time to see them properly. Not reall our things so we wandered back along the river to the apartment to settle in

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Afterwards, time for a proper look at the Reichstag

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