Saturday, July 24, 2010

GERMANY TRIP BLOG - DAY 18 – 6-9-10 – E. Berlin Walking Tour – Burned Out Church

We got up around 7:00. Nice variety of food, including a star fruit (cut up to decorate, but I snagged the slices and ate them – Mmmm). I also had 3 hard boiled eggs, cereal, and a super treat – mandarin orange slices in Jello with an inch of custard on top which had a single, fancy piece of choc. in it. I mixed it all up and ate it. Delicious!
Met a couple from Wisconsin and told them I'd be performing in their state in Feb.
We prepped to get ready to go and I stretched my tight muscles while Matt checked email.

Berlin (means "swamp") started out as two little villages. It was founded in 1287.
In 1600's the canal brought trade and the Hohenzollern family became powerful and started ruling.
Berlin was where they (the royal family) lived.
1871 – Germany was founded and Berlin became the capital.
1914 – WWI
1920's - Treaty of Versailles divided Germany
In 1923 German marks lost value hourly, so people spent it as soon as they got it, which is how
Friedrichestreit turned brothels and cabarets into the most expensive shops in Berlin.
1930's - Democracy wasn't working out. This allowed Hitler to rise to power and generated
WWII. 90% of Berlin was bombed.
After the war, the Allies split Germany and Berlin into 4 pieces.
When the Soviets blockaded W. Berlin, trying to get them to submit, the Berlin Airlift dropped
food and supplies every 3 minutes.
W. Berlin said if an E. Berlin citizen put one foot in W. Berlin, they'd become a W. Berlin citizen.
Masses of people escaped to W. Berlin (which comprised of barbed wire).
1961 - The Wall was “enhanced” with something harder to get through, like cement.
1990 – Germany reunited.

Park land is filled with trees that belonged to royalty.
World's 2nd biggest mall in E. Berlin contains "Matt's” sausage store.
(We didn’t have time to visit it though.)
Zoo – First in Germany. Has most species in one place in the world. Has a 2 year old polar bear who was orphaned, raised by the zoo, and became the Berlin mascot. (Didn’t see it either.)
The Potsdamen Palace is 70% reconstructed (after WWII bombing)


BERLIN CATHEDRAL – original built in 1905 – dome restored

NEW NATIONAL GALLERY – original 1860's – rebuilt 1970's

TV TOWER ANTENA – built in late 1969
1,200 feet tall (tallest spire in Berlin). Built to celebrate the communist govt. and show the power of the state. At the time, the govt. was removing crosses from all the churches around town. The architect retaliated by designing the huge mirrored ball on the spire so it reflects a huge cross when sun shines on it. Nicknamed, "The Pope's Revenge."

The island originally housed Berlin's first museum. Currently the museums are undergoing internal renovation (supposed to be done in 2015).

SYNAGOGUE DOME – original - 1860's – Dome & façade rebuilt in 1990
Oldest, finest synagogue in Berlin. Desecrated by Nazis in 1938. Bombed in 1943.

OLD MUSEUM – 1830's – photographed back & front.

NEW PALACE (being built now) & OLD PALACE (built in 1600's, bombed in WWII)
Currently just pictures on material hanging by construction site.

RED TOWN HALL – E. GERMAN CITY HALL – built in late 1800's – rebuilt post WWII

GERMAN HISTORY MUSEUM – original 1695 - rebuilt 1960's
Oldest building on the boulevard. Was the Royal Arsenal or "Zeughaus". After the war, the weapons were removed. Contains 8000 artifacts from German history – starting at 1 B.C.

NEW GUARDHOUSE MEMORIAL –built in early 1816 – rebuilt 1990's
After Berlin Wall fell, turned into memorial. Tomb of Germany's unknown soldier and concentration camp victim. Statue is replica of Kathe Kollwtz's "Mother with Her Dead Son". Her son was killed in WWI and grandson killed in WWII. She died towards the end of WWII as well. The sculpture originated as a very small piece.
The mother is supposed to be a universal symbol (not someone specific). The figure of a mother holding her dying son is similar to the Pieta, done by Michelangelo and located in St. Peter's Basilica depicting Mary holding Jesus.
The dome has an open circle directly over the statue that allows sun, rain, snow, etc. change how the statue looks (and feels). Plaque says, "To the victims of war and tyranny"

STATE OPERA HOUSE – built 1743, rebuilt 1850's, bombed in 1941, rebuilt in 1943, bombed in 1945

HUMBOLDT UNIVERSITY – built in mid-1700's – repaired in 1950's
Marx, Lenin, brothers Grimm, and more than 24 Nobel Prize winners studied here. Einstein taught here before teaching in Princeton in 1932. (He left a year before he'd have been thrown in jail and likely killed by the Nazis.)

Ruled Prussia 1740-1786 & est. it's military, intellectual, and cultural might.

OLD LIBRARY – built 1700's – rebuilt now

ST. HEDWIG'S CATHEDRAL – built mid-1700's – rebuilt 1990's.
Nicknamed "The Upside-Down Teacup". Asked how to build it, Frederick the Great slammed a teacup on a table.

Represents the space it would take to shelve all the books that were burned by the Nazis in the Bebelplatz square in 1933. 20,000 books (like Einstein's) were banned. Universities and students were ordered to toss them in the bonfire. The monument is a white, square room, filled with white, empty shelves, that would hold 20,000 books. Over the top of the room there's a glass window, so people can look down into it.
Near the glass, there's a plaque, with a quote from where Heinrich Heine. In 1820, he wrote, "Where they burn books, in the end, they also burn people." Nazis hated Heine – Jewish before becoming a Christian. His books were among the 20,000.

MANHOLE COVER – city map


The gate is decorated with golden grain (a staple of Russia). The USSR cycle and hammer symbol remains carved over the windows.

Map of city
Original tiles from 1931.
There are words at a ticket counter that says "Under the Linden Trees" This used to be the name of a famous street, filled with thousands of Linden trees. In the 1400's it went from the king's palace to the hunting grounds. In 1600's powerful people built houses on it to be nearer the king. Hitler replaced the trees with Nazi flagpoles. Some of the trees were 250 years old.
During the Cold War, it was cheaper for W. Berlin to pay E. Berlin to let them run their train straight through E. Berlin (without stopping, on pain of getting shot at, of course), rather than going all the way around. This kept the lines in working order, so after the cold war, they reopened the stations again.

Didn't take pictures. Destroyed by Russians shortly after WWII ended. Rebuilt in 1996. Only for the richest of the rich clients. There’s a “game” people play, seeing just how far into the hotel they can get before being turned out. These days, it’s best known as the place Michael Jackson dangled his son Blanket from the balcony.

One of 14 gates in Berlin's old city wall. This one went into the district of Brandonburg.
Built as an arch of peace , crowned by the Goddess of Peace, showing Mars sheathing his sword.
QUADRIA – the chariot statue on top of gate – 1791
Stolen by Napoleon in 1806 and put in the Louvre for 7 years. Prussians defeated him and stole it back, renaming the woman "Goddess of Victory".

The artist who created the fish wanted it as a stand-alone statue, but was forced to put a wall around it.

RIECHSTAG WITH DOME (known as "the Beehive")
Original building from the 1890's had a dome that was more like the top of a rounded square – with 4 sides.

Outside the bricks – W. Berlin
Inside the "V" – E. Berlin

Originally used as advertising for a newspaper - now takes tourist up.

HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL – "Memorial to Murdered Jews of Europe" - finished 2005

2,711 (as many as could fit into the space) hollow, gravestone-like pillars, coated with anti-graffiti paint. Any graffiti just washes off. The paint was invented by a subsidiary of the company that made the Zyklon B gas used in Nazi death camps.

Controversial because it’s a memorial just for the Jews, but so many others were also killed. The govt. promises to built everyone a memorial….eventually.

The original underground bunker was so solidly built, over several decades it took several attempts to finally destroy it. Hitler and the Nazis stayed there during the war. It's where he and his wife (married just the day before) committed suicide with cyanide (then Hitler shot himself. Then his officers burned his body, as he’d asked, so that he wouldn't be dragged through the streets like Stalin. His body was burned, but the gas-fueled fire wasn't hot enough to destroy his bones. Soviets took his jawbone (easy to I.D. through dental records because Hitler had rotting teeth). Eventually, all his bones were burnt to ashes and scattered on the Rhine so there's nothing left of the monster.

MONUMENT TO JUNE 17, 1953 UPRISING – long photo on the ground
Depicts the reality of communistic community. It’s a real photo of a 1953 uprising against the communists.

Former headquarters of Nazi Air Force. Survived WWII bombing because aim was inaccurate. Mural created in 1953 to show communist ideal (and sparked the creation of the Monument to the June 17, 1953 Uprising).

Rebuilt 4 times since the division of E. & W. Berlin (see photos from Checkpoint Charlie Museum)
Photo of 1974 photo
100 miles, 13 feet high, 16 foot tank ditch, "death strip" 30-160 feet wide, 300 sentry towers.
Existed 28 years (1961-1989).
Boarder guards fired 1,691 times & made 3,221 arrests.
5,043 documented successful escapes - 565 of these were boarder guards.

MARTIN GROPIUS BAU – built in mid-1800's? – rebuilt 1987 – now a museum

Areal Map showing Berlin Wall in red - W. Berlin was inside the wall.

Photos of The Wall & boarder patrol
"Berliner Mauer – 1961-1989" – the marker where the Berlin Wall was

CHECKPOINT CHARLIE – rebuilt - actors portray the American soldiers
It’s the most famous gate because it's where most of the foreigners passed through. On the other side, (not rebuilt) was the E. Berlin patrol and extensive gates, wall, guns, etc.

1/5 of Berliners were French. Frederick the Greats' Royal Guard headquartered in the square. The name is part French "Gens d'Armes".

CONCERT HALL – early 1800's

FRENCH CATHEDRAL – early 1700's – rebuilt 1990's
Not a true cathedral – never had a bishop's throne in it. “Dome" in French was mistranslated by the Germans because "dom" in German means "cathedral.”

GERMAN CATHEDRAL – mid-1700's – rebuilt 1980's
Jealous Germans envied the French Cathedral so much they wanted one of their own. The two buildings are nearly identical on the outside.
Like the French Cathedral, not a true cathedral for the same reasons.

Horribly hot weather. We toured (mostly) E. Berlin walking 4 1/2 hours in 90 degree heat without enough water, food, or bathroom breaks. Forced my body to ignore all discomfort and carry on. Terribly uncomfortable, and the heat kept getting worse and worse and worse.
Heather, our tour guide, was wonderful. She got a Master's in German history and loves Berlin so much she's (effectively) moved here. Heather loves history, esp. German history, and particularly Berlin history. Snagged her card so I can email her questions.
I focused on just taking good photos. Trying to first shoot the larger photo – for orientation when I took close up shots. Didn't take a single note about what I was photographing, (as I usually do).
Chatted with her every once in a while, but she talked to everyone in our group of about 20. I asked if she'd ever heard of James Burke's historical documentaries, and she hadn't, so I wrote down his name, the name of a few of his series, and the website. (Matt also tipped her $10 Euros.)
Matt had been on this tour 6-7 years ago, and remembers when the East German Palace of the People was still standing (last time he was in town). It was flattened, because of what it symbolized. It's such a thrill for me to be where Matt was while he worked here. Two weeks, separated such a great distance, makes the time seem to stretch as well.
At the Brandenburg Gate, we only had 30 minutes to find and eat lunch.

Heather said Germans don't celebrate the falling of the Berlin Wall on Nov. 9 because that date is usually when BAD things happen in Germany. She described how the Wall fell. The Berlin ruler claimed (later) that he "didn't know what was going on because he'd just gotten back from vacation" so he said the "wrong" thing. He just answered questions off the top of his head that allowed E. Berlin citizens to just walk into W. Berlin, immediately.
While waiting for Heather to finish talking to other tourists (and get handed $5-10 Euro bills in tips for her excellent service), Matt helped me figure the names of what I’d photographed on the tour. Heather helped. Then I went through them all again, asking her when the original buildings were built and reconstructed. There are a very few buildings that survived WWII bombs, but not many.
Matt offered me immediate ice cream, but I needed real food. He suggested the Italian restaurant we went to last night, and that sounded great. They were pleased to see us again. Felt like the world was moving when we sat down to eat dinner, but once I drank and ate for a few minutes, things stabilized. We each had a pizza. I ate half of mine.
We ordered the special ice cream made by the restaurant that was Sicilian. It's flat, thicker, with nuts and fruit in it, choc. drizzled over the top, plus berries artistically placed.
Before we walked out, I asked our server from last night for cards to pass out, and he snagged a few. I also went to the cook's window, just like last time, and said, "My compliments to the chef" in Italian. We were showered with “Ciao!"s as we left.
Matt said it was a 6 minute walk, but it was more like 10-15 to get to the….

It was incredible to see first hand what the WWII bombs did. Very little of the pretty stuff remains. Matt let me walk all around the outside and take pictures. He'd seen it before, because it was across the street from his hotel when he worked here.

NEW BELL TOWER – a separate building, as tall, I think, as the bombed spire would have been that's located beside it. Tall, square, filled with ugly looking glass squares.

Right by the church is the functioning, new, add-on, created in 1961. Looks incredibly ugly from the outside – tall gray rectangle (blocking good shots of the church) with little squares filled with dark glass. But Matt let me inside……

Incredible. 11,000 six inch squares of stunningly beautiful deep blue glass, each surrounded by black building material to frame it. They start about 4 feet up, and continue all the way up the 6 story walls. The glass was given to them by the French as a reconciliation gift. From the inside, I could see that some glass had yellow or red as well. Each square of glass isn’t solid, but made up of abstract shapes, put together, to form a square.

Then we walked to the grocery store to pick up Matt's alcoholic "dessert". He hunted for a bottle of wine (which he declared delicious, esp. for the low price). I checked out the candy isle. Matt was particularly thrilled at the M&M bag that only contained black, red, and yellow M&Ms (in honor of the World Cup).
The walk back to the hotel (probably 10 minutes) was hot, my feet hurt, and my legs were tired. Matt asked me to put the food in the fridge, which I did. Got my camera battery charging.
Wanted extra towels to help dry my long hair. The night gal also has long brown hair and understood my need. She taught me how to say "bath towel" and "hand towel" in German. Europeans don't use washcloths. I always wind up using the end of the smaller towel.
Matt got online and learned Roger bought the motorcycle he was interested in. He showed me a picture. Roger said he kept checking how the bike was operating. Said he lost about 14 years of his life, checking and worrying that Matt would ride it and end up a smear on the highway, (and added that Matt's worth 14 years of his life). Aw….Matt has the sweetest brothers.
Washed my flip-flops in the shower before washing the dirt off my own body. Berlin is a dusty city.
Kept bonking my head on the liquid soap dispenser in the shower. I also keep smacking my head on the shelf above the lower shelf where I have my suitcase. Feeling better, stretched while Matt washed clothes. I worked on Diary and then asked for a Wine Kiss. Mmmm. Good wine.
Matt ate some of my pizza, then wanted to try the candy I bought. Matt and I both liked it. Hard on the outside, chewy inside. Sort of like a jelly bean, but the harder outside is thicker – more like an M&M. Have no idea how they made it taste so good. It’s just sugar with flavoring, but wow!! I think I should get another bag before we leave.
Back to Diary. Matt told me, with tears in his eyes, that he loved me. He also got teary, talking about how the Book Burning Monument hits him every time he sees it.
Downloaded photos and sorted yesterday's. Will do today's tomorrow. Matt went to bed right as I was getting leftovers from the fridge. Ate the rest of my seafood pasta, and the fruity parts of the other half of the pastry.
It's nearly 11:00. Read just the intro. to a Zombie anthology Matt got for me at the used bookstore. Excited to see the editor has also done an anthology about apocalyptic stories.

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