A visit to such an emotive place as Berlin had the potential to be either enlightening or a depressing tour through other people’s misery. It turned out to be a mix. I found the sites we visited on the itinery of great interest but would I go to them again…..probably not, I’m afraid.
The Olympic Stadium was our first destination. It had just been given a 250 million pound refit but it was an austere place. Berlin FC now use it for their home games but you don’t need much imagination to picture it filled with the party faithful. The open air grounds to the rear of the stadium were used for marches and military demonstrations. The school boys who competed here in such events as running in gas masks and grenade throwing would of course be the Hitlerjugend of a few years later. The mass graves of more reluctant school boy fighters from 1945 have recently been uncovered……..
Prozensee prison was the start of the really dark underside of Nazi Germany. The firing wall and meat hooks are a horrid reminder, but the calls of the present day inmates adds to the erieness of the location.
In the earn is ash from the concentration camps. We went to the Wansee house after this and perhaps surprisingly I felt an even greater sense of evil in this pleasant lake side retreat where the “Final Solution” was disseminated to the State leaders. I suggested that the whole place should be bull-dozed. I think the suburban surroundings just made the evilness of the plan more chilling.
As we were staying in the East of the city, there were more than a few monuments to the eventual victors from the Soviet Union.
I think the visit to Sachenhausen was probably the most dreadful place. Enough has been said and written about the horrors of the Nazis but it is definately worth a visit to actually see just what the state is capable of without law or conscience.
I really liked Potsdam. Obviously the connection with Frederick the Great is strong. The town too appears to be recovering from decades of neglect. Although, as is apparent from travelling around much of the East of the city, what the Germans consider as ‘deprived’ compares favourably with the Paris suburbs or parts of London.
Berlin has also had a reputation for its nightlife and never being one to be shy……Elvis and dancing girls lightened the mood on Saturday night.
No visit to Berlin would be complete without seeing the wall. Some of the artwork was astounding but the rest left me unimpressed and agreeing with the music lover below!
Sachenhausen concentration camp was the destination on the last day. Hopefully the photos below give an indication. The casts of the inmates faces were especially striking. To actually see the location was disturbing. To actually stand where the inmates were murderered in their thousands is an experience that I don’t think I ever want to repeat.
Racial theories tested out by classifying inmates’ survival rates. The photos of the deceased were just as moving.
As I mentioned, the Soviets added their own ideological idea of remembering the dead. I feel uneasy with the term ‘liberators’ for the army of Stalin. Unfortunately, History is rarely fair. I wonder if the Gulags will ever be school trip destinations? Our trip ended in Central Berlin with the views from the Television Tower in Alexanderplatz. It really does show just how far the Germans have come since the dark days of 1945.
Pictures from the last day in Berlin. Not the lightest of itinaries but worthwhile I think.