Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Wall

Day 6.... the final full day

The 'Topography of Terror' is the name of the documentation center that sits near what is left of the Berlin wall.  This center sits right next to the original 'Gestapo House' - a secret police prison that unspeakable treatment of people took place.  This location is also the Reich security headquarters.  The energy here is very different depending on what area of the site you go to.

The Wall
What is left of the wall stands with graffiti and small and large worn holes in the concrete. The wall itself isn't that thick, only 18 inches, and 12 feet high.  It is here that I watch people young and old, from all over the world including Germany watch, inspect, laugh, take pictures and experience.  I thought I'd feel like I did at Bernauer Srause, but I didn't.  I felt more hope and victory standing in each section.  I looked at the graffiti, some written in the 70's, some later - with simple words such as Why, to birthday wishes, to no longer understood largely worn off letters that I can only imagine what they say.  The rebar inside peeks out in several areas, like arms that are reaching from the binds of the concrete.  In one area the hole looks like someone took a wrecking ball to it, leaving a three man wide size gaping space with the rebar warped from the impact.  It's tall, and as you look to your right on the East side, you see that there were bunkers right there, keeping people from getting that close to the wall.  On the other side of the wall lies a busy four lane road, cars and bicycles whizzing by constantly - in the days of the wall being up no one could get that close to the wall. 

The Trench
Next to the wall is a trench made to uncover the cellar headquarters.  The area has many glass boards with clippings of articles, artifacts from the secret police, photos and information about the movement, resistance and people; while behind are the excavated remains of the headquarter's cellar.  Here there is so much information it takes at least an hour to read all of the sections and really absorb it all.  The feel here is mixed, some anger, sadness and confused actually. 

The House Prison
The Gestapo House Prison is no longer standing, but there is a perimeter marked next to the documentation center.  It is here that more than 15,000 people were tortured for information before they either committed suicide or were sent away to a camp or elsewhere.  The feeling at this site is interesting, more hopeful than anything else.  Sometimes I felt defiance and resolution, but more hope than anything in this area.

Across the street - West Berlin
Across the street is now the home of the German Parliament, and a large building that I never found out what it actually was.  This building looks a bit like an institution, but not that old.  There is a sculpture that represents the wall, people peering through it on one side, the other blood red handprints and marks seemingly represent the struggles that went on near the wall.  Along a fence is a cartoon depiction of the famous east German family that escaped their home by sliding down a homemade zip-line to the west.

We headed out for some food after exploring the wall and surrounding grounds.  We found a little German pub that had photos from many years ago all over.  The walls and floors were made of wood, and the inside tables were very sturdy.  We sat at the back of the restaurant, on benches along a long narrow table that wasn't wide enough for two regular sized plates to coexist  from each other.  In the center of the room is an old two-lantern light that is no longer used, as electric big Christmas like lights surround the room.  The food was fantastic and plentiful, and we left very happy.  Next up; Brandenburg Gate.


Brandenburg Gate
This gate has a long history, dating back to the 1730s as one of 18 gates in the walled city of Berlin.  It was replaced between 1788-1791with a beautiful twelve columns, and again in the 1800s with what we see today.  It was restored in 2000.  The gate is majestic.  It is dominant, formidable and gorgeous.  Many people were here taking photos just like us of this historic site.  I believe it was here that President Reagan urged for the fall of the Berlin wall in 1987, and two years later it happened.  Many celebrations are centered here, for this gate was clearly made for it.

The walk back to the train
We headed back through the Tiergarten to the train and discovered another site with tanks in front of it, the dome building and finally found an Absinthe bar near the apartment when I went a different way than we had gone before.  We all tried the Absinthe, I myself thought it was awful, super strong liquor that tasted like black licorice (I do not like black licorice or the taste of strong alcohol), but Ashley and Jared seemed to like it, they went on to have two more shots of the stuff, but different varieties.  I got a few pictures of the bar area, every bottle is of Absinthe, made all over.  Just before we left that place a group of about 20 young people came to the bar to try it as well.



Today's thoughts:
  • Did I mention how awesome the rhubarb spritzer/soda is?
  • Today is probably my favorite day in Berlin
  • So much amazingness all over the world, we in America need to get out more and explore!  OK well I definitely want to and will.
  • The wall was somehow how I thought it would be
  • The gate is just beautiful at night, and the cobblestone street is perfect
  • Absinthe + me = Nope
  • I really like Berlin




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