Sunday, 20 October 2013

Berlin - 2013/10

Berlin according to the travel books is very relaxed city, very laid-back. Unfortunately we usually struggle with the relaxation and always have fully packed schedule and rushing somewhere. We treated Berlin as catching up with the history lessons so we went on 2 tours to learn about the things we should learn in the classroom but never did.

Cecilenhof in Poczdamie - this is the place when big three (US - Truman, UK - Churchill and Russia - Stalin) met on 17 Jul 1945 to discuss post war future of the III Reich, which resulted in the decision to divide Germany and Berlin into 4 occupation zones.

Reichstag is the residence of the German parliament Bundestag. Until the fire in 1933, this baroque building was a residence of the parliament. A young communist from the Netherlands van dee Lubbe, has been blamed for the fire by Nazi party. Newly elected as an Chancellor, Hitler, used this accident to convince president Hindenburg to use article 48 and to call the emergency times, which resulted in suspending most of the civil liberties, burning all publications not called "Nazi" friendly and arresting opposition leaders. This all happened few weeks before the election. Adding the heavy propaganda, Nazi party managed increased number of the seats and with the allies managed to get the majority.

NSDAP  = National Socialist German Workers Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)
Naziz = is an abbreviation of Nationalsozialismus 

After Germany Unification, 3 Oct 1990 the building has be redecorated and became again the residence of the parliament. New glass copula has been built on the roof, which can be visited today free of charge. The in

The story of the photograph showing Russian flag flying over Reichstag taken in May 1945 is interesting - photo used by Red Army as symbol of winning the war as a Reichtag was considered by Red Army as a Nazi symbol. In reality the Reichstag never was re-built after the fire by the Nazi and never used by them, they built new chancery near. Additionally that photo has been censored. On the original photo the soldier has 2 watches so one has been removed to avoid accusation of robbery and additionally the smoke in the background has been copied from another picture to make it look more dramatic.

photos from wikipedia one the left original photo (2 watches, smoke) on the right after adjustment

156km Berlin Wall was built overnight on 13 Sep 1961. At the time Berlin was occupied by UK, USA, France and Soviet Union, this was time of the cold war. While UK, US and France invested into the infrastructure the Russian were taking the advantage which resulted in young professionals escaping to Western Berlin to make a better life. To stop it the wall has been erected surrounded by the death strip (all houses in the close proximity to the wall have been destroyed, covered in sand to easily spot the footprints and in same placed mined. The wall survived 28 years until 9-10 Nov 1989, the night the boarders between east and west Berlin opened, it actually was taken down in Oct 1990.
3 Oct is German Unity Day, is public holiday to celebrate the Germany and Berlin being reunified.
piece of wall near Luftwaffe building close to the grounds where SS and Gestapo HQ were
Brandenburg Gate on Pariser Platz - probably the most recognisable future of Berlin with the characteristic quadriga on the top. Originally this was goddess of peace Eirene but after Napoleon concurred Berlin in 1806 he decided to take it to his private museum in Paris. But when Prusia concurred Paris in 1814 it has been returned back to Berlin but since then it's called goddess of victory.
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is interesting made of 2711 slabs, each of them different size arranged in the grid pattern. The author newer reveled how to read it and why number 2711 forcing all to have its own interpretation. The pomnik has been opened in 2004.
Fuhrerbunker were air-raid shelters next to the Reich Chancellery. Today there is parking and the Chancellery has been replaced with the residential buildings. The Red Army tried to distroy the bunkers with no much success and they are made of 3.5m concrete. This is the place where Adolf Hitler married Ewa Braun and day later they both committed suicide (Hitler shot himself while Ewa took cyanide. Hitler was paranoid that the Stalin will used his body as a trophy and ordered to be buried. There is many theories - soviet claimed that they found the body of Hitler and the dental assistant could identify him based on the dental records while other theory says that he escaped to South America. It is believed that Hitler was addicted to amphetamines, took many pills and some of them were believed to be prescribed at the time to cure Parkinson's disease. 
Previous bunker is now parking and previous Reich Chancellery is replaced by the residential flats

Around the bunker was the III Reich Chancellery. In 1938 Hitler, decided that he won't be sitting the soap shop charged yound architect Albert Speer with the task of building new chancellery. And within 1 year with huge expense the new building was built (4k workers worked day and night). Speers was told to built the building that would make a impression on the people and was given a blank cheque. The Hitler's gabinet itself had 400m2. All has been destroyed except the red marble walls that were used to restore Mohrenstra├če station.

Luftwaffe building, is one of the few buildings that survived and were not destroyed, It has over 2k offices and today it is a headquarter of the Ministry of Finance.

Herman Goring, was a commander-in-chef of the Luftwaffe since 1935. He was highly decorated veteran of World War I. Addicted to morphine since 1923 when he was treated for his injuries. He was known for his extravagant test and parties. He was married to Emma Sonnermann (Hitler was a best man) and has one daughter Edna (Hitler was a godfather). As Hitler was not married Emma often played part of the first lady of the Reich . Gorring was a highest rank officer put before the Nuremburg Tribunal (according to pre-trial documents he was kept in Luxemburg prison where he was put on diet to loose 30kg and at the time he was addicted to 4g morphine a day, he had a high IQ of 138). He was sentenced to death by hanging but committed suicide by taking a cyanide he bough from the american guard.

Joseph Goebbels was a minister of propaganda, excellent speaker. At the tie Nazi party controlled 90% of newspapers so his job was relatively easy. On of his best idea was giving every family radio, which allowed him to use both medias for the propaganda. At the end of 1930 his job was done and his star didn't shine as bright in the eyes of Hitler but he remained loyal and committed suicide in the same bunker as Hitler together with his wife and their 6 kids (they were given cyanide while in sleep).

Heinrich Himmler chef od SS, gestapo, police and internal affairs. He set up the concentration camps, first of which was in Dachau near Munich on grounds of SS. Hitler himself never visited any of the camps himself. It is believed that to keep his importance intact he was behind the few unsuccessful attacks on Hitlers life in order to made him paranoid. After Berlin was taken over by a Red Army he tried to escaped dressed as lower rank gestapo officer but was stopped by the British patrol. During the interrogation he swallowed the cyanide he had hidden in the tooth feeling.

Olympic Stadium, the original plan was to host the 1936 Olympics on the stadium that was built for 1916 Olympics, which never took place due to the I World War. But after Nazi took the power they decided to use the Olympics for the propaganda and ordered building a new stadium in 2 year with the capacity of 50k. Berlin 1936 Olympics were the first olmpics where the relay caring the flame from the Olympia in Greece, which is still cultivated today.  The Nazi tried to stopped from the participation all Jews but under the pressure and fear of boycott they backed off. Although Hitler never presented the medal to the participant of the "wrong" race incl Jassie Owen, who was black American and won 4 gold medals in the sprint and long jump. He has been persuaded by Adi Dasler, the co-founder of Adidas, to wear his shoes - it is believed to be first sponsorship for a Afro-America male sportsman.

In Berlin there is many bears (some of them even jump) - the bear is in the the coat of arms and secondly there was initiative in last few years to take the art to the street and as a results over 300 painted bears appeared on the street of Berlin.

Great place to visit, especially if you can combined it with the family reunion. If there weather is good you bound to have a great time.

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