Monday, July 14, 2014

Berlin - Day 3

Another reason we couldn't stay out late for the game was because we had reservations to climb the Richetagbsgebäude at 9:00 on Monday. We headed out of the hotel, grabbed some pastries, and took the metro to the Richetag. It was so cool! In 1933, right after the Nazis took power, someone (supposedly the communists) burned down the Richetag building. This act of terrorism is what prompted the parliament to give Hitler special powers that he never gave back. When the Richetag (and the surrounding government buildings) were rebuilt, the goal was to incorporate as much glass as possible representing a transparency of the new government (this is post-Hitler).

The mirrors on the cone inside the glass dome actually provide light into the parliament chambers beneath. Overall it was pretty cool! Here are a ton of pictures because its really a fascinating building.

From there, we headed to Hauptbahnhof to leave our bag in the lockers then went on to Alexanderplatz to find more breakfast and make our plan for the day.

We couldn't find breakfast so we grabbed a couple tiny cajun chicken sandwiches -- not cajun, but good! Then, we headed down to Nikolaikirche. On the way, we finally found a crane-less shot of the Rathaus. The church has been turned into a museum and is pretty lame.

From there, we headed back down to Checkpoint Charlie to see the Haus am Checkpoint Charlie aka the Wall Museum. It was a cluster****. Pardon my French. I'm sure there is a lot of really cool information and amazing stories somewhere in that museum but it is so overloaded that you can't actually find any of that. It feels like a maze of apartments were connected and each room was turned into a tiny, overloaded museum. The walls were completely covered with huge posters of text in at least 4 languages and there was no AC. The museum was supposed to be about the Wall, but it was really about everything in the whole world that was happening during that time period. There was a whole room dedicated to Ronald Reagan, another to Ghandi, and two for Vietnam and Korea. I get that these are important things and that, on some level, they are part of the Wall story, but for real by trying to convey too much, they end up conveying nothing. Pretty sure some folks escaped the East in this car, but the labeling didn't really explain the story well.

From there we walked down to the Jewish Museum. It was a really good museum. There was not much of a focus on the Holocaust but more on Jewish history overall. (Not to say they didn't touch it, it was just nice to hear about other parts of history). The whole building was designed to reflect the Jewish existence and is very well done. There is an empty tower with a vertical slit for light representing the Holocaust. The door was very loud to open and it was a very moving memorial.

There is also a Garden of Exile which is similar to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. It is a bunch of very tall concrete columns set on a slope that you walk through. It is very disorienting and really does make you feel out of place.

The rest of the museum follows Jewish history from the beginning to modern times and was very informative.

After the Jewish Museum, we went in search of lunch but ended up walking all the way back to the Jewish Memorial to find something! I had a meatball with potatoes and L had eggs with pork and potatoes. Both very tasty!

Then we headed to our last major stop: the Topographies of Terror. This is a museum about Hitler's rise to power, reign, fall, and judgement. To be honest, I didn't know much more about WWII than that we entered the game late, Hitler was in charge of Germany, and there were horrible concentration camps where 6 million Jews were murdered.

Topograpies of Terror was a ton of reading but it outlined the whole regime from start to finish and I feel like I have a much better grasp on the situation. It also has a whole section on the trials of Nazi war criminals which is another perspective I hadn't seen before. It really is a TON of information but its presented in a pretty manageable way and I highly recommend this museum to anyone who wants to know more about Germany in WWII.

Also, the protection section of the Wall is right outside.

After ToT, we followed the location of the Wall (memorialized with bricks in the road), stopped for drink in Potsdamer Platz then headed to catch our train to Hannover then our night train home! On the night train, we had the top bunks which sounds great but the air blew on us the whole night and was FREEZING!

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