July 31-August 3, 2018
Berlin is edgy AF. And just as cool as everyone says it is. It is PACKED full of history, from the Nazi related history, to the Berlin Wall, plus all of the current amazing graffiti, cafe culture, and over all too-kool-for-school style, there is never a dull moment here. (like I’m literally not even cool enough to be in Berlin, I’m pretty sure)
Anyways, here’s some photos of aaalllll kinds of things. (I’m getting a little lazy with the blogs, sry…)
Berlin Wall Memorial – I learnt so much about the Berlin Wall that I never knew about! And the history of this is still so fresh (the wall only fell in 1989!) The Soviet Union really f’d shit up for a lot of places in Eastern Europe after WWII
Soviet Soldier Memorial in Tiergarten – a memorial from the Soviet Union for their soldiers in Germany who were killed when the Berlin Wall was coming down
Checkpoint Charlie – the US army men are super creepy
Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas – Holocaust Memorial
Snippets from the East Side Gallery – bits of the wall that are continually updated with emotionally, politically, and spiritually charged art work
The Jewish Museum – super contemporary pieces commemorating the struggled of the Jewish population in Berlin, Germany, and around the world
We also took the time to do a tour of a nearby concentration camp, Sachsenhausen. It was amazing and horrifying. This camp was not primarily a Jewish camp, though there were many here as well, but rather it mainly housed political enemies of the Nazi state, antisocials (AKA – those who were homeless, beggars, accepted social assistance, couldn’t/didn’t work, physically/mentally disabled, those with illness), and other outliers such as those in the LGBTQ community. This camp initially held about 2,000 people in approximately 1937-38, towards the end of WWII and at the time of liberation in 1945 there were 50,000 people imprisoned in this camp. Let me tell you, having stood in the compound area I cannot even begin to fathom how they fit 50,000 people in this small area. The conditions of over crowding would have been horrendous. Everyday the inmates were woken at 4:15am, they had 45 minutes to do their morning personal necessities and eat a single piece of bread before they reported for role call at 5am sharp. After role call (which could sometimes take hours and hours if someone was unaccounted for – in other words, probably dead in their bunk…) the inmates were sent to do hard labour for 8-12 hours. Lunch consisted of another piece of bread (most likely moldy). Dinner was served in the dormitory common room, usually a vegetable soup, but you were lucky if you got any vegetables at all. Then it was lights out and time for bed in the dorm make for 148 people that actually housed over 500 inmates. Spending time here and hearing all of the absolute horrors that took place really makes one appreciate their life…
Role Call Square – there are only two buildings remaining, but the complex used to be filled with dormitories, cafeteria, etc
The “operating table” in which autopsies were performed on some deceased inmates – mainly autopsies were performed if the inmate was a part of a “scientific study”, the doctors would research the effects of diseases such has hepatitis and deliberately infect inmates with the disease and study the progression
A mass murder pit…
The gate to the prisoners complex; the iconic “arbeit macht frei” sign translates to “work sets you free”
The front gate and the path that the prisoners walk along to their awful fate…
If you stood in this zone you would be shot with no warning
The remains of a complex building that’s sole purpose was to kill people in large, efficient numbers. These are the 4 crematorium incinerators that had conveyor belts on them to efficiently cremate the many bodies each day
Sorry, the pictures and info from Sachsenhausen are pretty dark and terrible. But I appreciate my privilege to witness this and learn from histories mistakes in the strange current political climate. Obviously I don’t understand the horrors endured and I hope I never can understand those horrors, but I have an enhanced appreciation and increased knowledge of the holocaust by standing where those who suffered stood.
Berlin has a very unique way of owning and presenting the dark parts of Germany’s history. No where did I feel like history was “covered up” or viewed through rose coloured glasses. It is difficult to lighten up the holocaust. I honestly feel like Canada could take a note from the transparency that Germany has with their dark past. That is all I shall say on that.
Berlin was wonderful, again, sickly hot (not once did the temperature go below 30…), but wonderful. Onto a new country!
XO – Kris