My history geek side came out in Berlin. I wanted to learn about WWII, the Third Reich, and the split of East vs. West Germany to see how it was presented in Germany. Unlike some other countries that deny and avoid talking about the dirty past, Germany does retain the history narrative to remind themselves (and the world) to never repeat this mistake. While strolling around the city (in most of Germany), I noticed gold plaque on the ground with names of the Jewish residents that were taken away during the war, a symbolic way to acknowledge the Jewish lives lost.
As mentioned in other posts, the Sandeman’s free walking tours are very informative and I even went on the Third Reich tour in Berlin, which went in depth on the rise and decline of the Nazi party. They even have a tour that takes you to one of the concentration camps, but I didn’t have the heart to go on this tour.
After the war, Germany was split into East vs. West. The Berlin Wall was brought down in 1990 and there’s now a trail of red brick representing where the wall used to be. Visiting the wall is a definite must! Check out the East Berlin Gallery covered in graffiti, then bike or tram over to the other side of the city to see the remaining Berlin Wall as it once was, the guard towers are still there!
Other spots to check-out:
- Brandenburg Gate: used to be the city gate
- DDR Museum: interactive way to see the lives of people in East Berlin
- Checkpoint Charlie: Berlin Wall crossing between East and West Berlin
- Holocaust Memorial: A modernism memorial up to your own interpretation. For me, as I walked through the memorial, I didn’t know what direction to be aware of and I had no idea what to expect or what would come towards me. I imagine this is how the Jewish people lived during this time, always looking over their shoulder and had no idea what would happen to them next.
Part of why I love traveling is to learn the history and culture of the place. But even if you’re not a history geek, Berlin is a lively city and has a lot going on.