I have just got back from an amazing weekend in the German capital of Berlin. Although this was not my first visit (I went on an A Level History trip when I was 18) I had a completely different experience than before. Berlin is one of those cities that I could visit again and again, and each time would be different. It may not be the most aesthetically pleasing cities in the world, the majority of the city was bombed during the Second World War, but what it lacks in beauty it surely makes up for in its fascinating, yet painful and controversial, history.
This time I went to Berlin with some friends from university. Our visit was focused not so much on the history of the city but more on the quirky and vibrant areas that have blossomed since the end of the East and West divide in 1989. From the aerial views of the East Berlin TV Tower, the eerily abandoned GDR amusement park, underground techno clubs in abandoned power stations, to the East Side Gallery and the more sobering Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin continues to be a magical and fascinating mix of culture and history that makes it one of my favourite cities to visit in Europe. There is still so much that I want to see in this city so I doubt this will be the last time I visit!
Here are just a few of the pictures I took whilst there:
And, to keep in the spirit of my book blog, I did manage to persuade everyone to visit a couple of book related places:
The Bebelplatz memorial remembers the first mass book burning site in Nazi Germany. On May 10th 1933 over 20,000 books were burned. The memorial, created by Micha Ullman, consists of a glass plate that is set into the cobbles in the middle of the square (making it easy to miss if you have no idea about the site as there are no signposts leading you to it). Underneath the square are white, empty bookshelves that can apparently fit the 20,000 books that were burned. Unfortunately I was unable to take a good picture to demonstrate this, I think the best time would be to go in the evening. However, there are some amazing pictures of it online.
I also bought an interesting book at the information centre under the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. In the Bunker with Hitler recounts Bernd Freytag Von Loringhoven’s experience of being in close contact with HItler in the last months of the Third Reich. Published in 2006, Loringhoven speaks publicly for the first time since those events at the end of the Second World War. Most of the memories he recalls come from the journals he filled up whilst in prison after the war, when he was captured by the Allied forces in Russia. There were other books I wanted to buy, such as The Portable Hannah Arendt by Hannah Arendt and Helga’s Diary: A Young Girl’s Account of Life in a Concentration Camp by Helga Weiss, but they were so expensive that I am going to try and find cheaper ones online.