For one of my weekend trips this past month, I went to Berlin, Germany. It was a very unique experience because Berlin is a city that is clearly deeply rooted in its history. I went on a walking tour of the city and was able to see just how well connected they are to the past. I have listed some of my favorite historical sites in and around the city!
- Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was a symbol of the Cold War. On August 13, 1961, Communist East Germany built the wall that separated East Germany from West Berlin to keep East Germans from escaping. The wall was erected overnight without warning, and the East German government referred to it as the “Anti-Fascist Protective Wall”. It was heavily monitored by the Stasi, effectively preventing anyone from escaping. The fall of the wall officially began on November 9, 1989. This paved the way for German reunification. Today, part of the wall still stands in the city.
- The Holocaust Memorial
One of the first things people think about when they hear Germany is probably Hitler and the Holocaust. Germans know that too. There are still survivors living in Germany today. Instead of ignoring this part of their history, they want to remember it to honor the victims and ensure nothing happens again like that in the future. The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is a memorial for the Jewish victims of the Holocaust designed by Peter Eisenman. In order to understand the design, one must step inside the memorial to fully understand and interpret the piece. This seemingly simple structure has the capability of allowing visitors to feel the isolation, loneliness, and powerlessness that Jews felt back then. It’s a captivating experience that one must personally see for themselves.
Speaking of the Holocaust, there is a concentration camp just outside the city in Oranienburg, Germany. The camp was in use from 1936 to May 1945. About 200,000 prisoners passed through there during that time, and there were 30,000 known deaths that happened there. The camp was used to set a standard for the creation of other concentration camps in terms of design and treatment of prisoners. Entrance to the site is free, but I would highly recommend taking a paid tour to fully understand the history and background of the camp. Most of the original buildings have been torn down, but there are several barracks left for viewing. Visiting the camp is highly intense and emotional, but it provides a great learning experience and a deeper understanding of history.
Berlin has many other great sites to visit, including Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag Building, and Checkpoint Charlie. These were just a few that left a deep impression on me, and I highly recommend seeing them!
The world awaits…discover it.