A Tale of Two Cities: A Dispatch From Berlin

Few cities are as defined by a single century as Berlin. The earliest records of Germany’s capital date from the 12th century, but the 20th century, the darkest mankind has known, completely dominates the city. There are still traces of pre-war Berlin, there are hidden courtyards and remnants of its imperial past but the spectre of the previous 100-years looms heavily.
 
Berlin, however, confronts its turbulent past head-on; it doesn’t shy away from its history. There are various monuments and memorials that range from the whimsical and the kitsch like the Checkpoint Charlie border crossing or the ‘Life in the GDR’ exhibition in the Kulturbrauerei to the sobering and the harrowing like the ‘Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe’ and the intact stretches of the Berlin Wall.
 
Above all, more so than most, it’s a tale of two cities. The old juxtaposed with the new, a progressive city striving to move forward but invariably weighed down by its troubled history. A city where the past is inescapable.
 
Thanks for reading,
 
Golgatha Kirche
The Golgatha Kirche– Early 20th century church in Berlin Mitte.
Friedrichstadt Palast
The Friedrichstadt Palast– A 1920’s theatre hall rebuilt in the former East Berlin in the 1980’s.
Berlin-Friedrichstrasse-Station-Berlin
Berlin Friedrichstrasse Station- Starting point for the “kindertransport” where nearly 10,000 Jewish children were evacuated to London in 1938. It straddled East and West Berlin during the Cold War.
Brandenburg Gate
Brandenburg Gate- 18th-century city gate. The only city gate left standing.
Potsdamer Platz
Potsdamer Platz- Remnants of the Berlin Wall in front of the Deutsche Bahn headquarters.
Stolpersteins.
Stolpersteine– 4 memorial brass cubes to the Jewish victims of deportation and extermination during World War 2. These are placed outside of the last known addresses of the victims.
Courtyard leading to Oranienburger Strasse.
Courtyard leading to Oranienburger Strasse- A tranquil hidden courtyard near the Neue Synagoge.
The dome of the Neue Synagoge in Berlin.
The dome of the Neue Synagoge in Berlin- Badly damaged during Kristallnacht and the Second World War, the dome of the synagogue peeks over the buildings.
Bebelplatz, the state opera house and St. Hedwig's cathedral.
Bebelplatz, Staatsoper (the state opera house) and St. Hedwig’s cathedral- A slice of old, Imperial Berlin.
Statue of King Friedrich II
Statue of Konig Friedrich II– Memorial statue of King Frederick the Great. King of Prussia from 1740-1786.
Berliner Dom and the TV tower.
Berliner Dom and the Fernsehturm (TV Tower)- Old meets new. East meets West.
Alexanderplatz and East Berlin
Alexanderplatz and East Berlin- You can see the city sprawl eastwards into a uniform grey with high-rise blocks littering the landscape.
Berlin Alexanderplatz
Alexanderplatz- Modern, grey and quite unattractive, Alexanderplatz embodies East Berlin.
A typical room in the GDR.
A typical room in the GDR (German Democratic Republic)- A recreated East German room in the Museum in der Kulturbrauerei complete with a picture of Erich Honecker, the leader of the GDR.
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe- Memorial to the millions of Jewish people who perished under Nazism.
Checkpoint Charlie Border Crossing
Checkpoint Charlie Border Crossing- A cyclist passes the old U.S checkpoint without a care in the world.
Berlin Wall Brick
Berliner Mauer (Berlin Wall) Memorial- These bricks run through the city where the old wall once stood.
A long stretch of the Berlin Wall in Kreuzberg.
A long stretch of the Berlin Wall in Kreuzberg- The graffiti sums it up quite nicely: “madness”.
The Topography of Terror Museum
The Topography of Terror Museum- Housed on the grounds of the SS headquarters during the Third Reich, this musuem gives a chronological history of the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party.
Adolf Hitler
Bust of Adolf Hitler- The architect of so much destruction and misery. Housed in the German History Museum.

 

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