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Just back from Berlin...

  1. #1
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    Just back from Berlin...

    Hi all, we're back from Berlin and had a great time. Just in case anyone didn't know, after WW2, Germany and Berlin city were divided by a wall (sound familiar?) with the Communists in the East and the Allies in the West. This remained the case until 1989 when Germany was re-united.Things have changed a lot since we were last there. A lot of building is still going on as the old communist East German buildings are pulled down and replaced with more modern and stylish ones.




    Tourism and consumerism seem to rule the centre. For a hefty price, you can have guided tours by coach, but for a few Euro you can get a bus that follows virtually the same route! What was once a small but fascinating museum at "Checkpoint Charlie" - the main crossing between East and West - is now the Checkpoint Charlie "Experience". There is a museum of the DDR (Communist East Germany), and numerous other money grabbing enterprises.


    There are however, some excellent FREE museums and exhibitions.


    The rebuilding of the Berlin Palace
    The life of Willy Brandt, the post-war Chancellor of W. Germany.
    The Otto Weidt museum - to name but 3.


    The last one deserves a special mention. Otto Weidt established a workshop for blind and deaf Jews in an attempt to protect them from the Nazis before and during WW2. The workshop, down a graffiti covered alley , tells the story of his life and the workshop. At the rear is a windoless room, accessed through the false back of a wardrobe that covered the door. From time to time, Jewish workers hid there to avoid capture and subsequent death.

    OK, how do you know if you're in the former East Berlin? Simple, look at the pedestrian crossings. The E.German ones depicted rather stout figures while the Western ones have much slimmer, more athletic figures...

    a red man.JPG

    a uk crossing.jpg


    I won't write any more here. I'll post some photos with a bit more explanation.
    We're not here for a long time. We're here for a good time

  2. #2
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    Opposite the hotel was a public park with fountains, lakes and restaurants.
    1. A red squirrel

    b red squirrel.jpg

    2. One of the many bears in the park.
    b bear.JPG

    3. A super piece of art adorning a residential block beside the hotel.
    b wall art.JPG
    We're not here for a long time. We're here for a good time

  3. #3
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    Capt I enjoyed your post. Fascinating about the hidden room!
    Nice pics, loved the building art! Thanks.

  4. #4
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    One of the rather 'brutalist' E. German tower blocks that are being torn down.

    c oldblock.JPG

    To be replaced with modern buildings. All over Berlin the reconstruction is going on..
    c newblock.JPG

    One of the most dramatic reconstructions is the re-building of the Berlin palace. This was severely damaged by allied bombing during WW2, although the main walls remained intact. After the war, the communist E. German government insisted on destroying the remains in spite of fierce international pressure. For some reason, they did save many of the statues and decorative stonework. Earlier this century, it was decided to rebuild the palace and this picture shows in great detail, how it will look when completed in a year or so's time..

    Palace is centre picture....
    c palace.JPG
    We're not here for a long time. We're here for a good time

  5. #5
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    In 1936 Otto Weidt established a workshop to manufacture brooms and brushes. As one of his customers was the Wehrmach, Weidt managed to have his business classified as vital to the war effort. Up to 30 blind and deaf Jews were employed at his shop between 1941 and 1943. When the Gestapo began to arrest and deport his Jewish employees, he fought to secure their safety by falsifying documents, bribing officers and hiding them in the back of his shop. Though Weidt, forewarned, kept his shop closed on the day of the Fabrikation in February 1943, many of his employees were deported. Among those he was able to save were two non-blind young women in their twenties, and Hans Israelowicz. Nevertheless, one travelled to join her deported parents, where Weidt could support them with food parcels. All of 150 parcels arrived. Eventually she was deported to Birkenau herself. She managed to send a postcard to Weidt who promptly traveled to Auschwitz in attempt to help her. Weidt found out that as Auschwitz was emptied, she was moved to the labour camp/ammunition plant Christianstadt. He hid clothes and money for her in a nearby pension to aid her return, and traveled back to Berlin. She eventually managed to return to Berlin in January 1945, and lived in hiding with the Weidt's until the end of the war.
    After the war, Otto Weidt established an orphanage for survivors of the concentration camps. He died of heart failure only 2 years later, in 1947, at 64 years of age.

    This is Otto Weidt's workshop with some of the original benches and tools.

    ca otto.JPG
    We're not here for a long time. We're here for a good time

  6. #6
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    Do they still have The Museum of the Wall? I cried all the way through it in 1967.
    If we're ever in a situation where I am "the voice of reason", then we are in a very, very bad situation.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by jujube View Post
    Do they still have The Museum of the Wall? I cried all the way through it in 1967.
    There is still a Wall museum, but almost everything seems to have become a money grabbing opportunity. Thankfully there are, as I noted, some very good free exhibitions.

    cb wall.JPG
    We're not here for a long time. We're here for a good time

  8. #8
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    Well do I remember Check Point Charlie.

    Because of poor planning on my part (we had intended to fly from Berlin to Copenhagen), I had only bought a one-way transit visa through East Germany. We decided instead to take the train back out and had to go over to East Berlin to get the transit visa. At the visa hall, I was given a piece of paper with a number on it (let's say 321...) and indicated to wait til my number was called. Unfortunately, I had no idea what 321 sounded like in German so I was in a panic. Thankfully, a kind old gentleman who spoke some English said he'd sit with us and go up to the window with us to translate if necessary.

    Finally, our number came and we went to the window. They said my sister was too young (she was 14) to get a visa and would have to be added on mine as my "child". OK, no problem. Got the visa, paid the fee, did a little sightseeing and proceeded to enter West Berlin.

    Unfortunately, as the military guys at Check Point Charlie told us two tearstained girls later, the East Germans guards like to have a little fun with the tourists. Their idea of fun was to take our passports, refuse to give them back and periodically put papers in front of us and demand we sign them. Oh, and they like to bark orders, too. In German only. Finally, they let us go and we scurried across no-mans-land into the arms of the free world.

    Once we got over that, we had a great time in Berlin. On the crossing, though, on a night train, the guards would come into the compartment, demand our passports and visa and shout "MADAM, WHERE IS YOUR CHILD???" When the teenage me pointed to the teenage "child", they'd have a good laugh and leave. Unfortunately, every employee on the train had to do that so there wasn't any sleep that night.

    We were glad to get back to WEST Germany.
    If we're ever in a situation where I am "the voice of reason", then we are in a very, very bad situation.

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