Published: August 11th 2012August 11th 2012
Sometimes when I go to a new city, I don’t expect much. This is because in general they are the same. Berlin, however, is an exception. Clean, efficient, Berlin is modern done well. Strolling the streets, I was greeted with endless sights and marvelous architecture. And the people are nice too.
Growing up in America, the Germans always had a sort of bad reputation. They were always the bad guys in movies and were most often associated with Nazism and the Holocaust during primary school social studies lessons. This reputation was not only in stark contrast to how friendly they were, but also undergirds the intriguing history and transformation that the city has gone through.
My visits to the Jewish Museum and Holocaust Memorial Museum showed a well preserved, unabashed presentation of the events leading up to the tragic death of roughly six million Jews during World War II – about three for every one person living in Houston. I was fascinated by what brought the Nazi party to power, and terribly saddened by the enormity of their subsequent campaign of persecution. Coming face to face with such inhumane treatment towards fellow human beings forces one to examine
and question the core of the human experience, as well as wonder why the oppressive murder of civilians still occurs today. The undeniable relief that resulted from Allied liberation makes today's international hesitation on human rights intervention seem a bit silly.
I also visited sections of the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie, a famous border crossing. The informative displays brought to life the events of post-war Berlin. The trauma of dividing the city in two still lingers and is evident in the city culture today.
On balance, Berlin is a city of relevant history, modern design, and welcoming spirit – definitely one of the highlights of this trip.
There are more photos below