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Published: July 12th 2018
Arriving at CC
(The only angle possible to not have McD's in the background... ahem)
(Checkpoint Charlie, Topography of Terror (Museum), Holocaust Memorial, Brandenburg Tor)
Soooooooo we kind of slept in until 10:30am by accident lol, so we started a little later than planned today. Oh well.
We made our way to Checkpoint Charlie to start the day - formerly one of the main check points between East/West Berlin There's a bunch of tourist stuff there (I hate that there's a giant McDonald's beside it and in all the photos), but I just wanted to show Mom the signs and the little hut before heading off to the remnants of the Berlin Wall and to the Topography of Terror (ToT). ToT is a museum located on the former site of the SD/SS/Gestapo headquarters; there's an outdoor section (including part of the Wall) and then a massive (and super detailed) indoor rection. Inside is amazing - a real detailed look from the rise of the Third Reich, to the entire timeline surrounding the Jews and other victims of the Nazis (including a section on the 'euthanasia' program which most museums don't seem to cover), to the aftermath of the War. It doesn't matter how many museums/memorials I go to here in Germany, I'm always left
with new information each time, especially when they have personal stories/anecdotes.
There are tons of quotes, articles (with English abstracts! YES!) and photos galore. I find the photos and quotes are always the most impactful though - they show you the ugly truth and nuances of what was being done. The photos really are horrible in that regard... there were many of the prison/camp guards during their "Summer Retreats" laughing it up and having fun in the sun - it's so bizarre and terrifying to think of the horrible and inhumane things they'd do on one hand, and then they'd also be a 'regular human' on the other. There were also many photos involving the round of up of the Jews (in the Ghettos, walking to the trains, etc.) and the death of prisoners in and around the camps - whether it be trying to escape, or the firing squads, hangings, etc. Incredibly morbid and tragic, yet I suppose it helps drive the reality of the situation home. It's one thing to read about what was happening - it's a whole other thing to SEE it.
One of the things I really love about visiting Germany is that
A letter that was sadly accurately
(The rest of the ToT pictures I'll put at the end for those of you interested)
they do not shy away from their history and their past - they make a point of having it clear for everyone to see in the negative light it so deserves. There was a section at ToT that was all about the aftermath of WW2, how guards and workers at the camps were forced to clean up the camps, to (properly!) retrieve the dead bodies into trucks for the Allied forces, etc. There was also a big section on the Trials that ensued along with a lot of commentary on how cowardly those were who took their cyanide pills as a way to escape prosecution.
I'm not going to get political on here - let's just say when I think back to the giant sign I saw at Dachau that says "Never again" and at Auschwitz that says "The one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again" ... I'm increasingly cynical that it will in fact be "never again". I think a lot of my fellow tourists feel the same as a certain name was on many people's lips.
After that we walked up to Brandenburg Gate and the Holocaust Memorial.
I love this memorial - it's so simple, with +2500 slabs/pillars, all different heights and in rows, and yet somewhat it's left open to interpretation since there's no obvious connection to the Holocaust. According to the architect (Eisenman) the design is meant to produce "an uneasy, confusing atmosphere" and "to represent a supposedly ordered system that lost touch with human reason". I really like that explanation.
It was getting close to supper time after that, so we went off in hunt of the only thing I truly cared about eating in Berlin: grilled pork knuckle. It really doesn't taste all that different from pork butt/shoulder, but still, I've had in Munich a few times and love it. We ended up going to 'Maximilians' - had my pint of beer, bread dumplings, sauerkraut and my knuckle 😊 Yum!
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