Berlin - 2014


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October 31st 2014
Published: November 16th 2014
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Stasi MuseumStasi MuseumStasi Museum

Politically correct carpet. PC in East Germany that is

Two days in Berlin - too little but it was all we could take off from work this time





Leonard Cohen once wrote the lines "First we take Manhattan then we take Berlin". We took his lyrics literally and, having visited Manhattan earlier this year, we headed off to Berlin for a weekend.



We have been to Berlin before, five years ago, and that was not the first visit to Berlin for neither of us. Considering how much we like Berlin and how easy it is for us to go there it is surprising how rarely we visit the German capital.



We only had two days to spend in Berlin this time so with limited time on our hands we could only squeeze in a limited amount of sightseeing. First we went to Bernauer Strasse to see the Berlin Wall memorial park there.



The Berlin Wall, the wall that for almost 30 years divided Berlin, ran along Bernauer Strasse. When the wall fell in 1989, 25 years ago this year by the way, and subsequently was demolished an elongated open space was created through Berlin. Along Bernauer Strasse this open space was
Stasi MuseumStasi MuseumStasi Museum

Karl Marx sculpture
dedicated to a memorial park/open air museum about the wall. In the memorial park they have recreated sections of the wall, erected memorials over the people who were killed when they tried to escape East Berlin and put up signs with historical information about the wall. Supposedly a short section of the original wall still stands there. It didn't look like the original wall though, it looked like it was rebuilt.



Half a block away from Bernauer Strasse an iconic photo was taken when the Berlin Wall was erected in 1961. The photo shows a young East German soldier right when he defects East Berlin by jumping across the barbed wire which is marking the border. Today there is a sculpture hanging from a wall not far from the spot where he performed his famous defection.



Next site we visited was Charlottenburg Palace. In spite having visited Berlin before we haven't seen this palace before. It is a lovely palace so it is worth visiting. One of the reasons we haven't seen Charlottenburg Palace before is that near Berlin, in Potsdam, there are a few other palaces, palaces so spectacular that they make even the wonderful Chalottenburg Palace come out looking
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Propaganda posters
like a shack in a shanty town. The palaces in Potsdam are often referred to as Sanssouci and we will write about them in some other blog entry some other year.



The last place we visited in Berlin was the Stasi Museum. Stasi was the East German secret police, an organisation which main purpose was to gather information on East German citizens and others. In other words, they spied on everybody and every scrap of information they could get their hands on was collected and filed in large archives. Stasi infiltrated pretty much all of the East German society and the amount of information they gathered is staggering.



The museum is housed in the former Stasi headquarters. In the museum there are displays telling the history of Stasi, explaining their methods and also exhibitions on what life in Eastern Germany was like. The museum was interesting but we are disappointed that there was so little information about the gigantic archives Stasi is famous for. Most of the archives is preserved and we would have liked to know more about them. All we saw during our visit was one photo and that was not even
Stasi MuseumStasi MuseumStasi Museum

Conference room
in the museum...



It was five years ago since we were in Berlin last time and this visit was only a very short one. Hopefully it won't take another five years before we go back and we hope we will be able to stay a little longer next time.


Additional photos below
Photos: 24, Displayed: 24


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Stasi MuseumStasi Museum
Stasi Museum

Spy camera made to look like a button
Stasi MuseumStasi Museum
Stasi Museum

Music magazines, Levi's jeans and Disney characters were some of the things that were forbidden in Eastern Germany. Stasi tried hard to ensure that the youth weren't corrupted by western decadent culture
Stasi MuseumStasi Museum
Stasi Museum

The museum is housed in the former Stasi headquarters.
Stasi archives Stasi archives
Stasi archives

We are disappointed that there was so little information about the gigantic archives that Stasi is famous for. Most of the archives is preserved and we would have liked to know more about it.
Wall paintingWall painting
Wall painting

Just a better than average wall painting
Alexander von Humboldt used to live hereAlexander von Humboldt used to live here
Alexander von Humboldt used to live here

One of the greatest naturalists and explorers of all time Alexander von Humboldt used to live in the building where our hotel was. In Central and South America he is also known as an important human rights activist.
Berlin Wall memorial parkBerlin Wall memorial park
Berlin Wall memorial park

Todesstreife, the death strip. The Berlin Wall wasn't one wall, it was two parallel walls with an open area between them. The name of this open area was the death strip
Plaque marking the wallPlaque marking the wall
Plaque marking the wall

Plaque in the ground marking the spot where the wall once was
Remaining section of the Berlin wallRemaining section of the Berlin wall
Remaining section of the Berlin wall

Supposedly this is a short section of the original wall. It didn't look like the original wall though, it looked like it was rebuilt.
Remaining section of the Berlin wallRemaining section of the Berlin wall
Remaining section of the Berlin wall

Same wall, the other side
Remaining section of the Berlin wallRemaining section of the Berlin wall
Remaining section of the Berlin wall

We throw in yet another photo of the wall
MemorialMemorial
Memorial

Memorial over the people who died while trying to defect to west
Iconic photoIconic photo
Iconic photo

Half a block away from Bernauer Strasse an iconic photo was taken when the Berlin Wall was erected in 1961. The photo shows a young East German soldier right when he defects East Berlin by jumping across the barbed wire
Der MauerspringerDer Mauerspringer
Der Mauerspringer

Today there is a sculpture hanging from a wall not far from the spot where the soldier Conrad Schumann performed his famous defection.
Charlottenburg PalaceCharlottenburg Palace
Charlottenburg Palace

In spite having visited Berlin before we haven't seen this palace before. It is a lovely palace so it is worth visiting.
Charlottenburg Palace parkCharlottenburg Palace park
Charlottenburg Palace park

Picture from the palace park
Reminder of the HolocaustReminder of the Holocaust
Reminder of the Holocaust

Plaques with names of people who perished in the placed outside the house where they used to live
Anhalter BahnhofAnhalter Bahnhof
Anhalter Bahnhof

Anhalter Bahnhof, today a ruin, was during World War II used for deporting Jews to concentration camps
Street named after Hans and Sophie SchollStreet named after Hans and Sophie Scholl
Street named after Hans and Sophie Scholl

Hans and Sophie Scholl were two siblings who were active members of the resistance organization White Rose. They were executed in 1943 for their protests against the Nazi regime


16th November 2014
Stasi Museum

STASI RUG
Here's a tough question for you Ake. Was this carpet hand or machine made? How big was it? My guess is machine made as it would be a nice piece to distribute to every household. If it was handmade it would elevate its value. Either way as a propaganda rug it is a fascinating piece.
17th November 2014
Stasi Museum

Hand made or not? The size?
I don't remember the size but I can make a fairly good estimate. It was probably over a meter long but not much. I have no idea if it was hand made or not. My guess is also machine made. /Ake
16th November 2014
Charlottenburg Palace

ChARLOTTENBURG
Now that's a Palace! Magnificent.
16th November 2014
Reminder of the Holocaust

Beauty and tragedy
Wow, what a fantastic visit to one of my favorite cities! Your visit was so full of history and my heroes! Your hotel was in the great Humboldt's house, you saw a street named after Sophie and Hans Scholl, and visited the important Stasi Museum. I was in Berlin for a couple of weeks staying with a friend who grew up in East Berlin. She said that her aunt, whom no one in the family liked, was a member of the Stasi. She said that 1/3 of all East Germans were somehow forced to spy for the Stasi--scary, thinking you didn't know whom you could trust! Those plaques with the names of those who perished in the Holocaust were so sad--I saw them also in Santiago, Chile, for those who perished under Pinochet. Such beautiful cities, such past horrors. So important to remember! Thanks so much!
17th November 2014
Reminder of the Holocaust

1/3 is probably close to the truth
I have also heard that one third of all East Germans spied on the other two thirds. Try imagine living in a society that works like that. That's a scary thought. /Ake
19th November 2014

We love Berlin
We only been there once but look forward to going back. It is a great city. We'd like to rent an apartment for a month. Enjoyed your blog.

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