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Published: June 22nd 2017
Geo: 52.5235, 13.4115
We started off the day early with a large breakfast. Taking Rick Steves' advice, we ate at 7am in order to arrive at the Reichstag (German Parliament) early and avoid the lines. Even though we were in the first group to be admitted, it took about 25 minutes to get through security (metal detectors, etc.) Jake got the pat down, but no weapons were found.
The Reichstag was originally built in the late 19th century as a home for the German government as established in 1871. It is the same building that mysteriously caught fire in 1933 just before Hitler's selection as Chancellor General. It was not used by the legislature from 1933 until the 1990s (no Nazis or Communists), when after the reunification of Germany, Berlin was chosen to be the capital city once again.
Heavily damaged during WWII, the building sat as an eyesore for many years. It has been redesigned from the inside out, providing state-of-the-art facilities while at the same time maintaining its historic exterior. Unlike Soldier Field, it is a classy mix of tradition and advancement. We ascended the new dome that provided a great view and information about surrounding areas of Berlin.
Outside of the
Reichstag, we paused at a memorial to the members of the Social Democratic Party who dared to vote against the Act of Enablement in 1933, which granted Hitler and the Nazis virtually dictatorial/martial law powers. All later ended up perishing at the hands of the SS and/or in concentration camps.
On our trip to the Deutsche Museum we stopped for coffee at Starbucks. The drinks are all called the same as they are in the U.S., as are the cup sizes: tall, grande, and venti. (We knew the cups were imported because the volumes posted in milliliters were not nice round numbers.)
Next it was all out German history, from 500BC to the present. Imagine the Smithsonian condensed into two floors... and we covered it all in about 3 hours. We can't even begin to describe the things we saw here, but let's just say it was an exhaustive collection and we absorbed as much as we possibly could.
We had a light lunch of salads, soups, and a flan, and then braved the U-Bahn to the Nordbahnhof stop, which was near a Wall exhibit. There we saw a better-preserved section of the Berlin Wall and learned more about how it disrupted
neighborhoods, daily life, and in particular, a church dating from 1894 (Chuch of Reconciliation, ironically) that was ultimately torn down by the East German government in 1985 because it was actually within the "shoot-to-kill" zone and hadn't been used by parishioners since the wall's initial construction in 1961. A new church/memorial has since been constructed on the site and features a service each day in tribute to the life and death of one of the individuals who lost his/her life in attempting to cross the wall.
It has been a long day, but everthing has gone according to plan. When we sit down and put our heads together, things have a way of working out better than one could imagine!
Tomorrow is another day of travel. We are boarding a train in the morning bound for our longest journey yet--to Amsterdam. We'll be in touch again as internet access allows. Until then, Auf Wiedersehen!
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