Yes, technically I am back in America….but I still have a few posts to write! I haven’t posted anything yet about Berlin, where we spent our second long weekend. It is a raw, crazy, thrilling city–lots of energy and little money, awake all day and all night. The happenings of the past century are still very present.
The downtown areas were a kaleidoscope mixture of old and new, shabby and posh together with construction sites everywhere. Here’s the funky artists’ street…
The brand-new high-tech Sony Center….
Mass housing on the East side, monochromatic and severe, left over from before the wall fell…
The West side up-scale quarter with classical architecture…. (yes, that is the square from Run, Lola, Run)
The beautiful old Berliner Dom….
Even such stunning old buildings as the one above, however, have a blatant history. All the black is left over from a fire during WWII. The holes from bullets are easy to see from a few steps closer.
The city is simultaneously moving on and remembering. Below is the holocaust memorial, where it poured rain.
Before and after shots of the Brandenburger Tor.
And perhaps most striking of all, the site of the bunker where Hitler spent his last days and then killed himself. In a city where the past is so carefully documented–here was no monument, no museum, no statue or fancy new display. Just a rather dirty parking lot.
Our group was able to take a private tour of the Reichstag building, the main seat of German government. Only the outside is original–everything inside is completely modern.
As a physical mirror of the post-Unification emphasis on transparency and openness, most of the governmental buildings are largely glass, inside and out. We could often see right through the conference halls out the other side.
Inside the Reichstag building, the room where the Parliament meets.
The great glass dome, many stories tall.
Angela Merkel’s house fits with the new regime. She rents a private apartment in the building below, no more fancy or pretentious than others on the street. In the Reichstaggebäude, her office was as simple as the rest, door unmarked saved for a name plate inscribed with “Dr. Merkel.”
And finally, one for my fellow German 400 students–remember those endless Tagesschau news programs? Here is where they are filmed!