The day we arrived in Berlin had ended with heavy thundershowers. But the next morning was nice and sunny, at least the first few hours. A brief walk from our hotel brought us to the Holocaust Memorial, Field of Stelae or Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
|Guido at the memorial|
The memorial which opened in May 2005 was constructed to honor the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust. It is located in the center of Berlin on an area of 19.000m2/4.7 acre near the Brandenburg Gate and consists of 2,711 concrete blocks of the same width and length but various heights. The blocks are placed in rows on an uneven walking surface. While they are only 0.2m/7.9in tall at the outside they get higher and higher when approaching the center of the memorial.
|Towards the center|
With a maximum height of 4.8m/>15 ft towards the center they seem to close up all around you the further you walk in. This indeed creates a very strange atmosphere of feeling kind of lost and empty. Of course there has been a lot of controversy and criticism about the memorial's construction. Without going into further detail, I personally think that this memorial gives a strong statement and does not leave its visitors unimpressed.
Another dark chapter of Germany's history took place at the time of the country's separation into West Germany and the German Democratic Republic (GDR). There are several areas in Berlin with white crosses to honor those who were shot dead when attempting to escape the GDR.
The next picture however hold very strong, positive memories for me. A group of friend and I decided to celebrate New Year's Eve 1989 in Berlin.
|Photo credit to DPA/ZUMA Press|
It was the most unforgettable New Year's Eve I ever celebrated. When we got to the Berlin Wall, it was already packed with people sitting, standing, celebrating on top of it. Before I climbed up myself, I acted as "wall pecker" and was able to chisel a small piece off that wall. It is dark green and still in my possession. Chatting, singing and celebrating New Year's with foreigners from all over the world was an incredible experience. The next day I took the subway to the Eastern part of Berlin, across those "ghost stations", which had not been used in 30 years. I found the home of my aunt who had lived in Eastern Berlin with her husband since WWII had ended. They have three sons. This was the first time we ever met.
Back to the year 2015: Guido and I continued our stroll through the center of the city:
|Brandenburg Gate and Paris Square|
|Reichstag - German parliament building|
|Soviet War Memorial|
|Victory Column (or "Golden Lizzy")|