Berlin Red City Hall Building "Das Rote Rathaus"
Berlin is a city filled with excitement and fascination. Since the fall of the wall, both sides are now open to visitors to explore the rich cultural treasures and historical heritage, as well as to have fun and people watch while sipping a Berliner Weisse mit Schuss or having a delectable German poppy seed pastry or Italian gellato.
The Berliner Bear, mascot of the city, can be seen just about everywhere in one form or another!
Gedaechtniskirche - The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church was a symbol of hope for the war ravaged city's civilians. As Berlin lay in ruins from American and British fire bombing parts of the bombed out church still remained standing. Church services were held outside in the ruins.
It is said that the women of Berlin resisted valiantly against the approaching Soviet Communist Armies. The ‘Rubble Women' (Truemmerfrauen) salvaged bricks from the ruins of the city to again rebuild the city piece by piece. Children also worked at hauling bricks or water from the rivers. Survivors lived in bombed out shells of buildings.
My family had a garden outside of the city with a little cottage which most likely saved their lives. The children, now grown, recalled how they could see and hear the bombs falling on the city not far from the garden.
Tempelhof - Airlift Memorial
Many of the American and British pilots who had bombed the city during the war later became heroes in the Berlin Airlift as they risked their lives to bring food into Berlin past the Soviet blockades.
Lt. Halverson, an American Mormon, who served in Berlin as a transport pilot after the war is known as the 'candy bomber' for dropping small parachutes with chocolates for the children of Berlin. He feared reprimands from his superiors, but they approved and other pilots also became candy bombers dropping goodies donated by soldiers from their rations.
in the footsteps of the early medieval Hanseatic League,
the Teutonic Knights, princes and kings, artists, builders and destroyers,
and our Prussian German-American family heritage made for a very
fascinating, beautiful, and sometimes bitter-sweet trip.
Our travels took us to Berlin, Germany and northeast to the old German Hanseatic merchant trading cities of Danzig (Gdansk, Poland after '45) and Elbing (now Elblag) and along the ancient Baltic Sea amber trading route.
The Brandenburg Gate
Remnants of communism still can be found in the east part of the city as well as buildings still showing damage from Allied fire bombing.
The menacing communist 'guards' with machine guns are gone however and so are the gigantic Marx and Lenin statues.
Who says socialist are no fun? These young socialists in former East Berlin had a demonstration with lots of noise to protest against capitalism. The banner on their brightly colored vehicle says, "And I stupid yuppie still believe I have a future." Police escorted them as they chanted "Capitalism is boring" and other slogans. People in the cafes, the nuevo-riche, watched attentively then continued with their evening meals without much discussion.
Demonstrations are quite common in this part of the world. It's considered healthy to be able to speak out loud. The real danger is in not being able to speak out. U.S. President Bush was in Berlin shortly before our visit. There were still anti-Bush signs and security tape evident. People I spoke to from Belgium, Germany and Poland like Americans, but think the government's foreign policy is unjust and they fear that US foreign policy could lead to another world war.
Sagas and Books
Did you know Berlin has more bridges than Florence?
The picture above shows the Berliner Dom and the Spree River.
Berliners can have a quirky sense of humor. So since they are remodeling the Brandenburger Tor (Gate) they've covered it with soccer socks and shoes.
This beautiful old building is the opera house, I think! There is so much to see and experience in Berlin. We covered a lot of ground on foot, double decker bus, and U-bahn and S-bahn. You can walk through the centuries in Berlin's landmarks and museums.
The picture at the left (below) is where the Nazi book burnings took place near the university. Before that time, a poet wrote, "When books are burned, people will be next."
"Ich bin ein Berliner" -- US President John F. Kennedy is still loved by the Berlin people for his compassion and his speech at Rathaus Schoeneberg when he said, "I am a Berliner."
13th C Gothic Cathedral
Never a dull moment...
"And I stupid yuppie still believe I have a future." -- Protestors at Kathe Koellwitzplatz
The poster of the pig says, "My flesh belongs to me. Bite yourself in your own butt!"
The 5 Monkeys
The East German army refused to take up weapons against their countrymen which is one of the reasons the communists could not retain power, said our friend who had lived under communism. Another reason the wall fell non-violently was that the East German Communist government was so corrupt and the Soviet Union had become too weak and bankrupt to intervene anymore.
Portions of the wall that remain have become an outdoor art gallery and memorial to the hundreds of people that died trying to flee into West Berlin to freedom.
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