On Saturday we visited the "ddr" museum. It attempted to give a glimpse into the life of an east German by showing products, clothes, furniture and general lifestyle info (including some crazy DDR tv!) Good stuff, but it was overcrowded and not very inviting (maybe indicative of the east?!)
On Sunday we woke up and walked about 500 meters to the site of Hitler's bunker and his death. This site is pretty hard to find because the German government is not very keen on advertising this due to the threat of it becoming a shrine for neo nazis. In fact it wasn't until the world cup was held here just a few years ago that it was identified with a plaque! The site today is nothing more then a parking lot. Underneath which remains the walls and floor of the bunker, albeit completely filled in with sand. The bunker is located on the former east and remained more or less in tact until well after the war (albeit covered over). The Russians, who controlled the east, left much of the WWII damage unfixed for many many years after the way. Hitler and Eva Braun killed themselves at this spot in Berlin along with Goebels and his family. The body's were damaged during shelling and partially burned. There was a lot of controversy and uncertainty about what happened to the bodies. Following the collapse of the wall Russian records show that after attempting to burn the bodies, the remains were buried, in secret, not to far from Berlin in Magdeburg. After a few years the remains were unearthed and cremated with the remains being scattered in a river. but even that account is contested..so we'll probably never know.
The wall itself ran right THROUGH the hotel we were staying in. Our hotel was built after 1989 but there are some buildings where the wall run's right down it, some streets that the wall cuts in two. It's incredible really to think that this wall existed and divided this city like that for so long. Some people could literally look out there window and view a completely different world. In front of the hotel was "no man's land" and only 500m's or so down the street is the Brandenburg gate! Much of the area that the wall once occupied, in this part of town, has been given to various countries for their embassy's including the US and Canada.
Of course we visited checkpoint C (or checkpoint Charlie). At one point this was a 10 lane crossing point, but today there's not much left. a replica of the original guard shack surrounded by lots of placards and info. The before and after photo's are very striking.
On Monday we visited the German historic museum. I'd highly recomend this, it covers German history...All of it!
After the three hour drive to Ilsenburg we started the actual work portion of this trip. It's too bad we didn't have just a bit more time though because the next town over is Nordhaused, famous for the "mittelwerk" where the germans built thousands of V2 rockets! they were built INSIDE a tunnel system, cut by slave labor, towards the end of the war. The allies took all the remaining rockets following liberation, after which the russians sealed the tunnels. They have only recently been opened back up and you can tour these today. It looks exactly like it did at the end of the war! Also outside of nordhausen is the small Dora concentration camp. A small but brutal example of the worst of humanity.
Maybe next time...
|2009 10 Berlin|