Friday, April 09, 2010

Episode 564: I Bought A (Presumably) Real Piece Of The Berlin Wall

We did a walking tour of Berlin in the morning, which made World War Two history come alive for me in a way that my lessons in school never could. I saw bits of the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie, and it's just so strange to think that about two decades ago, part of the city was entirely cut off from the area surrounding it. Powerfully symbolic stuff. I mean, the Communists went so far as to sever metro connections by preventing access to the stations. The Wall went up practically overnight as well. Just think of the psychological impact of that. We also saw a really cool memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe. That literally is the name: Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, or the Field of Stelae. It's a vast field of concrete blocks, all different sizes, and as you walk among them, the ground rises and dips, and by the time you reach the heart of the memorial, all these blocks are towering over you. The effect is alienatingly labyrinthine and yet not, as the placement of the blocks basically marks out a regular grid of paths. Fascinatingly abstract, but there's not a lot to tell you the significance of the memorial. Ironically, within sight of it is the carpark under which lies Hitler's bunker. Only a recently erected signboard gives any indication of the location's connection to the Nazi regime. The underground Information Centre of the memorial is well worth a visit. One room is particularly haunting. It's dimly lit, large screens on all four walls with the names of Holocaust victims projected on them, as their stories are recounted. We did a sort of pub crawl after dinner, but I didn't go to the club at the end of it. Headed off with a couple of people back to the hotel instead. (My golden rule when it comes to clubbing is to only go out with people I can trust to take care of themselves.)

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