Frühling in Berlin (Uber-time)

Trip Start Feb 17, 2012
Trip End Apr 28, 2012

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Where I stayed
Hotel Berlin, Berlin
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of Germany  ,
Saturday, April 14, 2012

Guten Tag from Berlin!

Walking about Berlin is like walking around in a history lesson. Some good, bad and weird. Berlin has been bombed, destroyed, divided in two, rebuilt, re-unified all in the space of about 60 years. As you will see from the photos, it's been cold and raining (again!). Rain has followed me since Vienna.

Museum Island (as the name suggests) is an island in the middle of town that showcase all the historical museums. Another outstanding collection of Egyptian gear at the Neues Museum, highlight being the bust of Queen Neferiti. Anyone familiar with Egyptian history will know her. Lots of medieval stuff and a pretty decent Natural History Museum. Although, when you think of German history, the last 70 years or so immediately come to mind.
Long story short, after WW1 Germany signed the Treaty of Versailles, two of the points that pissed of the German people were that they had to accept total responsibility and pay massive repatriations - 130 billion Marks or about 450 billion AUD in today's money. Add to this an unstable political climate, they went through 14 governments in 12 years, non lasting more than 8 months. The final part of this perfect storm was the great depression of the late 1920's where unemployment rose to about 30% (in the roaring 20's Berlin was the third largest city in the world).

This unstable political climate paved the way for right wing extremism. Enter the National Socialist German Workers' Party. With the propoganda campain in full swing, they promised to re-build the economy and re-built the work force by re-arming the country (massively), pissing the Treaty of Versailles off and restoring national pride. They failed in '23 and Hitler was thrown in jail, they tried again in '33 and won a third of the Reichstag. From there, they said we'll take it from here and took over / got rid off / bought the remaining two thirds to assume total power.

Fast foraward to '39 after years of hate campains, all the "undesirables" had been rounded up, put into camp's / ghettos, Treaty of Versailles has been thrown out the door, Poland had been invaded, effectively starting WW2.

The astonishing things that you see in the museum's is how the population was seduced by the Nazi propoganda, electing them to office. A few German's said today the population today feel's guilt for the war as it was the people that put them their.

The Topography of Terror museum shows life from '33 to '45 under their brutal, ruthless rule. It's built on the site of the former Gestapo and SS headquarters, that fact alone sends chills up your spine. It's also sat right on the edge of a section of the wall.

The wall, the wall - after the fallout of the war, Germany was split up into 4 sectors, US, UK, France and Soviets. The 3 western powers stuck together and the Soviets decided to go their own way. As the Soviets didn't want people from the East to get out and have too much of an opinion, they decided a wall was to be built to keep the locals at bay. Going up 13 Aug '61, the Iron Curtain wouldn't come down until 09 Nov '89 when Hungary opened its borders, effectively allowing East Germans to get to the West. That new year's eve, excitement would it fever pitch when David "The Hoff" Hassellhoff would sing the classic "Looking for Freedom" on the wall. Believe it or not, that song spent 8 weeks at number one. 

The East Side Gallery is pretty cool, thats where all the Berlin Wall murals are painted. It kind of sums up Berlin really, it's pretty edgy, has a chilling history - but is brightly looking forward to the future. There are plently of family friendly things here to do, if that way inclined and Berlin is quite quirky, the Berlin Bear is everywhere and they have these big drainage pipes all over the place above ground, painted in bright colours that zig zag all over the place. The food is great, bratwurst, currywurst (be warned - never trust a currywurst fart under any circumstances, Jesus H Christ by the time important factors like volume, odour, etc are determine, its far too late) and sauerkraut makes everything better.

Head to Emma's place on the main drag as what makes a schniztel better on top of mushroom sauce, sauerkraut washed down with a wheat beer. Yep, you guessed it crispy, oily bacon. Unbelievable. One of the best meals I've had since the whale. I said it. I said it.

I was here for a week and I didn't get to see half of what I intended to. Berlin is a huge place, with alot to absorb and well worth the trip. Very liveable place indeed. Highly recommended.

Only a couple more of these lovely little updates to go.
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