Have You Seen Us Lately? Dot Org

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A Brisk Walk Through Brisk Berlin

We emerged from the subway last night at Breitscheidplatz into the brisk Berlin air and walked a few hundred meters to our hotel. While crossing the street I just barely caught a glimpse of an oddly deformed building sitting just half a block away. This morning we ventured off on a walking tour of Berlin, and on our way to the meeting point, we grabbed a closer look at what turned out to be Kaiser William Memorial Church. And just as I suspected… it was indeed deformed!

The 1890 protestant church was badly damaged in a WWII bombing raid in 1943.

The damaged spire of the old church has been persevered as is and its ground floor has been converted into a memorial hall. A new church was later erected nearby that consist of an octagonal building and a hexagonal tower. Both of them are made of a concrete honeycomb containing soothing blue stained glass blocks.

For some reason, it seems that churches are THE place for street performers. On the sidewalk out front was another set of breakdancers. Once they got into their routine it became clear why they pick this oh so holy location…

…it’s cuz they are performing death defying tricks, and need to be as close to the man upstairs as possible in case there is an accident.

Don’t think that’s the last of the churches we’ll see. Remember, we’re in Europe here folks.

After a brief train ride to Hackescher Markt, our tour guide took as to Berlin Cathedral.

Yup, really original naming right? Jakob the guide explained that a lot of the landmarks in this city are named exactly for what they are. So for example, a new museum would be called “The New Museum” it’s not rocket science people!


Q: If you had a memorial dedicated to the victims of war and tyranny, what would you call it?

A: The National Memorial To The Victims Of War And Tyranny.

If you got it right, give yourself a gold star and a pat on the back.

Speaking of school, next door to the self describing memorial is Humboldt University where Mr. Albert Einstein studied. I know I know… it should have been named The School Where Einstein Studied. But it’s not. So deal with it. Across the street from the school is Bebelplatz, best known as the site of the book burning ceremony held by the Nazi’s in 1933.

Under the plaza is a monument to remember all 451 of the degrees that once engulfed the many volumes of “non-Germanic” novels. Under the glass are empty book shelves.


Perhaps the most famous landmark of the city is The Brandenburg Gate.

And rightfully so. Many historical figures have passed through the gate. From Napoleon, to Hitler, to JFK and now ME! It was here that Ronald Regan said:

“Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

Ah yes, the wall. The former location of The Berlin Wall can be traced all around what was once East Berlin. Where the wall once stood is now marked by a two-stone wide cobblestone path. Here you can see it slicing across the road on the other side of the gate.

You can see now why this walking tour was so brisk. There is just SO MUCH history in this city. We were just barely skimming the surface today. Of course one of the most significant times in this country was the reign of terror when Adolf Hitler was in power. Standing above the area where his bomb shelter was located sent chills down my spine. The same bomb shelter where he shot himself after ingesting poison. WHOA. That happened here!

How’s this for irony… literally a block away (no pun intended) from where Hitler breathed his final breath is The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. It’s a very cool geometric memorial. It’s meaning is best left up to the individual to interpret.

One of the fascinating things that Jakob pointed out was that apparently Hitler — the loon that he was — actually had a sliver of logic in his warped mind. Once he realized that the “pure” Germans were going to be defeated in the war he came to the conclusion that they actually weren’t the superior race, and so he ordered all of the Nazi monuments destroyed.

Today the German people are very conscious of their efforts to not try to cover up the horrible past. Definitely a commendable move on their part. How else can one learn from past mistakes?

One of the only remaining Nazi buildings still standing is what was once the Ministry of Aviation…

…where much of their world domination planning sessions took place. The building is now Berlin’s Ministry of Finance. I’m not sure how you could go to work each day and walk the same halls that those heathens once walked. Creepy!

On the other side of the building is the last remaining still-standing section of The Berlin Wall.

It was getting late, and the 4-hour walking tour was coming to a close. We had just scrapped the surface of a lot of the landmarks in Berlin, and tomorrow we will dig deeper into some of the more interesting POI.

As fate would have it, we were in town just in time for the Festival Of Lights, thus tying it all together! Get it? Festival Of Lights? A.k.a. Hanukkah. The Jewish holiday. What a coinkiedink!

It’s a little early in the year to actually be related. I’m not sure if there is an intentional connection or not.  But what I am sure of (from what I’ve been told) is that the Festival Of Lights is a public art festival where artists illuminate areas of the city in interesting ways. Here are a few of some of the more interesting images that I was able to capture despite the lack of a tripod. I’m as steady as a rock!

And here’s an animated GIF of one of the light sculptures on display.

Despite it’s checkered past (Berlin, not the light sculpture above) this city is definitely one of my favorite cities thus far. Top 5 for sure.


Jason, you never cease to amaze me. But one of these days we have to have a long talk about apostrophe’s.

When you get back I’ll have a sizeable list of DVDs to recommend centered around Berlin. One of my all-time favorite films is “Wings of Desire” about an angel in Berlin who decides to give up being an angel in order to feel human emotions. (it sounds sappy but it’s not). Of course there’s “Run Lola Run”. And the recent Oscar winner “The Lives of Others”. By the way, Channukah is never this early. I’m pretty sure it’s always in December.

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