Day 4 – Final day in Berlin (28/4/23)

After an excellent night’s rest, I was a changed man. I even managed a bit of breakfast!

Made it to the coach in time for our Panoramic Berlin tour. To my dismay, the 52-seater coach was rammed, with very little legroom. I was forced to sit in the middle at the back so I could stretch my legs out, but this made life difficult for a couple who were sitting to my right. Not ideal.

Anyway, off we set. Three stops in all – a much longer section of the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie once again and the Brandenburg Gate.

Some interesting stuff on the way:

Remnant of church dedicated to Kaiser Wilhelm II, the last king of Prussia. The rest of it was bombed in World War II.
Aircraft from the Berlin Airlift. They used to drop sweets to the kids over the Wall, so came to be known as candy bombers.
Chinese gate entrance to the Berlin zoo, one of the biggest in the world. This gate was the price of entry for two Chinese pandas!

All of the above were in the western district of what was West Berlin.

We wended our way back into the traditional city centre of West Berlin to stop at Checkpoint Charlie. I’ve bored you enough with this already, so I’ll restrict myself to just a few more pics.

How Checkpoint Charlie got its name

On our way once again, we passed the City Hall with the Berlin Bear flag atop:

We next stopped at a long stretch of the Wall. In total, it’s over half a mile long with many gaps.

Eastern side of the wall. Completely grey.
Western side. Graffiti and street art in profusion
A gruesome, but famous, picture of Brezhnev of the USSR and Erich Honecker of East Germany er, embracing. Creepy.

As I hope I’ve made clear, there were in fact two walls with about a 70 metre wide No Man’s Land in between them. All of this was the western wall – the eastern wall has been completely destroyed. At the point above, the River Spree was behind this wall and was in No Man’s Land.

Berlin Palace. Believe it or not, this was only reconstructed 3 years ago. It has had a VERY chequered history.
Yes, you can buy a reinforced-cardboard-and-plastic Trabant deathtrap, but why would you want to?
Victory column. Prussia rules OK.
Bellevue Palace, home of the German President. His duties are purely ceremonial.

We arrived at the stopping point for the Brandenburg Gate, but we’d seen enough of this, and decided to walk back to the hotel via a detour through the eastern edge of the Tiergarten, a green space originally used as a hunting ground by the German emperors.

The original plan was to go back to the hotel, then visit the exhibition underneath that rather weird memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe. However, we happened on this on our way back, so decided to visit it there and then.

In some ways, this was very hard work, but it did a proper job of recording how the avowed extermination of the Jews and other races started from relatively minor restrictions on freedom. In 1937, the nationalist move was modest. By 1943, the extermination camps were in full swing. It was accompanied by an incredibly detailed audio guide – if you didn’t have this, it would have been much more difficult to appreciate the message that this exhibition was trying to put across. Namely – this has happened once. Therefore, it could happen again. It must never, never be allowed to do so.

Hardly original, but the effect of this was very powerful because of the intensely personal stories described and documented. It got off to a very slow start, but it was so worthwhile.

One thing I did not realise was that so many of the various ghettos/concentration camps were in Poland. Around half of the 6 million European Jews were murdered in that country. We are going there later in this trip…..

This was a room in the exhibition displaying heart-rending excerpts from postcards, letters, etc., in screens inlaid on the floor. Beautifully presented.

Total cost – 4 euros each for the audio guide.

This seems to be carrying on the work of people like Simon Wiesenthal, chronicler of persecuted Jews worldwide. One can contribute to the now electronic database with depositions of Jewish experiences on so many levels.

I really wasn’t expecting anything like this.

Strong stuff, so we surfaced looking for sustenance. This came in the form of a pizza and a carafe of Soave in yet another Italian restaurant. Excellent.

Back to the hotel – finally – for me to write this drivel and for both of us to pack, as we have to be present and correct at 7.45 a.m. tomorrow. After today’s experience, I’m going to try and sneak onto the coach early and reserve a seat…..

Night, everyone.

2 responses to “Day 4 – Final day in Berlin (28/4/23)”

  1. we have all heard about the berlin wall but reading all your info on the wall makes me realise how dreadful it must have been .
    Berlin is certainly full of history maybe one day we might get there

  2. Yes – much dark history. However, it is a truly vibrant and modern city now – a great place to be.

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