The World War Memento in Berlin

Modern City of Berlin

Departing from Reykjavik, we try to looking a hub to connect us from Northern Europe to Middle Europe then Berlin is an option. We only had 4 hours transit in Berlin before connecting again to Prague.

Arriving at Berlin Schönefeld Airport (SXF), the airport for Low Cost Carrier, we confused our self to take bus or train to reach City Center. After walking here and there, we finally decide to take train from SXF to Berlin Haupbahnhoff (Hbf). Before I am telling anything else, I think it is important to take a note about terms in Germany.

Hauptbahnhoff (Hbf) is another meaning of train station in Germany. Meanwhile Flughaffen is what they call Airport and last but not least, Busbahnhoff is terms for Bus Station. It is important term that used not only in Germany but also in Switzerland and Austria.

From Berlin Hbf, we can pretty much walking to the monumental site. Different from any other city in Europe, when we were arrived we can sense the modernity of this city thru its building. May be it is because of the war, buildings were destroyed and only some survive.

Berlin Hbf itself is so large consist of several floors and served U-bahn, S-bahn and tram. The buildings made of glass and covered with curved glass roof with a surface area of about 85 metres (279 ft).

Glassy Berlin Hbf
When we went outside the station, the sky was clear blue and the sun shine brightly. The weather is nice that's why many peoples stay at the outside or just resting in the park. Accross the station, there is a big river, Spree River with clean surrounding and wide river border.

We grab free maps at the station and notice that there are several bus provide free tour for the tourist. Yet we won't made the schedule, we decide to walk anywhere during our short visit. Our first stop is  Reichstag Building.It is located about 500 meters from Berlin Hbf.

Looking for the facade, Reichstag strongly affected with renaissance architecture then the dome in the middle explain that this building has gone through major restoration.

Reichstag Building
The Reichstag, used by Germany Parliament, is the most popular landmark in Berlin.  The stone foundation lied for the first time on 9 June 1884 by Kaiser Wilhelm I. In 1894, after ten years of construction, the Reichstag was completed and its dome towered above the City Castle.

On 27 February 1933 under mysterious circumstances that still have yet to be explained, the Reichstag caught on fire, destroying the chamber and the dome. The Reichstag fire served as a pretext for the Nazi regime to persecute their political opponents. .

In 1993, the English Architecture, Norman Foster won the competition to renovate the building. Foster decided to restore its former splendor, magnifying its powerful spirt with concepts oriented towards a new sense of historical awareness. The most powerful composition elemen here is the new dome, which has become the emblem of the New Berlin.

Too bad when we arrived there, dome is closed for visitors during the cleaning and maintenance work. If you want to go there, just register online in advance here.

Brandenburg Gate from the west side (opposite of the quadriga)

Moving forward, our next destination is Brandenburg Gate located approx 100 meters behind the Reichstag.  The Gate is an 18th-century neoclassical monument in Berlin, and one of the best-known landmarks of Germany. It is built on the site of a former city gate that marked the start of the road from Berlin to the town of Brandenburg an der Havel.

The gate survived World War II and was one of the damaged structures still standing in the Pariser Platz ruins in 1945 (another being the Academy of Fine Arts). The gate was badly damaged with holes in the columns from bullets and nearby explosions. One horse’s head from the original quadriga survived, today kept in the collection of the Märkisches Museum.

From there, we continue to walk to the south side to the Holocoust Memorial. The distance is one block away, approx 700 meters.  Along the way, we can see some souvenirs store and worth the visit (the price is ok, I guess).

The Holocoust Memorial

The Holocoust Memorial is a memorial for the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, designed by architect Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold. It consists of a 19,000 m2 (4.7-acre) site covered with 2,711 concrete slabs, arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field. The slabs are 2.38 m (7 ft 10 in) long, 0.95 m (3 ft 1 in) wide and vary in height from 0.2 to 4.7 m (7.9 in to 15 ft 5.0 in). They are organized in rows, 54 of them going north–south, and 87 heading east–west at right angles but set slightly askew. An attached underground "Place of Information"  holds the names of approximately 3 million Jewish Holocaust victims, obtained from the Israeli museum Yad Vashem. Building began on April 1, 2003, and was finished on December 15, 2004. It was inaugurated on May 10, 2005, sixty years after the end of World War II, and opened to the public two days later.

Well, when we arrived there, only several students in there. The Memorial is quite and calm so anyhow I can feel the sorrow. As the avid fans of war movie (or any humanity movie), the memorial is one of best memento I could feel.

Crossing the street, we accidentally found one of historical point, The Fuhrerbunker.
FuhrerBunker Sign (below is the loo not ' to everywere door')
Actually, we can't see much from this point, just a map and signage. I guess so many people wanted to know where this place actually was, that eventually the local council gave in and put up a sign.
It's more of a noticeboard, with a few photos and diagrams to show you what things looked like, and a modern map with older details superimposed, so you can work out where you're standing. 
It really is just a car park - there is not the slightest remnant of concrete or steel to show where the Fuhrer bunker once stood.

Moving on. due to the limited time, this will be our last point to visit, Checkpoint Charlie. Located quite far if we preferred to walk there (approx.900 meters). If you watched movies during cold war, you won't be a stranger to the term of Checkpoint Charlie. The Latest one (and very memorable) movie using Checkpoint "C" is Stephen Spielberg movie, Bridge of Spies. 

Checkpoint C

Checkpoint Charlie (or "Checkpoint C") was the name given by the Western Allies to the Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War (1947–1991).

East German leader Walter Ulbricht agitated and maneuvered to get the Soviet Union's permission to construct the Berlin Wall in 1961 to stop Eastern Bloc emigration and defection westward through the Soviet border system, preventing escape across the city sector border from communist East Berlin into West Berlin. Checkpoint Charlie became a symbol of the Cold War, representing the separation of East and West. Soviet and American tanks briefly faced each other at the location during the Berlin Crisis of 1961.

After the dissolution of the Eastern Bloc and the reunification of Germany, the checkpoint booth removed on June 22, 1990.And now,  the building at Checkpoint Charlie became a tourist attraction. Even now, there is hired actors stunt as allied military policemen standing in front of the guard house. To take photograph with him, we can pay EUR 5.

Right accros the Checkpoint C, there is an exhibition to commemerate the history of Checkpoint Charlie. Also there are souvenir shops sell fake military emblems.

From there, we must hurried back to the Berlin Hbf to take our bagage which already kept at paid locker. Walking approx 2 kilometers back in 20 minutes surely take my exhaustion in new level.  That day we must continue our journey to Prague via Bus.

Arrived in Berlin Hbf, we collected our bagage, grab a take away and ride taxi to the Berlin Busbahnhof. It took 15 minutes to reach there and we made it on time as our bus schedule.

Exhausted and weak, I chose to take a medicine to reduce migrain and got sleep at the bus. Well, 4.5 hours at the bus, I can't see much due to my weak condition, even when we at Autobahn (tollway). Yes there is lot of sport cars and drive madly but I can't prove there are no speed limit in Autobahn.

Well, I will tell my experience riding bus accross country in my next post. Actually my 4 hours short visit in Berlin isn't enough to be called as experience. May be someday soon, I have more time to experience the longer War Memento in Berlin.

Previous Posts:

The Country that made you live in there, Iceland
One Full Day in the City of Lights, Paris
16 Days Crossing 8 Countries, 12 Cities in Europe


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