January 4, 2014

Return Visit: Berlin

The last stop on our Christmas Market Extravaganza was Berlin. I can sum up our Christmas Market journey in short by saying that if there is a city that knows how to put on a market (or over a hundred..) it's Berlin!

Berliner Weihnachtszeit

   The dining selections are fun, the gluhwein is wonderful and the shopping is modern and well rounded. Other bonuses - some markets stay open until the New Year, the market stands themselves are marvels of holiday showpieces, and depending on which markets you wander around you will find an ice skating rink, a toboggan run, acrobats, a 500 meter high Ferris Wheel...

   The smartest thing that we did on this visit was to take a bike tour of the city. Berlin is a very spread-out city. If you walk to see the city sights, you will be exhausted. If you hop around via the trains, you will miss many important elements of the city. A bike is the perfect solution.

Humboldt University
    The first stop on our bike tour was the square in front of Humboldt University. With many notable people passing through these doors, my favorites are students - Grimm Brothers and lecturer - Albert Einstein. What I would have never known by passing through without the tour is that in this square (Bebelplatz), there is a window that looks down deep into the ground to an area full of empty bookshelves. A memorial to the Nazi book burning ceremony held here by students on May 10, 1933.

   The perhaps oddity of this ceremony is that it was held and organized by the students. Usually a demographic of open-minded individuals, on this night it was the students that had gathered books written by authors that were deemed to be classical liberal, anarchist, socialist, pacifist, communist, Jewish, gay... Any author who's ideals did not line up with those of the Nazi Party.

   Set in the cobblestones near the window to the empty bookshelves is this eery-ly all-to-true plaque. Reading a quote from an 1821 play (Almansor) by Heinrich Heine: "Das war ein vorspiel nur, dort wo man bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am ende auch menschen." Translated to English: "Where they burn books, they will in the end also burn people." A heart dropping line of words written more than a hundred years before today's history unraveled.

Section of Berlin Wall

   The recent past of Berlin is deep and grey but today the city is bright and energized. When passing through the city there are moments of deep realization about the surroundings. But it is a city that is heavily rebuilding to the past that it once knew while artistically enjoying today.

Brandenburg Gate
    For a less-deep ending to today's post - when standing in front of the Brandenburg Gate you will find Hotel Adlon. The hotel where movie stars will rent a suite when in town, you may remember it as the home of the third story balcony where Michael Jackson dangled his son. That lightened things up, didn't it?

Hotel Adlon

1 comment:

  1. Awesome reading! I'm ready for the next chapter...