Ode to Berlin

Travel Diary Berlin #1 (30)

I grew up on the East Side of the Wall – on the communist side of it. And there’s aspects of it that I very vividly remember before the Wall came down when I was 6:

  • - I remember my mum hysterically screaming at the telly when the accidental announcement was broadcast.
  • - I remember my parents shipping me and my youngest brother off to my nan so they could drive down to Berlin and get their own piece of the Wall from the west side of it.
  • - I remember crossing over into West Germany for the first time in the most traditional East German car you can imagine, being received on the other side sorta like the US celebrated their war heroes’ homecoming.
  • - I also distinctively remember asking my parents for the (as it turned out it was the last) elections why they weren’t voting and them saying that it made no difference as that one party was gonna win either way.

None of this stuff made sense when I grew up. I was only 6 years old. BUT I REMEMBER IT and I remember my imaginary light bulbs practically BURSTING when I started learning about this part of Germany’s history at school.

Being a teacher (mum) and musician (dad) couple, it meant that in the face of communism, the state considered them both very able to spread anti-communistic world views. They were constantly under surveillance by the Stasi. They felt trapped and controlled with no thinkable way out.

My mum actually was in Berlin on 13th August 1961 when the German-Soviets decided on putting up the Wall, and she was in West Berlin trying to get back into East Berlin and almost not being allowed home – at the age of 11. Now it’s 50+ years later and everyone can freely move around not just within Germany, but in the world, which was unthinkable for decades.

But Berlin of course didn’t just play the pivotal role during the Cold War, but also during World War 2 so there’s a lot to see…

Travel Diary Berlin #1 (06)Travel Diary Berlin #1 (05)

This silencing group of figurines is the memorial for Berlin’s first Jewish Elderly Home, which was turned into a place where 55,000 Berlin Jews were sent by the Naxis before they were “relocated” (as the Nazis put it!) to concentration camps. I love that Berlin and Germany embrace this horrible, horrible part of its history, reminding and warning everyone to stop history from repeating itself.

Travel Diary Berlin #1 (09)

Why am I showing you a picture of a very withered front of some random building? Well, because it’s not withered. But it’s what I thought at first too, always did, until my friend opened my eyes on my last trip to Berlin: these are bullet holes!

This is some random street somewhere off the centre, at least 20min walk away from the Wall and even longer from the Bunker. And yet this random building’s front is riddled with hundreds of bullet holes. And it’s not the only building in this street or in Berlin.

Travel Diary Berlin #1 (17)

Berlin’s TV Tower makes Berlin’s skyline. It’s like NYC’s Empire State Building or Paris’s Eiffel Tower or Sydney’s Opera. You see it and you know it’s Berlin. But what a lot of tourists don’t know is that it was built by the German-Soviets to celebrate its power and capabilities in the world. It was commissioned by the same guy that decided to build the Berlin Wall.

And it’s still here. 20+ years after reunification of East and West Berlin, after the evil communist enemy was defeated, it’s still here. It could’ve been knocked down. But again, Berlin doesn’t hide its history.

This is why I love Berlin. It stands up to its history. It embraces it. It shows, displays and educates. It silently warns.

ick will dit auf deutsch, ehy!


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17 Comments on “Ode to Berlin

  1. thehappycrab

    Interesting article I enjoyed reading it. I think it was this year or last that we had an episode of the show ‘who do you think you are’ here and it went into great detail about the Elderly Home where they all got ‘relocated’ to the camps. It was interesting but so sad to watch. We were pretty sure we had German relatives on my mothers side but when I started tracing the tree this year it appears my mother has them on both her mother and fathers side. I believe they were German Jews on my grandfathers side. I wont know anymore till I carry on with the project, but so far very interesting.

    1. Miss drifted Snow White Post author

      i am a total geek for this kind of stuff. i hated history at school, cuz it was “boring” and “in the past” and “it doesnt relate to me” but then i suddenly realised i was part of that history, i experienced it, i was there and it changed everything!! it’ll be very hard to find out what happened to your german relatives from what i know – the boy has polish relatives on his dad’s side and they assume they all got killed in the concentration camps :(

  2. Leanne

    Love this post Maria! Dying to visit Berlin. I went to Germany once on a school trip when I was 11, but someplace on the Rhine, I can’t even remember where it was now. Would love to go to Berlin and take in all the history, and practice my German! xxx

    1. Miss drifted Snow White Post author

      i wasnt sure people were gonna like this post, sooooo glad you did! it’s so serious in a way lol but i wanted to share this! so happy you like this and that you enjoy my german posts haha :) YES GO TO BERLIN ♥

  3. Lily

    Loved reading this, it’s so interesting to read about Berlin when it’s not written from a touristy point of view. I noticed a lot of bullet holes in some of the back streets and more run down areas, I’d never have noticed them if you hadn’t told me to keep an eye out before we went though. Quite strange to see.

    1. Miss drifted Snow White Post author

      it’s really weird isn’t it? you just assume that it’s the natural decay of the building – you don’t notice the symmetry of the holes, you don’t even notice it is holes. until it hits you.

      so glad you liked this post hun ♥

  4. Paula

    I loved reading this! I visit Germany often and I’ve been to both sides. Most people think I’m crazy saying I’m going to Germany on holiday but I’ve met my bestest friends there and I love the history and the culture! I’ve only ever flown into Berlin as a short stop so never actually been through it but it’s on my list! More Germany posts please :)

    1. Miss drifted Snow White Post author

      Oh I’m sooo glad you liked this post :) I really wasn’t sure, especially after the last post where the tone was super serious :( Berlin is amazing you should definitely make sure you go there and stay there for more than a short trip. Make it a week! There is sooo much to see!! ♥

  5. Fiona

    Hello, I’m a new reader! What a great post and a lovely blog – you write with such sincerity. Really enjoyed reading this and would love to visit Berlin one day. x

  6. Catherine

    So interesting. Thank you so much for sharing. I wrote my dissertation on the cultural politics of the GDR, wish I had known about you and your blog, I could have asked you so many questions! I have visited Berlin several times and what I found most striking was how everything was still raw, as your photo of the bullet hole wall sums up. Such recent history, and like you I love how it’s not hidden.

  7. Inge Herchenbach

    You have I touched your article about Berlin’s history very well written. The article has really touched me. I

  8. Pingback: With Love from Berlin | UK Fashion & Beauty Blog | Miss drifted Snow White

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