Monday, May 17, 2010

Berlin Walking Tour

On Sunday, we took our first proper walking tour of Berlin. We had a three hour guided journey through many of the most significant places in Berlin, starting at the Brandenburg Gate and ending at Museum Island and the Soviet-era radio tower in Alexanderplatz. We saw too many significant places to name them all, but some of the most interesting to us were Checkpoint Charlie (gate C in the Berlin Wall), the twin churches facing Gendarmenmarkt square (one for the French Huguenots recruited in the 1700's and a matching one for the Germans), Humboldt University and the square where 20,000 “un-German” books (including those by authors Helen Keller and Albert Einstein) were burned during the 1933 Nazi takeover, and the campus building where Max Plank taught physics for over 30 years.
The Cold War microcosm; here communism and democracy
came face to face on a daily basis for several decades.

The concert hall and the French Cathedral (the identical German cathedral
faces in as a mirror image, giving the square almost perfect symmetry).

A professional photo of the memorial in the square where the book burning
occurred. It is a glass window showing empty underground bookshelves,
representative of the 20,000 volumes burned on that one occasion alone.

A haunting plague nearby carries the German inscription
penned over 100 years before the Nazis came to power:

"When one begins with burning books, one will end with burning men."

The Max Planck plaque

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