RS7_PHOTOGRAPHY

Berlin, Germany, 12th September 2018

October 3, 2018
Written by: Rob Slusar

It’s been a while since I last posted. Sorry. I’ve been busy.

At the beginning of September I took a holiday to Turkey and Berlin for a well needed rest. Whilst I didn’t get my camera out much in Turkey, it was certainly on me at all times in Berlin.

Berlin

It was my first time in Germany and consequently Berlin.¬†I found Berlin to be absolutely fascinating. Whilst on the outside it’s like any other major city, hidden under the surface is a diverse and vibrant atmosphere.

I’ve wanted to come here for a while to sample the culture and diverse history. I decided the best way to do this was to take a walking tour. This walking tour covered the rise of the Nazi’s through to the Cold War period.

The Pictures

Before I went away, my trusty D5200 (no complete with a fly in the sensor) was replaced with a second D7200. I took this new camera to test it and set it to my liking.

The pace of the walking tour was not ideal for taking pictures so these may come across quite touristy. Whilst not perfect, I have selected pictures which I feel tell some of the history of Berlin.

In the back alleys away from the chain stores, the vibrant nature runs through.

This courtyard was originally part of Otto Weidt’s brush factory. Like Schindler, Weidt hired and protected those who would be persecuted by the Nazis. A museum now occupies this space. The vibrant art of the post unification of Berlin shows the complete contrast in the city’s history.

Whilst the streets are grey and modern, colourful decoration and quirky bars show the liberal and fun atmosphere of the city.

At one time, this was the largest Synagogue in Berlin.

Here starts the darker history. On what became known as the Night of Broken Glass (Kristallnacht), members of the public were encouraged to riot against the Jews. Authorities looked past vandalism of homes, businesses and synagogues.

At the end of the night, 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to concentration camps. Some 7000 businesses were damaged or destroyed, and 267 synagogues throughout Germany, Austria, and the Sudetenland were destroyed. But not this one.

One German police officer with friends in the Jewish community took a stand. He went to his house and came back with a sheet of paper and presented it to the SS officer in charge. He stated that the local police and fire brigade had prohibited the destruction of this building as it would affect nearby buildings. The SS officer stopped his men and left. Had the SS officer looked properly, he would have seen the document was fake.

Due to the bold actions of this one officer, this synagogue was saved.

All around Berlin, these tribute plaques give a sobering insight into the human costs of the Nazi regime.

These plaques or “Stolperstein” can be spotted all over the streets of Berlin.

They initially started out as an art project by German artist Gunter Demnig in 1992. The idea was to commemorate those who had been displaced by the actions of the Nazis during the holocaust. Located on street corners, they are intended to mark the last known place or work or home of the victims.

Initially laid by Demnig himself, the idea was eventually supported by councils and townsfolk. What started out as a project to remember the Jews killed during Nazi rule eventually expanded to other persecuted groups. Whilst initially based in Germany it soon spread to other nations over Europe.

Each plaque starts with “Here lived” or “From here” and details the following information.

Name

Date of birth

Date of arrest/deportation

Which concentration camp

Their Fate

All 5 people who lived at this address were sent to Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia at the same time. They were ultimately murdered at Auchwitz-Birkenau.

Whilst others have happier endings, like survival in camps or escaped to USA etc, most of them are noted as “emordert”. Murdered.

Whilst Demnig still carries out this project, he gets more support. Many of these are now researched and paid for by occupiers of modern homes.

This building, the Postfuhrampt was constructed between 1875 and 1881, It was used as a depot and stables for the horse-drawn postal carriages. Like much of Berlin, it was heavily damaged during the war. It now operates as an exhibition centre.

This sculpture was erected in tribute to one of the men who tried to assassinate Hitler in 1939. Georg Elser planted a homemade bomb on the stand where Hitler was due to make a speech. Due to a logistical error, Hitler left minutes before the explosion which would have killed a number of high ranking Nazi officials. Elser was arrested and sent to Dachau where he was executed in 1945.

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe was built between 2003 and 2004 at a cost of 25 million Euros.

The memorial is made up of grey blocks of different sizes all laid at different angles.

According to the architect, the design is to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere, and the whole sculpture aims to represent a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason.

Some visitors have reported the feeling of isolation amongst the stones. Others have reported different emotions inside the mass of grey.

My tour ended at the Reichstag building. Built in 1894 it served as the parliament building until it was destroyed by fire in 1933. Whilst the cause of the fire was unknown, it is believed it was deliberate in order for the Nazis to suspend rights in the country and assume total control. It was reconstructed between 1961 and 1964 and after reunification in 1990 resumed its parliamentary duties.

Later I met up with the wife and took the obligatory Brandenburg Gate shot. Sadly they were setting up for the marathon so it was hard to get a good shot.

We then headed to the Topography of Horror museum, based in the foundations of the old Gestapo building. If these walls could talk they may reveal many dark secrets of the Gestapo and SS.

After WW2, Germany was split between the Allies and Soviets who could not agree on how to form a standard for governing the country. Checkpoint Charlie was located at one of the crossings where East met West.

When relationships between the US and Soviet Union broke down, the Soviets moved to protect against defection from the Eastern Bloc and began the construction of the Berlin Wall.

After nearly 30 years of division, the wall came down in 1989 with reunification taking place in 1990. Now the wall stands as a crumbling memorial to the those who suffered during that period.

“To Astrid, maybe someday we will be better”. I don’t know if this is original graffiti or not but it struck a chord. After some 25 years of healing, the world seems to be putting up more barriers, both physical and metaphorical. Maybe someday we will be better…. but not right now.

All over Berlin, evidence of the East/West divide still remains. This mural on what used to be the Nazi Ministry of Aviation building celebrates the East’s dedication to socialism. Sadly the truth was not reflected on this propaganda piece.

Finale

I appreciate this post has been quite history heavy.

When I started this blog 5 years ago, my intention was to share and teach at the same time. I couldn’t have done the history of this city justice if i hadn’t gone deep.

This is just the first of a number of historic Berlin blogs I will post. Don’t worry, I also have Pandas coming.

I hope you enjoyed this. Let me know what you think. As always. Thanks for looking.

 

x
Login

error: Content is protected !!