Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Tour of former Nazi Germany + the Monuments of Berlin

I get off the S-Bahn and pass through Checkpoint Charlie into West Berlin.
The Recichstag Building
The streets are a history buff's dream, museums and historical landmarks abounding. Looking for someone to make sense of it all, I run across one of the best guides I've ever seen, an Englishman named Sam Noble (could a name be more British?) appropriately studying for his PhD in history.
Monument to those who tried to stand-up to Nazi rule
Sam is entertaining and knowledgeable, and it's clear he has his routine down. Despite the numerous laughs he provides anyone on his tour of Nazi Germany would describe it as "sobering," and I include present day Neo-Nazis in that statement as you'd have to deal with the reality that you lost motherfuckers!

Most of the monuments were created after the war to commemorate the fallen. The irregular squarish shaped tablets you see here honor the politicians who attempted to stand up to Hitler, all of whom were quickly murdered for raising a dissenting voice.
Soviet monumentto the fallen soldiers

Looming large is the Soviet Monument for the unknown soldier, with 2,500 Russian servicemen buried beneath and around the monument. It was erected in a former green area near the Reichstag, where Hitler had planned to build "Adolf Hitler Platz" after the war, an admirable plan to award himself the  prestige he deserved for plummeting the world into chaos and destroying Europe.
If you examine the statue of the soldier, the hand is as large as the head. Stalin, in his infinite compassion, had the sculptor executed.
No, just kidding, from reading Communist history we know Uncle Joe would never stoop to such a level; the hand's size symbolizes the powerful and mighty Soviet empire holding back fascism and the Nazis.
Video of the Soviet Monument to the unknown soldier

WWII Soviet tank
Not open to the public, we arrive at the remains of Hitler's bunker, the spot where he committed suicide. Sam points out the fact that almost all high ranking officers of the Nazi party, war mongers that they were, who sent in armies to be slaughtered for the glory of battle and holding a position, who destroyed and ended so many lives, cowardly took their own rather than face the public's wrath.
At the time of suicide, Sam relates how Hitler lacked the ability to slaughter his own dog. A man who unblinkingly sent millions to their death.

the holocaust memorial
Erected at a large cost to the public the Holocaust Monument sits on uneven ground, with rectangular blocks of different heights and widths. I'm not clear what the designer's purpose was besides maybe a creating a feeling of confusion, a place where it's hard to get your bearings, where nothing seems to make sense, perhaps representative of what the victims of the Holocaust went through.
Surprisingly, there is absolutely no graffiti here, Neo-Nazi or otherwise.
This is due to the fact that at great expense the German government had a chemical solution applied to each of the blocks to which paint and other substances could not adhere to.
remnants of the Berlin Wall
A scandal broke out when it was discovered that the company which supplied the solution (sorry) was a subsidiary of the same corporation which supplied the Nazis with the poisons used to gas concentration camp victims. After much public uproar, the company decided as a gesture of goodwill to refund the people of Germany the full cost of the chemical application.
My sincere hope is that the government employee knew of the connection beforehand, took a bribe from the Nazi company when he awarded them the contract, then, after the work was done, leaked the facts to the media, and lead the charge by the government to get the money back. Now that is German efficiency!

The monuments of Berlin- 1 minute video 

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