12 April 2011, Berlin , Cold and stormy
Woke up around 9am had some ham from the supermarket, bought coffee and croissant at the cafe in the hostel. Booked a walking tour for €12. At 10:30 am, Terry, an old English man who lived in B for 27 yrs, came in the reception area shouting for people who are going on the walking tour to meet at the front door. It was rainy outside, he had a grey and black raincoat on. When I approached him, he said “Aren’t you the lucky lady”.
I was a bit embarrassed, as it turned out I was the only one who was going on this tour. So,Terry and I stared the walk, he told me the gold plates on the ground are name plates for the Jewish family who used to live in the area and got killed by the Nazis. There were lots of gold plates on the pavement. If you don’t know, you may stand on one of those. Terry also explained to me the different types of buildings in Berlin. Some of them are truly ugly, reminded me of some buildings in my city back in the early 90s.
When we arrived at the only remaining Jew’s church, Terry left me with Preston, an American from Oregon who lived in Berlin for 10 years, who was with other four tourists. They were four boys from America, Canada and Norway. so five of us started our 6 hour walking tour in Berlin. The things I learnt from the tour are, in the 2nd WW, Berlin was under air bomb for 2 and half years. Basically the whole city’s buildings were damaged.
For some strange reason, the Americans and the British air force missed the most important building, the one where Nazis planned their air attack to the rest of the Europe. However, the America and British air force did hit lots of night clubs, telephone clubs, and historical churches, such as the one for the Jews.
Before Hitler became a member of the parliament, the Jews community did not take him seriously at all. Everything changed on the night of Feb, xxx, 1934. Germans went on the streets destroyed hundreds of shops and houses owned by the Jews. When they were about to attack the Jewish church, one German policeman single handily saved it. He fired a few gun shots and told the crowd there was no way he would let them enter the church, because this is not their property and by law they have no rights to burn the church down. Funnily enough, the crowd did listen to the man in the uniform and left the Church in peace.
The next day, when all the German insurance companies executives woke up, they were facing millions of dollars insurance claims from the Jewish community. When they asked the Berlin government what to do, the government simply said don’t pay. Insurance companies said if they do so, that means all the overseas companies who were their clients would definitely change insurance company. That’s the only reason why the riot did not continue the next day due to the finical damage the Government would face.
Then we moved to the Telephone clubs, it was also destroyed by the air force. Funny to see some buildings looked so torn down in Berlin. Preston said actually the inside of the building can be quite nice. The government didn’t have money to rebuild the outside of some buildings, so they left them as they were, as long as they were still standing. The tenants were responsible for the inside decoration of the rooms.
The highlight of the tour for me was to visit Hitlers Bunker. It looked just like a normal residential area. There was an information board to explain the location. If it’s not because of the guide, I would have easily overlooked it.
The last two weeks of Hitler’s life was full of chocolate cake in a 3 by 3 bunker plus a wedding with Eve in their living room. After that, they committed suicide together. Eve was poisoned, Hitler had a wound in his head. Their burnt bodies were found in the front yard of the bunker. When the red army could not find him alive and only left with two burnt bodies, they confirmed one was him based on his bad teeth, only 6 remain. Hitler was feeding only on chocolate cakes in the last few days of his life. What a weird bastard!
The visits to the Tears point, Charlie’s point and the Jewish memorial were also very interesting. We also passed some other memorials for other groups who suffered from Nazis crimes.The Berlin government is trying to have these memorials being built for every group who were killed, such as the gypsies, homosexuals (only apply to male). It will take a while to complete, let’s say it’s a work in progress. Two films I need to watch again, one is Good bye Lenine, another is Run Lola Run. These two films were both based in Berlin, it will make me understand them even more after I’ve been to the city.
We said goodbye in front of the palace. I went to my next stop – the Jewish Museum. The Museums was not big, but you get to see personal objects of the victims. Also letters and pictures of Jews who fled the county and immigrate to America, Israel etc. One letter from a mum to her 14 year old daughter said : ‘you said bye to a disappointing old world, hope the new world brings hope’. There was also a Farewell book made by classmates of one little girl, one says lots of luck to your trip. This sort of exhibitions really makes me ask myself again and again we are all humans, but why some suffer so much more than the others? When will this suffering and inequality end?
I think everyone should know about this, so we will say no to unfairness and prejudice towards different race. History already carries too much blood and tears from those being discriminated and tortured. In the present, this sort of crime is still carrying out in subtle ways. Silence won’t bring peace, we will fight for justice.
Got to my hostel around 8pm. Met a girl from HK. Was really good to speak Chinese again.
*Li Yang is a dear friend of mine, whom I had the wonderful luck of meeting in Univeristy during our first year orientation. She has a poets heart, no nonsense attidude towards life, a solo traveller, travelling through Europe on a journey of self discovery and adventure. She will share some of her experiences here on MsAudreyC. Lucky me!