Walking Berlin

Those who died at The Wall

Potsdamer Platz Berlin was once considered the busiest city square in all of Europe, and certainly the most ‘metropolitan’ before WWII. By the end of WWII, it all but ceased to exist after the ‘Battle for Berlin‘.

But the human cost of the battle for Berlin had been enormous. Millions of shells were fired into a city that was already devastated after two years of relentless bombing raids by British and American warplanes. Nearly a quarter of a million people died during the last three weeks of World War Two, almost as many as the United States lost during the entire war.

The Wall ran straight through Potsdamer Platz cutting the vibrant city in half. Separating neighbour from neighbour. There are many sections of the wall standing in monument at the Platz, and a lot of informative reading.

At the Holocaust Monument

During our midnight walk around Berlin we found a powerful monument dedicated to those whose lives were unnecessarily lost as a direct result of the wall. We stood in front of it for a few minutes, experiencing chills and feeling a deep sense of sadness and loss, before we realized what the monument was for.

To the right of us were the epic Brandenburg Gates, straight ahead the current Reichstag, and to the left the trees that once held the lifeless bodies of the dissenters that had been murdered and strung up by Hitlers henchmen.

The Brandenburgh Gates

Various photos of this horror were posted along the route. A brilliant, insightful, empathy building installation. We couldn’t help but actually imagine the horror that once lined these streets, and imagine the tens of thousands of people that would have been traumatized and haunted by these events for the rest of their lives.

I am sure that it helped that it was night and dark, without many other pedestrians. Quiet. It also helped that many of the same trees still exist, barely larger, barely different than they were at the time of the hangings.

We crossed the street to stand under the Brandenburg Gates. I could remember reading about the gates, that at the end of WWII forces tried with all of their might to topple them, unsuccessfully. I was not disappointed on my visit.

Shelling Repair

Sure enough, the repairs from shelling and bomb damage are clearly visible up the enormous columns. Thankfully they still stand, as a real testament to the fortitude of man and German engineering!

We crossed through the gates. Initially, when we happened upon the Holocaust Monument, my husband was taken aback by the enormity of unusual grey, blocky structures that spanned almost as far as you could see (again, darkness absolutely amplified this effect). ‘What the hell is this?’ he remarked. I decided to let him see if he could feel what it was himself.

Orbs at The Monument

We entered the ‘park’, and as we walked through the structures got taller and more intimidating, the path seemed to narrow and each way we turned looked the same – hopeless. We felt claustrophobic, panicky and rather immediately – lost!

As we stood in the centre of the monument, holding hands, my husband realized we had happened upon the Holocaust Monument, it could be nothing else with the emotions it evoked.

I had been before on a previous tour of Berlin, but during busy daytime. Certainly if possible, I would recommend you take a tour of Berlin at night.

Additional photos in the slideshow.

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You can follow this trip by heading to the ‘8 Country EU Tour‘ section, or you can enjoy many more photos of Germany by heading to the Habitual Runaway on Facebook.

(continued)

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6 responses to “Walking Berlin

  1. Enjoying reading your Berlin blog posts ! I have visited before briefly and we are off there again at the end of Nov for a Concert and the Christmas Markets with some friends . May well do the walk at night too !

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    • Thank you! You will not be disappointed by the ‘Christkindl’ Christmas Markets – or Christmas time in Germany in general. Fantastic decorations, hot wine & beer (tastes better than it sounds!), Christmas spirit everywhere. I would totally recommend a night time walk – just to see the lights (and most of the Markets are open late too). I hope you have a fantastic tour!

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  2. Wow…thank you for describing your experience at Holocaust Monument. I can’t imagine how it must have felt to be there. I was in Berlin in 1989 (months before the fall of the wall although I had no idea of what was to come). The wall was a sobering and emotional sight. I still vividly remember some of the phrases and images that were graffitied on it. Thanks again for sharing and thank you for stopping by Travel Oops. Steph

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    • I would have loved to have been there before the fall of the wall. Such incredible and moving history – so profound to even be a small part of it. I will stop by Travel Oops again, thanks for your visit too =).

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  3. Such a moving article, thank you for sharing your experience so well that we feel as though we too have stood in the quiet and payed respect..

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