We simply couldn’t ignore the fact that Berlin was chock full of history, most of it very recent. Unfortunately, we couldn’t squeeze everything in, but that can wait until we go back next year. Below are some interesting places to edumacate yourself in Berlin.
East Side Gallery
Remnants of the Berlin Wall now serve as a gallery of images promoting peace in the world. Most of the art is unimpressive, but the concept is what matters here. The artwork is covered by graffiti and visitors wanting to leave their mark with a Sharpie, but I think it adds to the gritty character of this “gallery.”
The other side of the wall is worth perusing. It has photographs of walls and restricted areas that still remain in parts of the world.
Checkpoint Charlie Museum
Started in a small apartment by a German anti-communist human rights activist Rainer Hildebrandt, this museum is now a fairly large place located right by what used to be Checkpoint Charlie. The main part of the museum has images and descriptions of various escape attempts and ingenious escape contraptions created by the residents of the GDR (in East Berlin) to get to West Berlin. It is PACKED with information in a very cluttered format. It’s worth noting that as educational as this museum is, it is just one perspective (and a West Berlin one at that) into life in the GDR.
Topography of Terror
It is Germany’s responsibility to admit and to remember the atrocities it committed while the Nazis were in power, and this museum does just that. Located at the site of the former SS and Gestapo headquarters, there is a chronological timeline of the years leading up to Hitler’s takeover of power, during Nazi Germany and after World War II. I thought it was interesting how they expose high-ranking Nazis who escaped prosecution, putting their faces and names out there for the whole world to see.
Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted Under Nazism
This seemingly simple concrete block makes a very bold statement once looked at up close. One side has a small window, through which a video of same-sex couples kissing and hugging is played. In your face! I thought it was a genius concept.
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
Despite the various disputes surrounding it, this memorial is definitely worth a visit, even if it is just to see how an architect managed to come up with a very creative solution. Uneven, square concrete pillars are arranged in a grid formation on a sloping ground. Unfortunately, this makes for a very amusing place for children to run around and for people to pose happily for photos.
For more photos of our time in Berlin, check out our Flickr album.