210. The Most Interesting Pile of Rubble

It is easy to think a lot of Berlin’s darker history is all over, all done and dusted. And while there are museums and memorials everywhere of a more formal nature, it isn’t until you see casual remnants of the past, lying around and still waiting to be dealt with that you realise there is still a lot of work to be done.

Walking over the bridge on the way to Warshauer Straße station I snapped this photo. Just a few casual chunks of the wall, looking like they were waiting to be cleared off. It was impossible to know how long they had been there, reminding passers by that the city still hasn’t recovered.

206. East Side Gallery

This was one of my favourite spots in Berlin – a 1.3km stretch of the Berlin Wall with 105 murals painted on it, after a merger of two artisist’s associations in 1990. The paintings (according to wikipedia) “document the time of change and express the euphoria and great hopes for a better and free future for all people of the world.”

The most famous of the paintings (above) is called My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love” – a version of the famous photograph of Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker, in East Germany after they signed a 10 year agreement of mutual support.

Sadly a lot of them were vandalised and destroyed over time, so a project was started in 2009 to restore the paintings, though this caused much controversy among the origianl artists.

Here’s a collection of some of my favourite ones, though there were many more. One of the most hilarious photos was one where I accidentally blended in:

196. The Brandenburg Gate

In 2012, post recession, whilst living a lifestyle of mild yet constant panic that I won’t get a job when I graduate (with a giant debt no less) it does seem practically incomprehensible that countries, particularly in Europe, once upon a time had so much money (or at least very different priorities) that they could whip up these fantastic displays of victory and pride. 

Just hearing about all of the historic events that have happened around the Brandenburg Gate (for instance the fact it was completely blocked off for so long by the Berlin Wall) was really fascinating. I found it really interesting that it was only really fully restored from its damage in WWII in 2002 – it is easy to forget how long some parts of the world have taken to recover from the war.

195. The Berlin Wall

Berlin has to be one of the most fascinating cities in the world. Everywhere you go, there is something to see and learn about. The Berlin Wall was definitely one of the things I found the most interesting. Largely because I’d only glossed over that part of Germany’s history prior to actually arriving in Berlin.

I had expected to see memorials/some parts of the wall remaining, but I certainly didn’t expect to see so many bits of it scattered around town. It is incredibly distinctive and it gives you quite the visual realisation that the city still hasn’t fully recovered.

It really does amaze me how despite the atrocities of WWII, it seemed like a few crucial lessons still weren’t learned. It is truly astonishing how those in power in many places still put their own people through hell, whilst remaining convinced/trying to convince the rest of the world that their societal model is the ideal one.

It was fascinating to learn about some of the perspectives on the wall. As well as learning how many people died whilst trying to escape East Berlin, whilst pondering how soldiers could just open fire on their own people in the “Death Strip”, the interesting point was raised that on the one side, in Western Germany, there was freedom, but on the other side there was security and many people actually preferred security. Still though, you have to wonder how a country gets to a state where so many people are trying to escape (and being murdered for it) and they still think they are doing right by their people.