Saturday, May 1, 2010

Berlin: Day 1

Blogger is acting up a bit when trying to upload photos, so I will try again later. These are some photos from Day 1 of our trip to Berlin! We thought we lost all the photos when our external hard drive mysteriously stopped working. Jeremy took it to a computer shop and the technician was able to retrieve most of what was on there! Hooray!

So here is Jeremy at the top of the Reichstag reading about the buildings you can see from the top.

This is the dome at the top of the Reichstag. You can go inside too and there is a ramp going all the way around to go to the top.Jer and I at the top of the Reichstag. It was pretty windy up there, hence the wind-swept hair! Also, it was a gorgeous 19 degrees that day!

This is the inside of the dome. You can see the ramp going round with people checking out the view. The giant cyclone-like thing in the middle is covered with mirrors. It was a really weird structure, actually.

These next three photos are of a memorial designed by Peter Eisenman and Buro Happold. It's a memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. There are 2711 slabs of concrete displayed in a grid, all at differing heights - one for each page of the Talmud. The construction is supposed to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere (they were originally supposed to be arranged in a labyrinth, but Berlin officials didn't want people to get lost or hurt in it).

Some controversy surrounds the construction: Graffiti is a huge issue in Berlin, and the memorial consists of 2711 five-sided slabs of blank canvas. Degussa, a company which produces an anti-graffiti substance called Protectosil, provides Berlin with the substance for free to help keep the memorial graffiti-free. However, a subsidiary company of Degussa, Degesch, produced Zyklon B during WWII, which was used to poison people in the gas chambers. Construction of the memorial was temporarily stopped while decisions were being made on whether or not to use the Protectosil.

Also, the site on which the memorial is built is that of a former SS Barracks. Needless to say, there is much controversy over the memorial and many people do not agree with its construction, saying the Holocaust is not an appropriate subject for a memorial.

Of course, we had to check out Check-Point Charlie. This was Checkpoint C between East and West Germany during the Cold War. Just behind me and to the left, there is the open air museum with info on the checkpoints, Cold War, attempted escapes, and much more interesting historical info. Dad, you would probably be there for hours trying to read it all! People were actually smuggled out of East Germany in hidden compartments of vehicles! Sadly, a lot of people died trying to escape East Germany.
Here's the sign that was put up at Checkpoint Charlie: "You are entering the American sector, Carrying weapons off duty forbidden, Obey Traffic Rules."

That was the last photo taken on Day 1. I'll make sure to post the others when Blogger decides to cooperate!