Kristin and I just flew back to San Francisco today, but I still have so many pictures from our trip to share!
On our second day in Berlin, Kristin and I met up with a group from Insider Tour to take a grand tour of Berlin. Our tour guide, Mike, was amazing. He studied the World Wars in college and moved from New Zealand to Berlin to marry his wife, whose family is from Berlin.
This guy knew his stuff.
Here's Kristin and me standing in front of a cathedral in Berlin.
One cool thing that Mike pointed out on our tour was the bullet holes EVERYWHERE in Berlin. Since Berlin didn't have a lot of money to repair the devastated buildings, they had to leave what was still standing or repair with the materials they had from the fallen buildings.
Lots of buildings look patchy, like this cathedral. When rebuilding the city, the Berliners used whatever material they could from the destruction to repair the damaged parts on buildings.
When Kristin and I were on the train ride to Berlin, we sat with an older German man (we didn't catch his name!) for a couple of hours. He studied law at Humbolt University.
Come to find out on our tour, this is a pretty prestigious law school and the site of where student-organized book burnings took place as Hitler took over.
At Humbolt, there's a neat memorial for the Nazi book burnings. Beneath this piece of glass are a ton of empty bookshelves that represent how many books were burned during the burnings at Humbolt.
Oh- did I mention the Schiller clan is FAMOUS?!
Everywhere in Berlin I saw my last name.
Here's our awesome tour guide Mike. He's explaining the difference between Western and Eastern Germany and West and East Berlin by drawing us a chalk map.
Wherever the wall once stood in Berlin is a double-brick line. Here I am standing in East and West Berlin at the same time.
(Politely, Mike pointed out that technically I wasn't standing in East and West Berlin because I didn't take into account the no-man's-land death strip that was on the Eastern side of the wall, but hey- technicalities. Tomato-tomahto.)
This mural was pretty interesting. The mural in the background at the House of Ministries is communist life in theory. Everyone's working, happy and equal.
The huge photo in the foreground is communist life in reality in 1953.
In 1953, there was an uprising against communism. Work quotas were upped and workers were threatened with a pay cut if the quotas weren't met. Outraged workers went on strike and protested outside of the House of Ministries and eventually Soviet tanks came in and shot at the workers.
More than 100 were killed.
Doesn't the House of Ministries remind you of the Ministry of Magic in Harry Potter?
Here's the mural up close. You can see the politician shaking hands with the day laborer and the guys working on the railroad are smiling.
After taking a walk around the Ministry of Magic- I mean, the House of Ministries, we went to the Memorial of the Murdered Jews in the middle of the city.
There are thousands of concrete slabs the size of coffins that are different sizes. You start out on one side, that's supposed to represent the 1930s, and walk through to the other side. As you walk down the aisles, the slabs get higher and higher and the ground gets lower and lower.
It's pretty powerful.
The higher slabs in the middle as you're walking to the 1940s side are supposed to represent the higher number of Jewish people killed.
As you continue walking, the slabs get smaller and the ground evens out. There are trees on the 1940s side and the slabs even continue onto the sidewalk.
Definitely one of my favorite memorials. As you're walking through the aisles of concrete and you look down a row, the slabs aren't perfectly lined up so some stick out, making them look like tombs.
Again, powerful stuff.
We ended our tour in Paris Square and took a look at the Brandenburg Gate
Back in the 1800s, Napolean took the Roman goddess on top of the Brandenburg Gate back to Paris but then was returned to Berlin after the Prussians beat Napolean.
How Napolean got that big statue off the Brandenburg Gate blows my mind.
Kristin and I spent the rest of the afternoon at the Pergamon Museum checking out replicas of Greek art and architecture. The Pergamon was pretty awesome.
More Berlin photos to come!