Still love Berlin, I’m sorry people.
Definitely going to sleep on my train tonight to Stockholm (which is actually not going via Denmark, so I’m intrigued as to how we’re getting there). The past two days have been full of more and more history, it’s intoxicating.
Yesterday I set off for the 1936 Olympic stadium, thinking it would be not much more than the usual: a couple of photos, a walk around the perimeter, etc. I ended up staying half the day there – now I know nothing about architecture, but the stadium looked pretty awesome to me. My guide told me it was the Nazi neoclassical style, designed to make the individual feel small and relatively powerless in relation to the might of the political system and what the building was housing – sporting competition, which was simply a prelude to war according to Nazi ideology. It was fascinating, especially the rally grounds directly north of the stadium, which were still preserved. The only bad part was having to share the grounds with plenty of others certainly not on some sort of Olympic pilgrimage – a soccer pilgrimage more like. The stadium is still very much in use, hosting the World Cup final last year between Italy and France.
The rest of the day was spent exploring – namely Charlottenburg, the former East Berlin centre of Alexanderplatz and West Berlin’s centre of Zoologischer Garten and Kurfürstendamm. East Berlin’s certainly looking snazzier these days, as the city’s ripped up a heap of the old Soviet-style buildings, usually because they look awful, but also because plenty of them are riddled with asbestos.
I decided on Nazi Berlin for my tour today, after visiting the German History Museum this morning. I only got up to Napoleon marching into Russia before realising I was going to be late for the tour. So now I’ve got a big gap in my knowledge of German history spanning from then until basically the First World War. Out comes the history books when I get home.
The tour, led by an Aussie (of course, I’m starting to get used to this) was great, taking us to the headquarters of the Gestapo, the Soviet War Memorial (which strangely is in West Berlin), where Stauffenberg (who tried to assassinate Hitler – apparently Tom Cruise is playing him in an upcoming movie) was killed, and the Goebbels’ propaganda ministry.
And for a few certain someones – apparently Tom Cruise went on one of these tours a few weeks ago (and was very nice, grrr) and we also went to the Hotel Adlon. Now who knows why that hotel is famous? I’m going to leave that one open…
Where else? I’m looking through my photos. The TV Tower, which was built by the East Germans – the sun makes it look as if there’s a huge cross on it which made the Communists very cranky indeed – they were at that time demolishing just about every religious symbol in East Germany. Bebelplatz was also a highlight – the site of the Nazis’ infamous book burning that I remembered learning about in Year 11. The staff and students of nearby Humboldt University (one of the most prestigious universities in the world) willingly took part at the time, and to this day staff members now sell copies of some of the 20,000 books burnt that night outside the gates of the university rain, hail or shine. Now that was cool – history was right there.
Food-wise I’m not complaining at all. Food is as cheap as chips here, and the fact that Berlin is the largest Turkish city outside of Turkey means that I’m getting used to meals of doner kebab and borek. I’ve also tried yummy currywurst and some schnitzel thing, and I’ve just realised apple strudel is German. Yummo.
Oh yeah, I’ve also been compiling a little list. Steffi Graf, Boris Becker, Michael Schumacher, Claudia Schiffer, Engels, Kant, Nietzsche and Marx, Rainer Schuttler, Martin Luther, the Pope, and the Grimm brothers. I had forgotten about Heidi Klum, as well as Hugo Boss! Everyone else I could think of was a Nazi. Hasselhoff is loved here, it’s strange. Where was Petr Korda from? I’m thinking he was a Czech. Still is, I suppose.