The government quarter

Berlin Travel Blog

 › entry 10 of 17 › view all entries
Holocaust memorial
Some exploring in the government quarter of Berlin today. The district is packed full of so much history, the German Empire, the Nazis, the Communist government, all have left their mark. We started down at the site of Hitler's bunker, now destroyed but many other Nazi bunkers are still intact and it is even possible to visit them.

We then visited the Holocaust memorial (officially, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe). It is a very interesting memorial, no large statue just a field of 2711 stelae standing in rows like gravestones. The surface across the stelae forms a rough sea, flat across the horizon, but when you walk among them they soon tower over you, as the ground deceptively swells and falls.
Reichstag
It is designed to make the walker feel uneasy and confused. The memorial caused quite a controversy in Berlin during its construction, when it was found that the company making the anti-graffiti coating, Degussa, had previously produced the poison gas Zyklon B for the Nazis to use in their extermination camps. There was talk of ripping it up and starting again, but the architect argued that German industry has dark roots that need to be dealt with, and where would they end up drawing the line? Banning everyone who wore Adidas shoes from entering? (Adidas produced Panzerschreck anti-tank missiles for Germany during WWII).

We then walked up to the Brandenburg Gate, the historic entrance to the city and one of the few old buildings in this quarter (which was largely destroyed during WWII).
We had lunch on Pariser Platz, Lina had an enormous currywurst, with the curry spinkled on in the shape of the Brandenburg Gate. The cafe we were sitting at is frequently visited by visiting VIPs, being just across the Platz from the major embassys and the most exclusive hotel in Berlin. While we were having lunch the Ambassador to Burundi came in and had lunch with us (it took us half an hour to work out which country the flag on the diplomatic car matched).

Finally we moved to the Reichstag, the parliament of Germany. The beautiful old Reichstag was left just a shell after WWII, the architect Norman Foster took advantage of this by building a modern glass and steel building within the old shell. The glory of the Reichstag is the glass dome on top. We climbed up onto the roof of the Reichstag and into the dome, where we could look out over the city of Berlin or down onto the Bundestag. The ability of the public to watch their parliament closely at all times through the glass dome is meant to be a key symbol of transparancy. Possibly another symbolic gesture is the central air shaft which allows hot stale air from the debating chamber to vent.
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Holocaust memorial
Holocaust memorial
Reichstag
Reichstag
Reichstag
Reichstag
Reichstag
Reichstag
Reichstag
Reichstag
Reichstag
Reichstag
Reichstag
Reichstag
Holocaust memorial
Holocaust memorial
Holocaust memorial
Holocaust memorial
Holocaust memorial
Holocaust memorial
Ambassador of Burundi
Ambassador of Burundi
Reichstag
Reichstag
Reichstag
Reichstag
Reichstag
Reichstag
Reichstag
Reichstag
Reichstag
Reichstag
Holocaust memorial
Holocaust memorial
Reichstag
Reichstag
Holocaust memorial
Holocaust memorial
Brandenburg gate
Brandenburg gate
Brandenburg gate
Brandenburg gate
Holocaust memorial
Holocaust memorial
Reichstag
Reichstag
Reichstag
Reichstag
Reichstag
Reichstag
Berlin
photo by: CFD