Monday, November 7, 2011

Berlin, With a Past

One cannot deny that even after apologies have been made and forgiveness granted, the past still remains.  History cannot be erased by reparations or pardons, just as red wine will always leave some form of stain on carpet (not buying it, Oxy Clean [R.I.P. Billy Mays]).  Berlin is a city with historical baggage.

From the TV tower that still looms to the stark difference between Unter den Linden and Karl Marx Allee -  the capitalist and communist boulevards, West and East Berlin, respectively - there is an undeniable history entrenched in the blood of Berlin.  As mentioned before, my hostel is located near the East Side Gallery, in the (now) trendy Fredrichshain neighborhood of the East.  When the wall was still up, this was a city for the working class, those kept on the poorer, less prosperous side of the city.  Hulking concrete masses of buildings line streets, silent reminders of a past when Trabants were the car of choice on these roads.   Today, however, the Fredrichshain neighborhood is one of the liveliest in Berlin, popular with hipsters and professionals alike.  A change has been made.

During World War II, Allies and Axis powers bombed each other, each doing their best to weaken a hulking enemy.  Just as I noticed the way London was largely rebuilt in some areas during my visit in early October, Berlin bears some scars and alterations, as well. A change has been made.

Bullet holes in the columns of one of the museums on Museum Island
The Memorial to the Victims of War and Torture
Less than 70 years ago, Jews and "misfits" from all over Europe were killed by German soldiers.  These men and women may have been from Romania or Poland, or they may have been from Berlin.  If they were from Berlin, there is a chance they could have used the Eberswalder Stra├če train station.  Then, it would have been a hostile place, somewhere that Jewish symbology and a Germany under Hitler could not have coexisted.  Today, such is not the case.

A change has been made.

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