Exchange 2017 – Day 1 & 2 – Berlin

 The first couple of days are usually the hardest. We are all suffering from jet lag. It takes a couple of days to get the rhythm of the new time.  We spent the first two days exploring downtown Berlin and some historic sites. If you look at the list below, that is where we spent our time for the first two days.  I have added pictures of all of the things we did. At the very bottom you will see a special time-lapse video of the Topography of Terror site in Berlin. 

The places we visited today are a mixture of new and old history. We started with the Memorial for Murdered Jews that is across from the Brandenburg Gate. I am always afraid the I give the students too long of a time and it turns out that they still take the full time and could use more. To walk through the stone pillars is awe inspiring and when you look at the randomness of the pillars it gives an historic meaning that is hard to describe unless you have been there. I tell the kids to just let the space and pillars and nature speak to them. They each get his or her own meaning and I can’t put it into words but I know that it is a powerful feeling.

We moved to the Brandenburg Gate and all of the history that is in the area. The American, French, UK, & Russian Embassies all within a few hundred yards. The gate itself has a long history but nothing more iconic than when the Berlin Wall went up a few hundred feet away. The line in the pavement still marks that path of the wall throughout Berlin as a constant reminder. As we went across the street we saw a small memorial to the people killed going over the Wall. In front of the Reichstag we were met be a group of people from a fitness club and they had us join in on some exercises to increase balance and focus. It was a little fun and challenging even though it looked easy. There was another small memorial for Political Prisoners who opposed Hitler. In a few short minutes we did a whirlwind of history.

After this area we moved over to Checkpoint Charlie and the Topograopfhy of Terror. The checkpoint has become so commercialized that it really isn’t much fun in spite of being very historical. We saw everything from people dressed as Russians charging for pictures to three card monty games on the corner. The kids were smart enough to not get swindled by either group. The Topography of Terror is an amazing memorial. It has a meeting of World War II and the Berlin Wall experience. They were very powerful and hard to take in completely. It is an interesting connection between the DDR and the Nazi’s of WW II through buildings and placement. I did  a movie time-lapse below that show the mixture and the full length.

We also spent some time in the Mall of Berlin but found it much like any mall in America with even the same stores. We strolled and had dinner in the Potsdamer platz and made a venture to Fassbender & Rausch for chocolate and a show of their work in chocolate. We gave them some free time on Sunday to explore the area around the Alexander Platz and the TV tower. Some went to the Berlin Cathedral and Humboldt University and St. Hedwigs.

Places Visited:

  • Brandenburg Gate
  • Memorial for Murdered Jews
  • Reichstag
  • American Embassy
  • Russian Embassy
  • Memorial for Political Prisoners
  • Checkpoint Charlie
  • Mall of Berlin
  • Topography of Terror Memorial
  • Berlin Wall
  • Potsdamer Platz
  • Fassbender & Rausch
  • TV Tower
  • Alexander Platz
  • Humboldt University
  • St. Hedwigs
  • Berliner Cathedral
  • Gendarmer Platz

Please visit the movie at the bottom to view the Topography of Terror Memorial Video