Berlin: A very serious city
Once we arrived at Berlin, the atmosphere definitely changed. It is no longer a city of music, like Vienna, nor a city of festival, like Munich. Berlin, to me, gives a very serious tone. It is probably attributed to its history from the World War, and also the separation that took place when Germany was divided to East and West.
In the morning, we arrived at the iconic Brandenburg gate.
Similar to other cities, we signed up for another Sandeman tour. Throughout the tour, we were able to learn the city in an in-depth level. First, we wer treated with the Holocaust Memorial. They decided to build the memorial in the middle of the city centre. There was actually a debate on where they want to build the memorial. Some said to build in the sub-urban area, some said to build near the holocaust sites. At the end, it was decided to build in the city centre (downtown) because the exposure serves its best purpose - to remind people constantly about the past and the mistake that was made by the Nazis.
The designer built these prism-like structures which are open to interpretation, either as tombstones or as memorial stones. Due to its significance, apparently you are not supposed to stand on them.
I guess I shouldn't really be smiling at these locations.
After, we were led to a very iconic location - Check Point Charlie. Checkpoint Charlie was the name given by the Western Allies to the Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War.
The picture below is a giant billboard picture of an American soldier from the West staring at the East "I am watching you" - signifies Democracy.
Here is the other side: A Soviet soldier from the East staring at the West "I am also watching you" - signifies Communism.
Sorry, I don't really remember the significant of this picture...
At the end of the walking tour, we arrived at the beautiful Berlin Cathedral.
This is Fernsehturm Berlin - which is a television tower in East Germany. If you want to learn more about East Germany, I suggest you to watch this movie called "The Lives of Others" (2006). It is a movie where an agent of the secret police was surveilling the life of a prominent Eastern German.
We walked by the Berlin Wall quickly when we had our tour. After the tour, we spent the rest of the day admiring the street art of the Berlin Wall.
The construction of the Berlin Wall was actually quite scary and tragic. When they divided East and West Germany, each state has its own jurdisdiction and governance. When people from East Germany knew about the freedom and the wealth that arise from capitalism. There was a massive emigration and defection that took place in the early 1960s. When the Eastern Bloc (East Germany government) tried to prevent the massive emigration, they constructed the wall, known as the "Iron Curtain" all in one night. Afterwards, they built a second wall behind the first wall to increase the difficulty of climbing over the wall. On the top of the walls are lined with a smooth pipe, which makes it even more difficult to escape.
It was estimated that 5,000 people tried to escape over the wall from 1961 to 1989, with an estimated death toll around 100-200 people.
In 1989, after a series of political change, Germany was finally reunified. However, the actual demolition of the wall did not begin until 1990.
The remaining pieces of the wall are now opened to the public for street graffiti art. Look at the pictures below!