Katy D shares her Berlin blog entry. Keep sending them in!! #berlin2013 #tweko

Posted: July 25, 2013 in Uncategorized
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The Potsdam palace was an amazing building, the architecture was incredible but it was the stories that the building told that was the most interesting. Everything from the red star of flowers in the courtyard to the picture of the dog in the American presidents office told us something. It was probably one of my favourite visits of the trips, with so many small facts and anecdotes. But when it comes to the most eye opening visit, it had to be our second day in Berlin, when we visited the Stasi prison camp. It was incredible to see the conditions that people we forced to live in, though most of them had never done anything wrong. Walking around the underground prison cells during a boiling hot day made some of us feel a little ill, I can hardly imagine what it must have been like for the people imprisoned there, some of them for years without seeing another human being other than their guards.

The first day in Berlin was also amazing, we went on a walking tour around Berlin, allowing us to see many different historical places, and memorials. For me, the most memorable was the memorial to the burning of Jewish books in the centre of Berlin. The memorial consists of many empty bookcases set beneath a layer of glass, this represents that the books are gone and that we are unable to ever get them back. Though it may be a simple memorial, it is very effective and really gets across the point that it is impossible to change the past, it that we can learn from it all the same.

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We also got a chance to see the remainder of the Berlin Wall, as well as some of the beautiful murals that several sections of the wall have been turned into. In addition to this we walked around Checkpoint Charlie and the museum that had been created there. It was fascinating to learn about the wall; for a very long time I had believed that the Berlin Wall was simply one layer of concrete. When in fact many sections consisted of two walls with an area in between them with guards dogs and barbed wire. But by far the most unbelievable was the methods of escape used by some East Berliners to get across the border, including a homemade hot air balloon, using the seat of a sports car to conceal some one, or several suitcases to hide in.

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We also learned about the conditions in the concentration camps in and around Germany, though we had already learned about this topic in school it doesn’t stop the impact that the information about the labour camps cause. Which is partly one of the reasons why the memorial for the murdered Jews was so meaningful. The memorial was very simple; countless numbers of concrete blocks, all the same shape and colour, but all different sizes, but in spite of that, it showed very clearly, that though the Jews were murdered because they were stereotyped as all being the same, each and everyone was different, and individual, just like the different blocks of concrete.

– Katy D

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