Saturday, October 3, 2015

Day 5 Berlin

Sunday September 20 2015 - Berlin Germany
Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Weather - rainy and overcast on our last day.

The plan had been to take the train to Potsdam today but I decided that we were really enjoying Berlin and hadn't seen everything as yet so we would stay here instead.

Since we didn't have to rush anywhere we chose to have breakfast in the hotel. It turned out to be a full buffet with everything you could think of and hot and tasty. It is 16 euros probably a little pricey for Berlin but it was really good.

First order of the day is the Stasi Museum.

After mapping out the distance I insisted that we take a cab!

The Stasi Museum (also known in German as the Forschungs- und Gedenkstätte Normannenstraße is a research and memorial centre concerning the political system of the former East Germany. It is located in the former headquarters of the Stasi (officially the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit), on Ruschestraße, near Frankfurter Allee.The centrepiece of the exhibition is the office and working quarters of the former Minister of State Security – i.e. head of the Stasi – Erich Mielke.

The cab drops us off in what looks like a normal residential district with no museum in sight. We follow our instincts and are now in a bleak courtyard with apartment blocks surrounding us. There was a tour bus parked in front.

This photo is from their website and illustrates what it felt like standing outside.

From these drab buildings, 34,000 officers ran the Stasi's 39 departments. The personnel included 2,100 agents assigned round the clock to reading mail passed on from post offices and regional Stasi headquarters, 5,000 agents responsible for tailing suspects, and 6,000 operatives whose only job was listening to private telephone conversations.

The Stasi-Museum is located in House 1 on the former grounds of the headquarters of the GDR Ministry for State Security (MfS). The building was erected in 1960-61 as the offices of Erich Mielke, who served as Minister for State Security from 1957 until the end of the GDR.

We took this photo inside the museum showing the various official buildings within the compound.

This greeted us as we stepped in. You pay an extra euro in order to take photos.

On January 15, 1990, thousands of people stormed the heretofore hermetically sealed premises of the Stasi Centre in Berlin-Lichtenberg, which the former government wanted to continue operating as “Office for National Security”: the “storming of the Normannenstrasse” had begun.

The Ministry for State Security of the German Democratic Republic fell apart within a very short time. This meant that Stasi files, whose contents were and still are greatly important in dealing with the history of the GDR, were now freely accessible. Today, the building is open to the public as Research and Documentation Centre Ruschestraße 103. Photos, documents and equipment used in the surveillance of GDR citizens can be inspected, as can the office of Stasi boss Erich Mielke.

The displays are to the point and very disturbing. This was like stepping into a time machine and the exhibits are an excellent summary of the surveillance strategies the secret police used to control the people.

It is difficult to imagine the horrors of the interrogations and fear instilled in its citizens that the Stasi was able to achieve in the halls and rooms you'll walk through. I can't imagine daily life totally controlled by secret police.

Display showing hidden cameras used to spy on people. Click here to read an article about these cameras.

The offices of Erich Mielke, the last GDR Minister for State Security, are preserved in their original condition and form the centrepiece of the exhibition.

Click here to read about Stasi "romeos" who seduced women to obtain secret documents.

More great reading - an article from 1990 in the New York Times when Stasi was disbanded. 

We headed out to find a cab, we walked a few blocks and got one. We asked to be taken to Berliner Dom. I managed a glimpse of the Moskau that Halcyon had mentioned in her blog.

We hop out and I take a photo of the doors of the DOM well because I am not sure if I took it before!!

It's Sunday so all the souvenir hawkers are out. BTW, thanks "Bill" for stepping into my photo.

How great is this? I had this on my Berlin bucket list but had forgotten about it.

Ovens on feet!! Known as Berlin's grillwalkers, they sell sausages from portable grills that they wear - gas on the back; hot, hot bratfest on the front.

The innovative apparatus sprang up in 1997, when inventor Bertram Rohloff devised it as a way of skirting city street-vendor permits in the city. Without permits, "neither the grill nor the sausages could touch the ground."

My face looks like I am not enjoying this but it was delicious.

I glanced over the wall and saw this woman selling pretzels.

It has started to rain.

Reflecting on what we should do for the afternoon.

We decide to take a hop on bus - the first one that came, broke down without us ever leaving the spot.

We got to see some things that were further away and also got some photos from a different perspective.
Raindrops falling.
The Berlin "White House".

The zoo - it has the most comprehensive collection of species in the world. This made me wonder what happened to the animals during the war?

Wikipedia helped me out, naturally.
During World War II, the zoo area was completely destroyed and only 91 of 3,715 animals survived, including two lions, two hyenas, an Asian bull elephant, a hippo bull, ten hamadryas baboons, a chimpanzee, and a black stork. By the end of the war, the zoo was fortified with the Zoo Tower, a huge Flak tower that was one of the last remaining areas of German resistance against the Red Army, with its bunkers and anti-aircraft weapons defending against allied air forces. Following the zoo's destruction, it and the associated Aquarium was reconstructed on the most modern principles so as to display the animals in as close to their natural environment as feasible. The success achieved in breeding animals, including some rare species, demonstrates the efficacy of these new methods.

The steeple of the Kaiser Wilhelm Church has been left as it was after the end of World War II.

A dozen white crosses hanging on a fence aside the Ebertstraße. Each cross bears the name of a person killed trying to cross the street that once divided the now-united city.

Hopefully someone can enlighten me (us) on what this is, as neither of us remember.

The sun comes out! This is the home of the Berliner Philharmonie.

We disembark after driving around Gendarmenmarkt and that is where we head back to on foot.

Clouding over again. Finally a good shot of the Humboldt.

Along the way.

Gendarmenmarkt is a square in  and the site of an architectural ensemble including the Konzerthaus (concert hall) and the French and German Churches. 

The French Cathedral behind the umbrellas.

Nature calling? Need to powder your nose? No worries these toilets are right on the square.

In the centre of the square stands a monumental statue of Germany's renowned poet Friedrich Schiller.

I see "Bill" photobombed me again.

The square was created by Johann Arnold Nering at the end of the seventeenth century as the Linden-Markt and reconstructed by Georg Christian Unger in 1773. The Gendarmenmarkt is named after the cuirassier regiment Gens d'Armes, which had stables at the square until 1773.

The Konzerthaus Berlin is the most recent building on the Gendarmenmarkt. It was built by Karl Friedrich Schinkel in 1821 as the Schauspielhaus. It was based on the ruins of the National Theatre, which had been destroyed by fire in 1817. Parts of the building contain columns and some outside walls from the destroyed building. Like the other buildings on the square, it was also badly damaged during World War II. The reconstruction, finished in 1984, turned the theatre into a concert hall. Today, it is the home of the Konzerthausorchester Berlin.

It is now cocktail hour, getting dark and gloomy, so we look for a cozy bar. I notice a restaurant on the corner that was on my list! Dinner solved.

This was really just a bar, very elegant and civilized. No food.

Dinner at Augustiner. it was packed but we got seats at the bar.

Watching them lift the heavy beer barrel.

The bartender made a face when I ordered this and he was right, I didn't like it at all. But I had wanted to try it. John enjoyed his beef and noodles.


  1. Have you seen the film The Lives of Others? Your section on the Stasi Museum reminded me of it because it's about a Stasi officer. It's in German with subtitles which would usually put me off, but I was enthralled. One of the best films I have ever seen though the subject matter didn't sound promising. Berlin is wonderful, you have brought back memories of my two visits. Good to see the beer being appreciated too - Prost!
    Anabel's Travel Blog

  2. The door of the DOM particularly stands out to me. The Stasi museum is as one would expect of that organization- bleak and foreboding, which makes it work.


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