Since my last post, I’ve made my way to Berlin, a city which I am absolutely in love with. I’ve been able to find delicious vegetarian food wherever I go, the food is still very cheap, and the city is much more LGBT friendly than Istanbul. Yesterday, I went on six hour walking tour of Berlin. I was able to see the remains of the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, and the memorials for the Jewish and Homosexual victims of the holocaust.
Seeing the Berlin Wall was truly amazing. I have a lot of trouble wrapping my mind around how a city could be divided in the way Berlin was during the Cold War, but our tour guide actually grew up in the divided city and was able to give us several anecdotes that explained how this actually played out for the citizens for Berlin. It was also very interesting to hear her explain the positives sides of socialism, and why it failed in the case of East Berlin. In my American education, socialism is always viewed in a very negative light and I always imagined East Berlin as an extremely impoverished place, but that actually wasn’t the case. East Berlin was not an impoverished place, it just wasn’t a rich place, instead, people were all on the general same income level. Obviously there were a lot of problems with East Berlin, but it was really great to learn about the situation without the obvious American bias.
Seeing the holocaust memorials was also extremely powerful. As a member of the LGBT community, the memorial to the homosexuals was really intense to see. Although lesbians were not persecuted for their lesbianism during the holocaust (instead they could be persecuted as antisocials), the creators of the memorial chose to include lesbian couples as well as gay male couples in order to symbolize how homophobia plays out today. The memorial for the Jewish victims of the holocaust was extremely abstract, which I think is for the better because it is so difficult to visually portray such a horrific event. Interestingly enough, there is no museum or exhibition at the site of the bunker where Hitler committed suicide for the fear of the site attracting neo-nazis. It was very shocking to me to learn that this was a serious concern.
I’m looking forward to checking out more Berlin museums in the couple weeks and hopefully I’ll post about those as well!