16 July 2012

History comes alive!

Berlin is a city with a long, diverse, and at times painful, history. I appreciate the fact that they do not try and hide or shirk from their history. In fact, one can always find a way to learn more while there. My first night in Berlin, my friend Carrie and I were walking around by the Reichstag (building from where the German Congress governs) and we saw an ad for a light show - "From Bundestag to Reichstag". We didn't know exactly what it would entail, but it sounded interesting. So we sat down (with some hot chocolate - it was a cold evening) and watched the sun set as we waited for the show to begin.

Finally it did, and it took us through the history of Berlin as a capital city and of the governing of Germany. They did a great job of incorporating videos, still images and music to convey what occurred during these times.

The other part of this show that really impressed me was that the use of English was minimal - just a few photos or videos had a one sentence (maximum) explanation of what was occurring. This video was to so much intended to be a tourist attraction as it was to educate, inform and remind Germans of their own history. In fact, we heard several Americans musing on just what this could be.

Secondly I visited a museum / exhibit / atomic bomb shelter called "The story of Berlin". Lest the title in English lead you to believe this was designed just for tourists, it actually was 100% dual language - English and German.

This exhibit again took one through the history of Berlin, starting just before World War I, ending as the 1990's began, but the focus of the exhibit centered on Berlin during the Cold War.
As I was there, there were 4 huge school groups - three of them German and one of them from England. The exhibit was so well done, that the students were truly interested in it.

The museum is housed in a mall, which may seem to be an unlikely place for such a museum, but it is there with good reason. When the parking garage for the mall was built, it was designed to also contain a bunker to protect West-Berliners from an atom bomb. 18 such bunkers were built throughout the city. The bunker tour was FASCINATING! We saw the cots they would have slept on, the control room for those who would have kept order in the bunker, the water and air filter systems (btw the allotment of water per person would have been 2.5 L a day), the kitchen, decontamination showers, gas masks and more. The bunkers were designed to be used for 2 weeks. Thankfully they were never tested for their effectiveness.

Visiting this museum and taking this tour was one of the highlights of my visit to Berlin.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Berlin, Germany

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