“It is always a mistake to look for the Motive behind men’s actions, beyond the human heart and its passions.” — Friedrich der Große
Monday through Friday 8:30-1pm consisted pretty much of German class. In the afternoons, I either worked on homework, watched German TV, or attempted to read German books. All the while, I searched an infinite amount of words on my dictionary. *Sigh* Languages are hard.
On Tuesday, I decided to go to the DDR Museum at Museum Island. It was actually very interesting, because the museum wasn’t really set up in chronological order, but by subject. There was a section on childhood and a section on consumerism, a section on tv programs and a section on methods of escaping the DDR. It was very cool.
I believe on Thursday a friend and I went to this huge bookstore that everyone at Goethe knows about: Dussman. It has to be three or four floors — I was bewildered by the size of it, actually. I hadn’t brought my phone, so there’s no pictures, but maybe next time.
Friday, I finished the section of the Historical Museum from 1918-1994. It was very cool and also a very in-depth exhibition.
The Enigma machine (anyone see The Imitation Game?), shredded Stasi files, a 1000 Million Mark bill, and a sculpture by Käthe Kollwitz.
One of the most interesting parts of the section were all of the posters before the Nazis banned the other parties in 1933. The Socialist, Church, and the Democratic parties competed for popularity with National Socialism for years. In the six years or so before 1933, Germans had their own version of the roaring 20s — and the stock market crash put them right where they had been in the early 20s before the currency reform. Overall I absolutely love this museum.
On Friday night, a couple of us Goethe people went out for dinner and drinks. I have to say, Germany has very good Asian restaurants: I’ve had great Japanese, Korean, and Thai food here. All the food is great in Berlin. Well, the burgers need a little help, but that’s about it. After dinner we walked about a block and found a pretty good bar, not in the least because they served beer in large glasses. So once again I found myself walking around Berlin in the early morning (almost 4). And just like before, there were people walking their dogs, women walking alone, and plenty of people on the trains. I know New York is the city that never sleeps, but Berlin could sure give the Big Apple a run for its money.
Somehow I woke up at 9am without an alarm, which was pretty good for me. Off to Potsdam I went! I don’t know if it was the caffeine or my own excitement, but I could hardly sit still for the last 10 minutes of my 40 minute journey.
Friedrich II didn’t really like Berlin (for reasons I explain more in my second post), but as king he had to stay close to the main city. What’s a guy to do?
Oh, I don’t know. Build a new palace. Build it in Potsdam. Literally name it Sanssouci (without worry) and have the coolest summer home ever.
The gardens were in hibernation, but you can imagine how beautiful they’d be in summer. The real jewel was the Schloss itself. Old Fritz loved the Italian Rococo style of decoration and the Schloss is covered in intricate designs all over the walls and ceilings.
My favorite room was the library. The design actually came from his previous palace’s library. If Friedrich knew how to apparate, I’m sure he would’ve just moved his old library, but sadly he wasn’t a wizard. At any rate, I have a whole second post about this Schloss. No, I will not quiz anyone on Sanssouci when I come back.
Saturday night I knocked out early and woke up to another day of sightseeing.
Sachsenhausen is only a half hour from Berlin itself. Its completely free to the public, except for audio guides that cost 3 Euro.
The most interesting thing about Sachsenhausen for me was its ‘beauty.’ It was designed so that the soldiers in Tower A could see the entire main section of the camp. It was thought to be a very effective, modern set up. Apparently there were also flowers and such to make the camp look nicer.
All of the barracks were lined up like this. That is Tower A on the far end. These buildings are the infirmary.
Tower A and a picture of the camp from the air. The triangle is the central camp and Tower A is at the base of the triangle.
The irony of it dawned on me. In a day, I had gone from orderly garden rows to orderly camp barracks. Orderliness is not progress.
Anyway, there were a few buildings still up: the infirmary, the general barracks, and the Jewish barracks. At the far end of the central camp, there now stands the Sachsenhausen Memorial.
It was a sobering end to the week, but a good week nonetheless. I have one last weekend in Berlin and I still have too many things to see on my list. Not sure what I’m going to get to by the 26th, but I’m going to do as much as possible.