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Berlin: Topographie des Terrors

28 March 2014

On the site of the former Nazi Gestapo Headquarters and SS Central Command in Berlin (near Potsdamer Platz) is the free indoor and outdoor museum, Topographie des Terrors.
After the war, the site was levelled but made accessible to the public in 1987. Outside you'll find the remains of the headquarters including where the garage, prison and offices were.
Indoors, you will find an exhibit with 5 themes: The National Socialist Takeover of Power, Institutions of Terror (SS & Police), Terror - Persecution - and Extermination on Reich Territory, SS and Reich Security Main Office in the Occupied Countries, and The End of the War and the Postwar Era.
The exhibit is comprised of photographs, documents, videos, computer stations and reading folders. Everything (aside from the reading folders) is translated into English for international visitors.

I would highly recommend a visit to the Topographie des Terrors when you are in town to better understand the history of the Nazis and their High Command. Individuals (e.g. Heinrich Himmler) and procedure (eg. The Final Solution) are laid out in great detail sure to send a chill through even the coldest of hearts. Do allow yourself a couple of hours to visit the museum between the opening hours of 10am-8pm.

Berlin: Jüdisches Museum

27 March 2014

Architecturally appeasing, The Jüdisches (Jewish) Museum in Berlin was designed in part by architect Daniel Libeskind.  The building complex includes the old building (Baroque in style), the Libeskind building, a Garden of Exile and Holocaust Tower.
The Old Building 
The Libeskind Building
The Holocaust Tower
Inside the Libeskind building, there is a zigzagged outline of a broken Star of David with sharp corners and pathways that can cause a sense of alienation and confusion. On the lower ground floor there are the axes (axis of the holocaust, axis of exile, holocaust tower and garden of exile). Personal documents, momentos and photographs are exhibited throughout the axes.

On the ground floor, you'll find the haunting Memory Void which contains an instalment by Menashe Kadishman entitled, "Shalekhet" (Fallen Leaves).
 Making your way up towards the permanent exhibit, you'll be interested to see the staircase which leads nowhere. This is a theme common throughout the exhibition of empty spaces - "voids".
There are also two "trees" throughout the museum where visitors might share their opinions.
 After visiting the axes referencing the Holocaust, you'll need a less intense hour or so and that is where the permanent exhibit comes in handy with a chronological history of the Jews in Berlin starting in 950.
The National Socialism (1933-1945) exhibit is appropriately haunting and testifying.
In conclusion, the museum's exhibit focuses on the Jewish community in present day Berlin.
More then 100,000 Jews live in Berlin today and lest we forget and relive the horrors of the past, a visit to the Jüdisches Museum is well worth the visit. The history and architecture are rich at the museum.

Berlin: East Side Gallery

26 March 2014

The East Side Gallery in Berlin is an international memorial acknowledging the freedom sorely achieved after the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. In 1990, over an hundred artists painted murals on the East side of the wall which make up one of the largest and most famous outside art galleries. Many of the murals are quite famous in their own rights and sold commercially as shirts, mugs and posters. A few of my favourites are pictured below. Do you have a favourite?
Perhaps the most famous -- Dmitri Vrubel's depiction of Brezhnev and Honecker kissing.

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