Our day began at the New Synagogue. The Synagogue is not in use anymore and instead is home to a Museum documenting Jewish life. The most interesting part of the exhibition was the section that had a profile of important political figures during the War from countries around the world. The explanations described the alliances each country had with Germany and Hitler at the time. I was most surprised about the amount of countries who sided or made deals with Germany because they were scared and later got screwed over because Hitler didn’t keep his word.
Shristi and I thought it would be a smart idea to buy a ticket for the hop-on-hop-off bus since Berlin is a great big city and we wanted to get a lot done in one day. We took the bus one stop to get to the Synagogue but then when we were waiting for the next one, it drove past us. Running down the street after it wasn’t very graceful. The next bus was another half hour wait.
Instead we caught the city train to Warschauer Street station in the Friedrichshain district. Just down the road by the river is the East Side Gallery.
The 40km Berlin Wall was built in one night, 12-13 August 1961. It is incredible that no one tipped off the construction of this wall and that it was put up so quickly!
The wall divided the city for 28 years. West Berlin was the Capitalist side, and at the time there were lookout towers for tourists to gawp across to the East.
East Berlin however was the communist side; much different circumstances where attempts to escape over the wall could be punished by death.
My mum was around my age when she travelled to Berlin in 1977. She emailed me a photo of her sitting on the wall. I love how I could visit and take a photo of my own years later. My mum only had Polish citizenship, so only communist status. She could only stay on the East side.
Shristi also found out that her mum visited Berlin during this hard time. She however had Australian citizenship and so was on the West side of Berlin and had no trouble passing through Checkpoint Charlie to cross to the East side as a tourist.
Checkpoint Charlie was once the control point for Entry to East Berlin.
I love thinking about how so much changes with time. Where two mothers from completely different backgrounds had limited choice to visit contrasting sides of Berlin years ago, now their daughters could travel and visit the city together with no obstacles.
The next street over from the Checkpoint is Mauerreste. This is another section of the Berlin Wall still standing. It is not painted like the other wall we visited.
Under the Wall there is an alcove which now has a brief history of the city. We read about Hitler and his antics during the war and actually discovered that the day we were there was the same day that Hitler committed suicide: 30 April 1945.
We were exhausted after our very long and busy day but it was already too late to go back to our hostel and rest a little before exploring the city at night. Therefore, We decided to head straight to the ‘clubbing’ district, Friedrichshain.
Despite being only midnight on a Wednesday – apparently nothing happens before at least 2AM in Berlin (crazy because lockout in Brisbane is 2AM…) – we saw a group of young people gathering in one area and decided to check it out. The place was called Suicide Circus, and despite entry being a little steep we made our way in. From the outset it looked like a cosy outdoor bar, but then we realised there was an inside packed with people and a German Rap show which would perform until 6AM!
The whole situation was completely random! The whole time Shristi and I were in awe, expressing how crazy cool it was that we ended up in a club in Berlin listening to German Artists.
Most of the performances were in German and sounded really catchy, but most likely all the lyrics were probably very crude knowing the rap genre. For us however, it was an opportunity to soak in the awesome atmosphere, listen to the music and check out the cute German boys in the audience.