At the end of June, I spent a weekend in Germany’s capital, Berlin, with my family. We stayed in a cool apartment near the river in the Kreuzberg neighborhood. I crammed lots of sightseeing, eating, and even a bit of partying into my short trip. Berlin is a really cool city, but I was struck by how absolutely massive it is!
After I got over my feeling of being overwhelmed, the second thing that struck me was that the city is like a living museum. Almost everywhere you go, there are still very clear reminders of the war. In fact, the city goes to large measures to point them out to you.
This is a huge difference from what I’ve seen in Spain and how they’ve dealt with the post-Franco era. For instance, I spent four months going to Spanish classes in a little town in Andalucía and had no idea a major Francoist concentration camp had been there. Spain has taken steps to try to forget about the fascist years, but Germany doesn’t have this luxury.
What was interesting was how they owned and reclaimed the history. The East Side Gallery is a huge public art exhibition on the remains of the Berlin Wall. It’s a stunning reminder not to forget, but to remember while moving forwards. It’s also a great way to reclaim a once oppressive space. Here are some of my favorite pieces on the Wall.
You could probably spend all day looking at the incredible ways that artists have transformed the wall into the vibrant East Side Gallery. It’s fascinating to see just how much Berlin has changed in such a short time period.
Hope you enjoyed this mini-tour of the East Side Gallery. I have some cheerier photos of Berlin to share, so I’ll post those soon.