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Palenque's Berlin Journal

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Berlin to me is one of the most fascinating cities in Europe right now; i try to go there every few years just to check up on the amazingly changing scene. And I'd love to hear what others thing and feel when going to Berlin. I know the city leaves some cold - in no way can it be compared to Paris, London, Rome, etc., other major world capitals - what was lost in WWII can never be recovered - not only in its physical desecrated from bombs but its spiritual decimation - pre-WWII Berlin was an extremely lively place where it seems anything goes. There were many foreigners who gravitated here, turning Berlin into a rival to Paris for its cultural and social scene. But what it is what's going on now - the whole place seems to be one massive construction site - that intrigues me - the chance to see a major world capital being re-created practically in one fell swoop. Whereas for decades during the Cold War Berlin was divided by The Wall and thus the development of the divided city center was stiffled, after the Wall fell, Berlin finally began to rebuild from war destruction, much like cities like Munich, Hamburg and Frankfurt had done years before. Until recently the area around the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag and Potsdammer Platz still resembled a war zone -bare fields in what was one the heart of Berlin, for the Wall ran right thru this area. Now the building cranes are ubiquitous as not only has the Reichstag been rehabbed and topped with a marvelous glass domed top, a stunningly spiffy nearly all glass central train station nearby is nearing completion, the Holocaust Memorial has opened and Potsdammer Platz has risen from its ashes to once again become a focal point of Berlin.
But it's not only the new Berlin that grabs my attention, it's also its dark Nazi past that adds to its unique atmosphere - though many were decimated in WWII there are still plenty of grim Nazi-era edifices extant - the notorious Plotzensee (sp?) prison with its garrets and hooks where the Nazis gruesomely executed many, the Topography of Terrors, an exhibit on Nazi excesses in a former Gestapo headquarters, the former Luftwaffe headquarters and the Olympic Stadium, still used and modernized but where also the lingering images of Hitler presiding over the 1936 Olympics while Jessie Owens was helping to smash the myth of Arryan supremacy. And there's Hitler's bunker - at a sight never pointed out by tourist maps but somewhere in a field near the new Holocaust Memorial by the Brandenburg Gate. Though intact, the underground bunker where Hitler commited suicide in the final days of the war, there is a debate now on whether to preserve it or completely destroy it to prevent it becoming a rallying point for Neo-Nazis.
And then there's The Wall - tracking down its remains fascinates me. I had been in Berlin several times when the Wall starkly divided Berlin - to glimpse it provoked a weird feeling about people being walled in, speaking volumes about the bankruptcy of the 'peoples movement' of the Communists who ran the old DDR.
TO BE CONTINUED - again i'd love to have others enter what kind of feelings Berlin leaves with you!

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