Berlin the First

by Dc Froburg September. 20, 2007 3447 views

The Brandenburg Gate is a former city gate and one of the main symbols of Germany. During the Third Riech, the Brandenburg Gate was the symbol for Berlin. It constitutes the monumental termination of Unter den Linden, the renowned boulevard of linden trees which led directly to the royal residence. It was commissioned by Friedrich Wilhelm II as a sign of peace and built by Carl Gotthard Langhans from 1788 to 1791. As a side note, Napoleon took the statue from the gate and brought it to Paris after his conquest of the city. The statue depicts Viktoria, the goddess of victory, and first held a olive branch. When the Prussians defeated Napoleon, they retrieved the Quadriga (a yoke of four horses) and replaced the olive branch with the Iron Cross, a symbol of Teutonic power and ambition. The goddess now glances somewhat gloatingly to her right, exactly where the French embassy is located. The gate is also the entrance to the Pariser Platz, which commemorates the 1814 occupation of France.

The Nikolaikirche at dusk. Built between 1220 and 1230, it was originally a Roman Catholic church, until the Protestant Reformation, after which it housed a Lutheran (who else?) congregation. It was nearly totally destroyed in the Allied bombing raids in WWII.

The Reichstag, which houses the German Parliament and its legislative proceedings. The glass dome houses a unique arrangement of mirrors which channel sunlight directly into the Parliament house floor. The idea is that the legislators can see directly who they are serving as they look up, and in turn, German citizens visiting the building can keep an eye on their elected officials. The building began operating as the house of Parliament in 1894 until 1933 when a fire destroyed the structure completely. It is now widely accepted that the blaze was a part of a Nazi plot to indict the Communists as an imminent threat in order to suspend civil rights and finalize the party's control of Germany. Therefore, the German people take pride in the fact that the Reichstag never held the 'sham' parliament of the Nazi regime. It was rebuilt in 1964, after its ruins being further damaged from Allied bombing raids, and vandalism by Soviet troops during The Battle of Berlin up through the Cold War. In 1916 the seemingly democratic phrase "DEM DEUTSCHEN VOLKE" (to the German people) was engraved over the entrance despite the country being led by Kaiser Wilhelm II. The German Parliament, called the Bundestag, resumed sessions in the Reichstag in 1999, after settling various debates after the Reunification of East and West Germany, before which the Parliament of West Germany had met in Bonn, the provisional capital.

The Berliner Dom. 'Dom' meaning cathedral in German. The site originally was the location of another cathedral which Kaiser Wilhelm II had demolished to build the Berliner Dom as a rival to St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. This building was also almost completely destroyed by Allied bombing raids in WWII. It reopened as a church in 1993.

The ornate entrance to the Berliner Dom. The gold engraving surrounding the statue above the arch reads "See, I am with you, all days until the end of the world. / Our faith is the victory, which overcame the world."

The German Bus system is very precise, very exact.

So is the German subway system, one of the world's oldest, with its first line opening in 1902.

Most stations have been updated from Gothic text, to this modern font. Im guessing this happened in the 1970's…

Personally, I think the Weberweise stop should have been the setting for 'A Clockwork Orange". I could definitely see some ultra-violence occuring here, or maybe a little bit of the 'in-and-out'. It was unfulfilling to see it devoid of droogs.

St. Marienkirche.

The Rathaus, or City Hall. 97m tall, and made of red brick. Reminds me of the UMASS library, but with style.

Inside the Lowenbrau Biergarten. This picture does not do it justice, as this is only perhaps 5% of the people in attendance. The band wore lederhosen and played what I assume were traditional German polka.

I could not leave without a picture of an actual alp-horn. These are super-labor intensive instruments, because you can only start with a tree which has actually grown in this shape as result of growing on the highly pitched slopes of the Alps.

You may at first be wondering what is so special about this tree, and this patch of ground. Well, as morbid as it may be, I am actually directly above the private quarters of the Fürherbunker, the bunker which housed the top of the Nazi chain of command until Hitler's death by suicide April 30, 1945. Apparently, experts claim that the first thing his SS men did upon hearing the fatal shot, was to light cigarettes, as Hitler had banned them from doing so inside the bunker for he thought the habit "unpure". His death was confirmed from his dental records which were unique for the time, because he was vegetarian, and had a obsession with sweet Austrian pastries. This meant he had an extraordinary number of fillings, which made his dental records easily identifiable. His lower mandible was all that was left after his subordinates attempted to burn his body, which was captured by Soviet troops after they sized the city. The Soviets repressed the knowledge in order to fabricate the possibility of Hitler's survival which they then used as a premise to occupy the region 'to defend against a fascist resurgence'. Today on top of the bunker site is a complex of East German socialist apartment complexes with a playground. There will never be any type of memorial or marker, out of fear that it would become a shrine for Nazi-Fascist sentiment.

Switching to the other political extreme, here I am enjoying a Kristallweissbier (clear white beer) and a Rostbratwurst im Brötchen (grilled sausage in a little bun), at Prater, the famous Biergarten gathering place for the German Communist Party.

Me and our friend Andreas, enjoying some bier at the Löwenbraü Biergarten just outside the Rathaus.

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Co-authors and theorists behind Communist theory.

The Fernsehturm (TV Tower). Built during 1965-1969 by Fritz Dieter at Alexanderplatz. This is the tallest structure in Berlin, and was commissioned by the socialist government of the GDR (German Democratic Republic) as a symbol of East German technical prowess as much as prosperity. It stands 207m tall at the observation deck (the first band of darker windows) and 368m at the tip of the antenna. Intended by the GDR to be a public relations coup for its secular regime, this hope was thoroughly dashed when upon the first sunny day after its unveiling, the light of the sun makes a gigantic cross. The locals refer to this phenomena as 'Rache des Papstes' or 'The Pope's revenge'. Humorously, after this architectural debacle, Fritz Dieter never made another building, and so the tower is also refered to as "Dieter's last erection".

St. Marienkirche and the Fernsehturm. The Church of St Mary was built sometime near 1300, as far as records can tell, and like 80% of Berlin's inner city, it was heavily damaged in Allied bombing raids. It also along with St. Nikolaikirche was originally a Roman Catholic church, but became Lutheran after the Protestant Reformation. This view looks at the front entrance into Alexanderplatz.

Statue of Friedrich Schiller the great German poet, friend and contemporary of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, outside of the Konzerthaus (Concert House) in the Gendarmenmarkt. Adolf Hitler so admired Schiller, that in anticipation of Allied bombing attacks on Berlin, he had the statue removed to preserve it from damage. So for the duration of the war, there was just the base, until conditions allowed for its replacement. It is the only structure in Gendarmenmarkt to survive the bombing raids intact. The four women at the corners are Muses. The building behind it is the Französiche Dom (French Cathedral) built by the Huguenots, or French Calvinists. Directly opposite the Französiche Dom is Der Deutsche Dom, (German Cathedral) built only years after its French counterpart to placate those who protested against a French church in such a major square in Berlin.

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Aizat Selamat 9 years ago

awesome. would love to visit germany someday

9 years ago Edited
David Cardona 12 years, 10 months ago

Wonderful set! Thanks for sharing!

12 years, 10 months ago Edited