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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Best of the season to you!

Christmas Market in Gendarmen Platz (from above)

Checkpoint Charlie (for background, read John LeCarre)

The war memorial Neue Wache houses the beautiful and moving sculpture Mother and her dead son, by the Berlin artist Käthe Kollwitz. The sculpture is directly set under an oculus and is exposed to the weather, and symbolizes the suffering of civilians during the war.

Napoleon and I both stood by the Brandenburger Tor (Brandenberg Gate).
Only one of us never went to prison for his ambitions...

My name is Gary and I'm a recovering blogger. I used to blog once or twice a week and stay in touch with my blogging compatriots in other ways. Now I'm doing other things - including I confess, using Facebook almost daily.

I still look at your blogs now and then - you know who you are!

I was in Berlin for the first time, in early December for some Amnesty work (volunteer).

Above are a few pics from the visit. My impressions from a skim-visit to Berlin? It's a multi-layered place, with historical and real ghosts swirling through its subways and with the blown snow between the attractive buildings.

The bottom layer is a cold village, huddled in the swampland along the River Spree. Above that one senses the blare of Prussian trumpets, the rustling of nation-building and snorting horses. The turmoil of the early 20th century piled on top of that quickly - with the horrors of war, the breeding ground for fascism and the freewheeling good times of music, cabaret and delicious sin! Then Berlin was so connected to the insanity that killed 60 million worldwide...and the murder of so many Jews and others... The 3rd Reich and its horrors are there - it's inescapable. This is followed immediately by four decades of the cold war, with the wall, the spies, the wire, the women with beards winning Olympic medals - the interesting craziness of it all. Down with the wall - Trabis now free to roam, and a new Germany forms as the top layer. And even that Germany is not simple - 25% of the city are immigrants or immigrant children, it's a mecca for gay culture, it has 160 museums...high fashion, astounding architecture and business all stroll hand in hand with graffiti covered walls, artist squats and underground music. It's the post-old-new-past-post-future Europe!

Did I like it? You bet I did...

Who ever would have guessed that when the wall came down the US would begin building higher and more frightening ones? I hope one day the country that sheltered me and drove me mad with its dichotomies of wonderful people, magnificent landscapes, wild cities, ugly politics, class crazed capitalists, and religions without morals may one day mature as Berlin is doing.

I hope you have a fine Christmas.
Hi Gary,
What a captivating description and thanks for sharing those thoughts with us. I feel like visiting already!
We found visiting Nuremberg interesting but could only look at photos of Berlin.
Best wishes for Christmas!! I got your card today!!
christmas in Berlin!?

with the ghost of mapoleon and a few other war lords.... ghosts of christmas past, present and future.... perhaps the marleys and scrooge?

be well o amnestesiac.
When I went to Germany many years ago, I unfortunately did not get a chance to stop into Berlin. After reading this, I know that I definitely must.

I'm sure there was a bit of an eerie feeling, walking around with all those ghosts of the past swirling above your head. Many parts of Europe make me feel that way.

Happy New Year, Gary!
Just poking around the blogo-sphere...

Hope you're well Gary

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