We headed to the Reichstag building - home of the German parliament. Our tour guide explained that the German system of government is similar to that of a parliamentary system - closer to ours than the USA. Most of the original building (constructed from 1884 - 1894) was destroyed in a fire in 1933. This took place early in Hitler's political career and in fact, was blamed on communists. This Nazis an excuse to round up and jail communists. Historians are still not sure who actually burned the Reichstag - some believe it was the communists, others feel it was the Nazis who then used the event to say the country was under attack from within and the regime could more easily go after its enemies.
It was neat to see the remnants of the old building and locations where Soviet soldiers, using charcoal, wrote anti-Nazi comments. This section was preserved when the building was renovated. Now, it is highly modernized and very secure. Airport type security to get in and then doors that are opened by a guard. Outside door opens, once people are in the secured area, the outside door closes before the inside door opens. This prevents a straight line of access into the building.
We had a chance to sit inside the parliament chamber - the MPs are not in session. Although we did see the location where Angela Merkel uses as an office in this building. Her official office building is about a block away. We went onto the terrace and were able to see a great view of the city. Again, lots of green space to be seen in this city of 3.5 million. Also visible was where the Berlin Wall once stood - directly behind the Reichstag! In the photo below, the ladies are stepping on a line of bricks. This is the old line of the Berlin Wall. These and other similar stones are found all around the city.
A five minute walk away was the Brandenburg Gate. It was built between 1788-1791 as a city gate (it faced in the direction of the city of Brandenburg, hence its name. From 1961 to 1989 it became a symbol of the division of Germany. Today, it is a symbol of reunification of Germany. Photo of me straddling the location of the former wall with the Reichstag building in the background.
Our next stop was a Holocaust memorial (Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe - it opened in 2005)- very interesting. Cement blocks of various sizes in an area that is about half a block around. The blocks are in straight rows, but various heights which makes it into a bit of a maze - but you can walk in a straight line through... sort of hard to explain... On the one hand you know there are many other people all around you, but you can't see them, so you feel alone/isolated. Much like I imagine the Jews felt during the Holocaust. There are other memorials to various groups who were persecuted by the National Socialist Regime (the preferred reference in Germany - not Nazis).
Dinner in the historic area and then a subway ride back to the hotel. Another early day tomorrow...
Vielen Dank für die Zeit nehmen, meinen Blog zu lesen. Check Google translate...