Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Days 5+6

This was our first weekend in Berlin and the city had so much to offer. Two major festivals were going on over the weekend, the Fête de la Musique and the Lesbian and Gay City Festival. The Fête de la Musique draws music lovers from around the globe. Musicians and singers of all different genres perform for free throughout Berlin to big crowds. On Sunday, a group of us went to a restaurant near our hostel in Kreuzberg to hear a jazz and rock group perform. Many of us also participated in the Lesbian and Gay City Festival where there was lots of food, drinks, and anti-homophobia stickers to be had.
This weekend I also had the chance to explore Hackescher Markt, only a few S-Bahn stops from our hostel. This open-air market includes fruit stands, handmade jewelry vendors, and one very charismatic man selling solar powered key chains with which you can charge your smartphone. Here I also had the opportunity to try my first Döner which was absolutely delicious.
On a far more serious note, I visited the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe with two of my peers. The memorial is composed of hundreds of big concrete slabs. As you walk through the memorial you feel overwhelmed as the deaths of these murdered individuals loom on all sides of you. An underground exhibition provides a wonderful tribute to those who lost their lives under National Socialist rule. In one room, the names and stories of victims are read. If all the names of those killed were read in this manner, it would take over six years to hear them all. Another room contains the letters and diary entries of those affected. I was moved by one man’s suicide note to his family as he sought relief from the terror around him. In another letter, a young woman wrote her father saying she desperately did not want to die. Photos showed dead, frail bodies being bulldozed in concentration camps. It was difficult to handle the horrors depicted but I was so impressed by the museum’s ability to share individual’s stories from across Europe.
I also visited the Eastside Gallery which is one remaining strip of the Berlin Wall. Various images from the Wall can be seen below:

Posted by: Anna Gallagher

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