Bitte Zurück Bleiben

May 27, 2011

Bitte Zuruck Bleiben – these three words occupied my life in Munich for months. It just means, “Please stand back”…

We woke up early and rushed over to the Starbucks near the infamous Brandenburg Tor to join a free tour around Berlin. The guide was amazing and really cared about the turbulent history of the city. Some highlights were the old Luftwaffe, Airforce, building which after WWII turned into a Stasi headquarter and was the site of the general strike riots of the early 50s lead by upset contruction workers who felt that the communist system was asking for too much without repayment. Additionally, the buildings wall is lined with an old socialist realist mural depicting the DDR, or East Germany, as the perfect society. We also visited the Memorial to Jews Murdered in thé Holocaust – a chilling, abstract work of art. Basically, the memorial consists of high quality concrete blocks rangng from a few feet to atleast 15 feet high. Interestingly, there was no descriptions given. The memorial was intended to provoke the visitor, allowing for personal explanation. It was extrmely powerful and the “trappedness” of the Jews was momentarily inherited by me as I walked through. I would like to point out that the contruction of the memorial was controversial because it takes up an entire city block and is dedicated to the Jews only when other racial groups suffured similair fates during the reign of Hitler. Right after the Holocaust memorial, we walked across the street to an unmarked parking lot. The tour group huddled around with confusion. The guide began by asking if anyon knew the true story of Hitlers last days in his battle bunker. For 2 months before his death, Hitler lived underground in an advanced series of tunnels and bunkers. During these final days he came to the surface only once. The Allied forces were busy bombing Berlin day and night as the Soviets advanced into the city. The Battle of Berlin, as it became known, was the last stand for the Nazi Reich. Hitler would not accept defeat so he bit down on a cynide capsul while shooting himself. His last orders were for his body to be destroyed so that it would not be used as a trophy or simple of embarrasement for the Germans. His guards dragged his body to the surface and burned him using gasoline. Hours later, the Red Army forces found his half charred body, but denied the finding as to keep the fear of his being alive, strengthening Stalins regime.

After the tour, we went to an all-you-can-eat sushi buffet then to party. We got on the S-bahn to come back home at 5:30 am. Guten Nacht!

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