Friday, January 18, 2013

January 17 & 18

January 17
In the morning we took the train to the Grunewald train station which is where the majority of the Berlin Jews were deported from. The tracks are no longer in use and there is a very discrete memorial on the platform itself. The memorial consists of every date of deportation, the intended location of the train and the number of Jews deported. The train tracks were very quiet and isolated and being there was a very unsettling feeling; I also thought that the numbers were just staggering, thousands of people were deported at one time to death camps to be killed. Being at the train station made me wonder why no one would question the Nazi government about what was happening to these people, its scary to realize that over a thousand people can be taken from one city and never heard from again without having someone question what was going on.

We left the train station and traveled to the Wannsee house, where higher ups in the Nazi government met to decide how to carry out the "Jewish problem". The house itself is a beautiful villa on a lake (the picture on the left) that was given to the Nazi party by a wealthy business man. The villa is now a museum that covers the history of what happened from the early Nazi period until the Nuremberg trials. It was hard for me to connect this beautiful house with the decision to kill millions of people systematically. Additionally, I think that the very businesslike like way that this decision was made is also so hard to understand.
After the Wannsee house we went to Potsdam to see Cecilienhof and Sanssouci. Cecilienhof was the house that the Potsdam conference was held in. The Potsdam conference outlined the terms of surrender for Germany, the leaders of the United States, England and Russia decided on terms for the Potsdam Agreement and the Potsdam deceleration. Originally, Cecilienhof was the house of  Crown Prince Wilhelm Hohenzollern and his wife Cecilia. I thought that the house was beautiful and I really liked the design of it. I also thought that the rooms inside were preserved very well and that helped to connect the pictures and exhibits to the rooms themselves. Sanssouci was Fredrick the Great's favorite summer palace. It is considered to be a very small palace because it is only one story tall and had about a dozen rooms total, however it has always been favored by the German monarchs. 

January 18th
Today we went to the Jewish museum, it was focused on Jewish history and culture throughout time, there were also special Holocaust exhibits. I really liked this museum because it covered such a large time span and told a lot about Jewish life in Midevil times up until modern times. I enjoyed learning a lot of the cultural history that I had not heard of before and I found it interesting to learn how the Nazi's used very old prejudices to further their own adgendas. After the museum we went to the Fernsehturm TV tower in East Berlin. We went up 203 meters high into the tower and could see almost all of Berlin.

went up into the tower 203 meters high

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