Browsing articles tagged with " History"

The Berlin Wall is back!

Berlin, February 2015
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The Berlin Wall is no longer part of the present of the city since November 9th, 1989, when it collapsed, quinte unexpectedly actually. Only the “East Side Gallery”, its longest section (1.3 km or 0.80 miles), as well as some much smaller ones, remind of the physical partition of Berlin, which lasted over 28 years. Whatever that 155 km-long Wall transmitted is not longer to be perceived… or maybe it is, actually it is.

“Asisi Panorama” is very close to Checkpoint Charlie, one of the hot spots during the Cold War. The spectacular staging shows a view of Berlin as seen from its western part while the Wall stood there. An impressive 60 meter long and 15 m. high image, an elevated platform (4 m.), the proper illumination, … the spectator is granted a unique opportunity to experience an everyday autumn scene of the 80’s – the western neighbourhood of Kreuzberg on one side, the death strip and East Berlin on the other. Graffiti artists, playing children, policemen on the watch towers, … all which could be seen those days from the in the western part of the city existing elevated platforms can also be seen now, 25 years later. The venue also shows a number of photos taken before, during and after the Wall both by Berlin citizens and visitors.

“Asisi Panorama – The Wall” is located on the junction of Friedrichstraße and Zimmerstraße, underground “Kochstraße” (U6). Its creator is the architect and artits Yadegar Asisi, the “father” of other spectacular Panometers in Dresden and Leipzig. In close vicinity stands the Checkpoint Charlie-Museum as well as the so called “Black Box”, an exhibition area devoted to this historical border point.

Links:

Asisi Panorama: www.asisi.de/panoramas/the-wall/bildergalerie.html
Checkpoint Charlie-Museum: www.mauermuseum.de
Black Box: www.visitberlin.de/en/sitio/black-box

Photos Checkpoint Charlie + Black Box: www.flickr.com/search/?tags=checkpointcharlie&sort=relevance&user_id=11873897%40N08

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The Prussia of Frederick II

Berlin, February 2015
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He is one of the members of the Hohenzollern dynasty, who is still very present in the collective imagination of the Germans. Frederick II, “Frederick the Great”… “old Fritz” (1712-1786), different names for a king who -no fear to exaggerate- can be considered as a turning point in the evolution of the German history, without which neither Berlin or Germany can be explained or understand.

His father’s shadow

Frederick William I (1688-1740), a man with a strict character, would mold Fritz’s personality with fire. He imposed him a military education for which the prince showed little interest. On the contrary, what really caught his eye was philosophy, literature and, in general terms, the arts and thinking originated in the refined France. The atittude of the father towards his son, to whom he used to humiliate in public and in private, phychic and physically, would lead him to plot a plan to escape with his best friend -and maybe lover, Hans von Katte. The plan was aborted and the king had von Katte beheaded, obliging his son to witness the execution. The prince himself, who was 18 at the time, was about to be executed on that day.

Frederick II would be crowned at the death of this father. Through his 46 years of reign, he combined his military skills with his passion for arts and science; at the Sanssouci Palace, in Potsdam, crucial figures like Voltaire, La Mettrie and Maupertuis used to share with the king evenings of discussions about the deepest topics. Frederick’s most outstanding feature, without a doubt, is he brought the Enlightenment in his territories. Somehow, the clash between he and his father was a reflex of the collision between the absolute monarchy incarnated by Frederick William I and the open window to a new era, that Frederick II represented.

If you would like to learn more about this fascinating character, do not miss this great documentary! Click here.

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Memorials to never forget

Berlin, 24 March 2014
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Despite the many years since the end of the WWII, Germany is nowadays still honouring the victims of the nazi savagery. Tens of monuments, commemorative plaques and esculptures all over the country recall the horror spread by the National Socialists within and outside the German borders. The millions of murdered by the nazis, mainly jews, gypsies, homosexuals and political opponents, are part of the collective memory of this society.

Squared Stolpersteine cover some portions of pavement in cities and villages all over the country, and beyond. The birth of the Stolpersteine, currently over 35.000 pieces in Germany, Poland, Austria and the Netherlands amongst others, goes back to the first years of the decade of 1990; a very simple element with which the artist, Gunter Demnig, wanted to give their names back to those who were once treated as simple numbers. The initiative was controversial from the very beginning, but the project is nonetheless moving forward and the Stolpersteine are planned to be set even beyond the borders of Europe.

The big memorials in the German capital city

In Berlin, three big memorials deserve a space in this chapter, all of them being located near the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag, the federal Parliament. In 2005, the Memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe was opened. The visitors are invited to walk deep into a surface covered with 2.711 columns of concrete forming narrow, long alleys, and feel the anguish. One of the most controversial episodes around the construction of the memorial takes us to the economic capital city of Germany, Frankfurt, where the headquarters of Degussa are. Back in 2003, this company was to produce the substance that would protect the surface of the columns; it was then known that a subsidiary company of Degussa had produced the Zyklon B gas used to poison people in the gas chambers.

On the other hand, the Memorial to homosexuals persecuted under nazism was opened in May 2008. It is a concrete-made cuboid, which interior can be accessed only visually, through a small window. Thus, a film can be seen showing some same-sex couples in loving attitude, a call to tolerance and respect for diversity.

Finally, the Memorial to the Sinti and Roma of Europe, murdered under the National Socialist Regime, was opened back in October 2012. The Federal Government had already decided, in 1992, the construction of such a hommage for this community. Nonetheless, certain disagreements between politicians and the representatives of the gypsies living in Germany blocked the project for many years. The memorial is located on the north-east end of the Tiergarten.

Without a doubt, these three memorials deserve to be visited and known. Here you can see some pictures of them: http://www.flickr.com/photos/itineri/tags/memorials/

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November 9th: history though a date

Berlin, November 9, 2013
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That Wall, aparently unshakeable until short before, cracked unexpectedly in the evening. A process started then, which would end up with the fall of the iron curtain and even the Soviet Union. Prelude of a new world, that day in 1989 was one more on a listing of historic events that, throughout the 20th century, took place in Germany on a 9th of November…

The listing starts at the end of World War I. The conflict was in its death throes when the republic was proclaimed in the German capital city… twice. It was November 9, 1918. At about 2PM, Philipp Scheidemann anounced the end of the Hohenzollern monarchy and the establishment of the republic, from a window at the Reichstag (video). On that same day, Karl Liebknecht proclaimed the “free socialist republic of Germany” in front of a crowd at the Lustgarten. Liebknecht and his wife, Rosa Luxemburg, would be assassinated two months later, Scheidemann would flee to exile after Hitler was appointed chancellor.

Hitler himself would be the “leading actor” of another historic event, which also happened on a November 9, in 1923. The then president of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party led a failed coup d’etat, smashed by the police and the army. Hitler would be sentenced to prison, where he would write “Mein Kampf”. Despite the failure of the coup, it was every time more obvious that many Germans were against the Weimar Republic, which they considered treacherous.

Hitler would finally gain access to the chancellery, in January 1933. Five years later, on November 9, 1938, the nazi paranoia against the jews would climb up one dangerous step: on the Night of Broken Glass (“Kristallnacht”), hundreds of synagogues were attacked, stores destroyed and civilians arrested and killed. Their offense? to be jews in a Germany that the Führer wanted made to measure, whatever the cost.

Then the World War II would come (1939-1945), and the division of the country in two states (1949). The Federal Republic of Germany would experience an spectacular economic growth thanks to its industry, but part of the German society disagreed with the way the country was being administrated. On November 9, 1967, everything was ready at the Hamburg University for an important academic ceremony. From among those present, two students unfolded a banner with the text “Unter den Talaren – Muff von 1000 Jahren“, completely unexpectedly. The students were thus protesting against the elitist structures of the West-German society of the postwar. That motto would become an icon of the student movement of the late sixties and early seventies in Germany.

The facts prove it: a large extent of the current Germany can be explained through some November 9, without any doubt a date for the history.

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The crazy king had a castle built

Berlin, 29 July 2013
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To visit the breathtaking Neuschwanstein castle is a must. Its shape, outlined against the green, ocher or white landscape depending on the season, rises majestically south of Bavaria, close to the Austrian border. A mad king’s dream come true… at least in part.


Quite, Ludwig II of Bavaria lived only 40 years, a short life, narrowly linked to that of the composer Richard Wagner from the very moment when, at the age of 16, the then prince listened to the operas Tannhäuser and Lohengrin for the first time. Ludwig was enthrowned when he was 18, on the same day his father passed away, in 1864. His “particular” character would push him have a castle built, where he could feel protected from the people.

Two episodes of his live as a monarch deserve especial atention: the defeat of Bavaria in the 1866 Austro-Prussian War, after which the reserved character of the king was stressed, distanced from his obligations, and his failed wedding to Princess Sophia of Bavaria, the sister of empress Sissi: after several postponements, the king himself cancelled the ceremony for good.

Neuschwanstein started taking shape in 1869, dominating over the region and built in the image of the medieval castles, only in this case the building included “modernities” such as central heating, tap water and even telephone connexion in parts of the castle. Short after his death, which happened under odd circumstances in 1886, the castle opened doors to the public; from then on, it has been visited by over 60 million people.

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Would you like to see the castle via webcam? (that is, whenever the cam works properly!). Click here.

We recommend you fervently to watch the documentary below, which was produced by the German station ZDF. It explains the life of Ludwig II of Bavaria through the history of Neuschwanstein. English subtitles are available by clicking on <cc>.

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