Summer of Classics 2013: Berlin (part 1)

At the moment I'm away in Berlin with the parents (we were never really into just lying on a beach for a week), and, apart from the unrelenting hot weather, I'm having a great time.  Although my degree is focused on ancient Greece and Rome, I'm interested in any and every kind of history. This means that Berlin, with its fascinating past, is the perfect place to visit.  So far we've done a bit of exploring around the city, stopping by the iconic Brandenburg Gate, the bunker occupied by Hitler in the final stages of WW2 (now a rather uninteresting car park),  remnants of the Berlin wall and the Holocaust memorial. Having studied Nazi Germany during GCSE History, and the Cold War as part of an International Relations course for A level, it was great to see the sources I had studied up close and in the flesh.
I found the Holocaust memorial, made up of 2711 concrete slabs, to be very powerful,  since the subtly varying heights of the slabs meant that, all of a sudden, you could find yourself feeling rather small and overwhelmed in comparison to the structure around you, which must have reflected the feelings of citizens during the 1930's.
I didn't really know what to expect when visiting remnants of the Berlin wall.  It had played such a significant role in the tense relations between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War period, that despite seeing images in textbooks, I had always imagined a much larger structure than that which I saw for myself.   Perhaps the wall as a physical entity was not as important as the strong ideological differences between Eastern and Western powers, differences which acted as an invisible division across Europe.
In addition to visiting these tourist spots, we visited, and made plans to visit, several museums (you'll soon realise that I LOVE visiting museums, and I'm not afraid to admit it).  These visits have already given me LOTS of ideas, and have enriched my knowledge of cultures and areas I haven't been able to focus on directly in my studies.


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