History - World War II, Berlin
I came out to this area after watching a BBC TV program by Matt Frei about Berlin. I wanted to see the SS Housing that had been talked about in the program. As to be expected there are no signposts but the houses can be found off Quermatenweg. They were built between 1938 and 1940 for SS officers and their families. It was there idea of a residential paradise with the beautiful Krumme Lanke close by. They have been preserved as they were originally built, so no PVC windows & doors, but they do have shutters and window boxes and they can be described as Hansel and Gretel houses. The houses are now popular with artists and academics in this des res area. The houses would now be considered basic compared to the other huge houses and apartments in the area. The whole area is worth a visit just to see how the other half live in this very upmarket area. If you are using public transport try and return via Mexikoplatz where you can partake of a coffee and some cake in this beautiful square with its fountains and gardens.
In Berlin there are 3 large Soviet War Memorials that were erected soon after the end of WW2. The most well known is probably the one in the Tiergarten Park, which is close to the Reichstag. As the battle for Berlin was costly in terms of lives there are other smaller memorials scattered about the former East Germany. One of these memorials is in the Buch Schloss Park. Soldiers that had died during the battle for Berlin were buried here after the battle. The memorial was constructed in 1947/8 and the soldiers were reburied in larger cemeteries in Berlin. The memorial stands on the edge of the Schloss Park which originally had a castle and orangery, which was used by the mayors of Berlin as a summer house. This did not fit in with Soviet ideals and they were demolished in the 50s and 60s. Take the S2 to Bernau. Outside the railway station turn right along Wiltbergstrasse. The memorial is about 5 minutes walk away on the opposite side of the road.
During my last trip to Berlin I decided to find a house where Maria von Maltzan lived during WWII. The present residents of the house at 11 Detmolder Strasse didn't want the commemorative plaque to be put on their building, so it was placed in front of it.
Maria von Maltzan was a fascinating person, life-long rebel and heroine, whose life was depicted in the film "Forbidden". I haven't seen the film but read her autobiography "Beat the drums and don't be afraid". Her story was even more interesting for me, as she was born in Militsch, a place just a couple kilometres from my home-town Wroclaw. (Before WWII it belonged to Germany, but then it was handed over to Poland together with other territories.)
Maria was born in 1909 in an aristocratic family as the youngest of seven children. She had a happy chidhood, although her mother didn't give her much affection. She was very attached to her father who died when she was just 12. She quickly had to learn how to be independent. She managed to achieve her goal and became a vet. During WWII she hid a number of Jewish people in her Berlin house, including her lover and future husband Hans Hirschel. Their baby died shortly after premature birth, when the power supply to the incubator was cut off. After the war it turned out that Maria and Hans weren't intended to be together. Maria was in poor health and dependent on drugs. However, she still worked as a vet. In 1975 she opened her own clinic in Kreuzberg and soon became very popular with locals. She often treated their pets free of charge. She died in Berlin in 1997.
Outside Philharmonic Hall in the Tiergarten Kulturforum I spotted a strange monument: a full-size bus made of grey cement, cut in its middle. There were some flower bouquets nearby, and a board which explained the mystery: This place has a terrible and chilling history from the Nazi period.
This was the headquarters of the Euthanasia Act, which planned and executed the systematic murder of 200,000 mentally ill patients and other invalids during the years 1940-1941. This act was named "T4", after the address "Tiergarten 4", location of the headquarters for this "special agency", and this is where I was standing now.
Actually, there is a modern bus stop ("Philharmonic Hall") at the exact same spot!
In the photo you can see Philharmonic Hall in the background.
Although it's "off the beaten track", visiting this monument is a powerful experience, and reflecting on these horrors will help ensure that they will never be perpetrated again, anywhere in the world.
On Levetzowstrasse no. 7, not far from the Tiergarten and the Spree, near a synagogue which does not exist any more, is the site where Jews were first loaded into cattle train-wagons and transported to concentration camps in the east.
The monument consists of a wagon loaded with human stone figures, a memorial wall with the details of all transports, and memorial plaques to the synagogues set on fire on Crystal Night.
The wagon monumet very vividly evokes those sad memories.
Many S-Bahn train pass through the Grunewald Bahnhof all the time (on the way to Potsdam, for example).
Not many passengers know that during World War II platform 17 of the Grunewald station used to be the place where Jews were herded into cattle transport wagons and were sent away to concentration camps in the east, to be murdered there.
Nowadays Gleis 17 (Platform 17) is a memorial to those tetrrible events.
As you walk along the platform you see the dates and destinations of all the transports that left this platform during the Holocaust, with the number of people transported to their death: "... 28.9.1943 74 Juden Berlin - Auschwitz; 14.10.1943 74 Juden Berlin - Auschwitz"... The tragedy is divided into small parcels...
It only takes a minute to get off the train and go to platoform 17 (look for the sign: Gleis 17), but it is a powerful experience.
After the WW II, for a respect of existence, there are yellow metal plates , hammered to the ground. Those metal plates are in front of the houses on which Hebrews lived in and taken away to the concentration camps. You can see those people s name, birth date, date of death and name of the camp..
sad but a kind respect to keep the memory alive.
please watch your step
this was a really interesting museum. the entrance way is hidden so you have to look for a ramp at the other end of the monument from the main road.
the signage is all in english and german - my colleague (spanish) had to pay for a headset and said she was bored by the end - it takes longer to listen to everything than just read the walls. headsets are not available in english or german.
you get searched like at the airport when you get in and have to walk through an exray. all bags must be xrayed too.
good information and stuff - but i feel that the holocaust exhibition in london´s imperial war museum was more informative - maybe they should ship some of london´s displays over?
the monument is really cool- but you can find postcards of it all over berlin with people and children climbing all over it. you can´t actually clim on it as the guards will ask you to get down.
it´s really hard to take pictures of it anyway - as it´s so big - so you´d probably be better buying a postcard.
the gift shop/ book shop is really well stocked and if you want to study a subject related to the second world war or the holocaust - then you´ll probably find a book about it here.
this is really good. i went in the summer (not sure if it would be so hot in the winter as berlin gets pretty cold). and its all open air.
it looks a bit weird at first as all you see are boards and stuff and a pathway running round the garden. you pick up your headphones - which are entirely FREE and you can listen in various languages.
theres spanish, english and german (not sure if their are other languages - but probably - the danish girl with me had to listen in english).
really interested and a bit of an insight to the goings on in germany before the second world war.
Just the other day I watched a report on old remains of bunkers and tunnels in Berlin. The exploration of these forgotten buildings is done by well equiped and skilled members of an association called "Berliner-Unterwelten eV". Three bunkers are open to public an can be toured. I hat the opportunity to do it and it was quite scarry and fascinating at the same time. For opening hours and prices see the site below. Try it! Its worth while.
The exhibit » blind trust - hidden at the Hackesche Höfe « tells the history of the blind person's workshop Otto Weidt. Here worked during the Nazi era primarily blind and deaf Jews. In the guidance the uncompromising application is picked out as a central theme by Otto Weidt for his Jewish workers. He offered to the family horn in a Hinterraum of the workshop a hiding place. The rooms are received to a great extent in the original and offer to visitors by the authenticity of this place special possibilities to get to know the history of the blind person's workshop.
This is an amazing thing to see... a must see for anyone interested in history and the Holocaust. The site is the deportation train platform, the infamous Track 17 of Grunewald Station, a former freight depot where more than 50,000 Berlin Jews were loaded on deportation trains during World War II. This is a hidden jem of a site, and it is quiet and seldom visited. Great for a photography spot and place of reflection.
If you do the Berlin Walks Tour, they will take you to a car park. You'll probably be thinking, now why are we here? Well, it's the site of where Hitler's Bunker was. There's no marker to show you, or anything on the map, because they don't want people flocking to it. I think it's good that they don't have anything to mark it, because such a vicious man doesn't deserve it. However, it was interesting to know that I stood right above where he shot and killed himself.
Berlin was somewhat preserved in its state during the Soviet area, clearly mostly in the East.
If you look carefully, you can still see bullet holes and shrapnel marks on the walls, just the same way as you can see remnants of adjoining buildings on some walls...
We must never forget the horrors of The Second World War and its consequences. While in Berlin, you can visit the old Gestapo headquarters and go to this wall to contemplate the rise of The Third Reich and its athrocious results.