Chris Robinette, Germany, Purdue University, May 25, 2014

At first we went to Fassbender and Rausch which is the worlds largest chocolaterie, and I can definitely speak to its vastness! They had chocolate sculptures of famous Berlin areas such as the Brandenburg gate, the Reichstag, the tv tower, a massive bear and of the church that got bombed during the Second World War, which actually was kept as it was so that it would remind Germans not to create war and to maintain peace. Beyond this they had a massive selection of chocolates and other delicacies. We decided to go up to their cafe to try out their tortes that they have in their display case. Nikki had their new milk chocolate torte, Ashland decided to have their iced kaffee, and I had a mango torte and a cappuccino. Needless to say everything that we had was amazing!

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Afterwards we headed to the Berlin Art Market, which has various artists from around the city who come and show off their works. It was sad that most of the materials could not be taken on a plane as they were too big, but they were great to look at! I ended up buying a sketch of the Brandenburg Gate which was pretty cool, it was only in black in white.

May252014_3We then walked over to the lustgardens once again to get some pictures of the Berliner Dome and the Pergamon. It was a rather interesting time as two younger children were running around the middle of the gardens (through the fountain) naked…it was just awkward, seeing as how everyone else (even their children) were clothed. Moving on from that, as we didnt want to stay too long (shockingly enough) we had to find a pretzel (prioritization right?) We were going to go to the DDR museum, which was dedicated to life in East Germany/Berlin after the Second World War, and during the Cold War under the GDR (German Democratic Republic). However due to time constraints we decided not to get tickets.

May252014_4May252014_5After walking back to hotel we went to the Checkpoint Charlie Museum. I was honestly surprised how much was in this place! It looked small from the outside, however they expanded up into the building they were on. There was so much material that you needed to read. They had translated all of the information panels into four different languages…it was a bit overwhelming. I will admit that it was really interesting! As they went into a bit of detail as to the political times right before the wall was built – I found this cool (but somewhat lacking in many details) as I love to learn about the little intricacies that caused the wall to be built in the first place.

We learned a lot about the various escape methods people used to flee into West Berlin from East Berlin. The main reason behind this? It sounded like that it was simple economics – life was better. Some of the methods included putting luggage together, swimming across the Baltic Sea (more leading eastern Germany to Sweden), using makeshift planes and automobiles to smuggle people out of the east. The most ingenuous one that I found was the cars. People would re-design the engine to be smaller and put a person in the extra spaces.

Also there was a lot of information about political tensions during the Berlin Wall time period, i.e. the Cold War, the formation of NATO, and how various other countries ended up joining that or signing the Warsaw Pact. At this point I was getting pretty tired and couldnt focus long enough to read through the vast amount of information that was displayed. I know that there were many stories about how people escaped across the wall or how they hid in the worst spots possible (like down a sewer) to avoid the GDR (the government of the time) because times were that bad. I cannot deny that I have a new respect for those who went through the Second World War, and quite honestly the hard times after that as well.

This museum had some expansions recently done that had added Regan’s time in office, movements in American for civil rights of African Americans, along with exhibits on Ghandi and world peace. I will admit that at this point I was mentally exhausted and was not able to devote much of my attention to reading this material (as there was just so much!). We breezed through these areas just to get some of the experience and then went towards the end of the museum – where there was just a brief room about the fall of the wall on November 9th, 1989. I would have been more interested in learning about the cause of this (what was going on politically) and the overall feeling of everyone involved.

After all the devastation that has occurred…I am surprised that Germany has made such a quick turn around! Think about it – Germany has only been united for a little under 25 years, and look how quickly has it become one of the more economically sound European governments, and how well everyone is doing in this country. Yet we still have other countries that are still trying to get themselves back on their own two feet.

After the museum we grabbed dinner at the amazing döner kebab place. I just want to take a moment to talk about how amazing these things are! I have never had these kebabs, and they are so delicious! We literally had kebabs pretty much all weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday), and no regrets about this. It was cheap and great food, what more could you ask for?

Being so full we decided to walk over to the Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate for the sunset. We were supposed to go up into the Reichstag however there is apparently a 3 step process that we did not realize and ultimately didnt get tickets. My heart was not broken though as we had such an amazing day already! Plus the Reichstag at sunset was beautiful anyways.

a href=”http://publish.illinois.edu/internationalvetmed/files/2014/05/May252014_6.png”>May252014_6We walked over the Berlin Haupbahnhoff to grab a snack (Le Crobag was the place to go). Funny enough its probably not even that great to Germans, but to us “it is the meal of our desire” – afterwards we decided to walk back towards the hotel and start packing up as it was our last night in Berlin.

May252014_7In the end, Berlin was an experience. Learning so much more about the German side of the was what I was most interested as we do not get that back in the states. Although I have to admit I would have preferred to learn more about the rise of Hitler and what things were like during the war. Regardless I cannot complain as I have learned much and gained a new respect for the world I live in and those who have died for me to be able to live the way I do (and quite honestly we in much of the Western societies)/