Berlin Climate Protest March and the Berlin Dom

Day 26, Friday, September 20, 2019

We are going to visit the Berlin Dom today and climb the dome for a view of the city, then head home. An easy day is in order.

However, we wondered what was going on when the metro didn’t stop at the Brandenburg Gate Station. When we got off at the next station this is what we saw…people marching for as far as we could see to protest climate change  Many of the roads downtown are blocked to traffic. We stand and watch for a while…and then decide that we need to take part so we joined the protestors. Here is a short video of us marching.  It was an amazing experience to be part of this march. There are lots of children here.  We think that schools must have closed for the day, as there are many groups of school children marching with banners. There are older people, grandparents with their grandchildren, mothers with babies, families, lots of teenagers and young adults.  It gave me hope that maybe, just maybe people are paying attention to what we are doing to our world.  It was a very emotional experience.The march is going in the opposite direction, away from the Berlin Dom, so we step to the sidewalk and spend the next hour watching the people march by.  Imagine crowds like in the pictures below walking by steadily for more than an hour, and there was still no end in sight.
We think that there has to be more than 100,000 people protesting here, people of all ages, and ethnicities. Here is another short video that gives an idea of the enthusiasm and passion of these protestors.  The protest march continued but we thought we better go do the last bit of our sightseeing in Berlin. The Central Memorial of the Federal Republic of Germany for the Victims of War and Dictatorship below held just one piece of sculpture, Käthe Kollwitz’s famous ‘Mother with Dead Son’, created in 1938. It has quite an impact, all alone in this big stark space.  I discover there is a Käthe Kollwitz museum, but it is not nearby and we have run out of time in Berlin.  Too bad, I love her drawings and would have liked to have seen them. Just across the street we see a very colourful exhibit and head over to find out what it is…7,000 pompoms that form a ‘Wall of Love” installation.

Right across from the pompoms is this absolutely enormous Platane tree.  I think this is the same kind of tree that is on the boulevards by our apartment.  It has a  30 metres spread! Bob wanted to find the plaque in a nearby square where the Nazis burned 25,000 books in 1933. There is also a clear glass panel that looks down below the square onto a room filled with empty bookcases.  The glass was too cloudy to get a photo. Walking toward the Berlin Dom we pass the park we had our picnic lunch a few days ago.  There is no grass, only a packed gravel surface.  The parks in European cities are used by so many people that grass would not survive. Finally we arrive at the Berlin Dom, much later than we had planned. This is a Protestant church that is every bit as ornate as the Catholic Churches we have visited in Europe. The dome above the altar is magnificent.  The Church was hit by a napalm bomb in the Second World War and the dome collapsed into the church. It was open to the elements for many years before it was finally restored to its former glory.This photo shows the bombed Berlin Dom. I had no idea how badly bombed Berlin was before we visited here.  This link shows some pictures of the damage. It must have seemed an impossible task to think of rebuilding such devastation. This is where we are climbing to. The 367 steps were worth it!  Here are some of the views from the dome. We can hear music from way up here. Turns out it is this fellow far below. He is the person on the left side of this bridge with a guitar case on the ground in front of him.  I even zoomed in a bit to take this photo.  It was surprising how clearly we could hear all the words of his song. The park area in front of the Berlin Dom and the Altes Museum. Bob is getting to be quite the photographer. Looking down some of the stairs we climbed.  At least they were good sturdy stairs, unlike some of the rickety belltower ones we have climbed in the past. Part way down there is a small museum with models of the church. The plaster and wooden models used to build the original church were used in the reconstruction of the church after it was bombed. We were way up there walking along the outside of the rectangular windows.  We weren’t sure if the buses were running after the protest march, so we walked back along the river towards the metro station On the way we see this parade of boats. Turns out is is another protest “march” with lots of music and dancing.  Take a look at the back of the boat in the second photo.  We wondered if it was about to sink, it was so low in the water. There were all sorts of spectators watching the boats. There are lots of beautiful big trees in Berlin. Just before we get to the metro we pass a store with hundreds of old sewing machines lining its windows.  Kind of neat reflections too.  It was a much longer day than we expected but I was so glad we got to see and take part, even for a bit, in the Climate March.  When we get home we discover that there were marches like this all around the world!  YAY!!  Finally people are realizing that we need to change the way we live.

 

 

The Reichstag Building Dome, The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and Checkpoint Charlie

Day 19,  Friday, September 13, 2019

Our day starts back at the Brandenburg gate. The gate is a popular gathering point for tourists. This fellow was dressed interestingly, turns out he is Austria’s Mr. Fetish 2019! We walk to the Reichstag Building which houses the German Parliament. We are required to show passports and go through security screening before we are allowed into the building.  After riding an elevator with 30 other people we arrive at the dome. Can you find us in the reflections?Admission to the dome is free, but we needed to register for tickets three days in advance. 6,000 people visit here every day. We walk up a 230 meter ramp and our audioguide provides a lot of interesting information about the dome, the German parliament and what we see outside the dome.
A view of the 368 meter high TV tower we walked by yesterday. It is the tallest tower in the European Union.The greenish domes beside it belong to the Berlin Cathedral, which is Berlin’s largest church. Looking down from the ramp.  The 360 mirrors on this column reflect light down into the parliamentary chambers below the dome. A view of the Sony Building where the giant giraffe was located. The yellow building is the Berlin Philharmonic which is said to have one of the best orchestras in the world. At the top of the dome is a 10 meter diameter opening which provides fresh air.  Rain falls through it into the cone and is recycled. The warmth of the stale air rising in the dome is recovered by this cone and used to heat the building, along with 300 square metres of solar panels. The dome is 40 metres wide and opening at the top is 54 metres off the ground. It is very impressive. The sky is getting very dark outside and the wind has picked up.  I think we might get wet! If you look at the square in front of the lady in black pants in this picture you might be able to make out the members of Parliament sitting below the dome. They look like little whitish spots.

Here is a close up.

This photo of a photo shows what the Parliamentary chamber looks like lit by mirrors in the dome above. You can also see the emblem of the German government on the wall. Interestingly it is an eagle, which is the same as the national emblem of the United States.A view towards the Brandenburg gate and the Jewish Memorial which is the grey area beside the white building. Walking down from the top of the dome, we are on a ramp which is in-between the up ramp.  You can see people walking in different directions, some going up, some going down.
It is cold and wet when we get outside. The inscription reads “The German People” We pass this building under construction. The inside is completely gutted.  A new modern interior will be built but the exterior will be preserved. We see other buildings undergoing this process. We walk to one of the nearby train stations to find a place to eat a late lunch and we are pleasantly surprised to find the sun is shining when we come back outside. The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is a 19,000 square metre site covered with 2,711 grey concrete slabs, or stelae ranging in height from 8″ to 15′. It is situated on part of  the former Berlin Wall Death Strip. There are 54 x 87 rows of these 7′ x 3′ long stelae, and the ground between rows is uneven and undulating.  There is an information centre with displays and a list of names of 3,000,000 of the Jews who were killed in the Holocaust but we did not go inside.  This is a sombre place, but something seems missing. The walls of names of the Holocaust victims that we saw at Auschwitz had a stronger impact on me than this memorial site. Walking towards Checkpoint Charlie we pass some of the many electric scooters that are scattered around the city. People ride these in on sidewalks and in traffic, sometimes two people on a single scooter!  Seems kind of dangerous to me and the busses honk their horns at them all the time! A photo on a street display showing the Berlin Wall and the Death Strip near the Reichstag Building . We stop for a rest at Checkpoint Charlie Beach!  Where Bob tries a very strange hotdog, filled with mashed potato and lettuce. He said it wasn’t very good.
A photo on the street of Checkpoint Charlie during a military standoff with the Soviets in 1961. This checkpoint grew in stature over the years. This photo is from 1989.We come across pieces of the Berlin Wall in several locations along our route today. Checkpoint Charlie from the Soviet side, looking to the American side… and from the American side looking toward the Soviet side. After all the heavy stuff we saw today we have to laugh as this vehicle full of very loud beer drinking young men goes down the street!  It is powered by the peddling of the drinkers onboard. A interesting building on our way to the metro station. This interesting link shows 14 Cold War images and how these locations have changed today. Near home we come across this demonstration against far right extremists. We have seen several of these protests and they are always accompanied by a heavy police presence, no matter how small the rally.  Actually, we found that there is a heavy police presence everywhere is Berlin. This is one of the tiniest cars I have ever seen. it only holds one passenger.