Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin

We just took¬†a quick trip to Berlin. It’s an hour away by plane.

Berlin is a tough place to be.
But there are several worthwhile sites to see.¬†There’s an astoundingly moving memorial by American architect Peter Eisenman,¬†Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. I’ve never seen anything like it. You can google it. In the nearby park,¬†there’s a memorial to the homosexuals killed in the holocaust, very thought-provoking. Then there’s Checkpoint Charlie, the Brandenburg Gate, remnants of the wall, and Nazi sites that have been razed so no one can memorialize them.
Berlin is a tough place to be.
Hands down, there is history in this city. But most of it is shallow, or filled with past hate, and often decorated with existing blame.
Our first encounter of shallowness and blame came with with the walking tour guide. He offered much in the history of Berlin’s sites. But he couldn’t hold¬†his posture as a guide merely sharing knowledge. At¬†Eisenman’s¬†Memorial, he answered a question about the cost of¬†the sculpture garden. He offered us only the hint of a sneer when he explained¬†it cost twelve million dollars and was paid for by the people of¬†Germany from taxes. Let me mention here, if our guide named Alex is correct, that’s about two dollars for each Jewish person Nazi Germany murdered in the home, murdered at a mass grave, raped & murdered, slashed & murdered, sent to one of 20,000 (not a typo) concentration camps & murdered, and so on. Two dollars. Our guide is a very young man; it is unlikely his taxes paid for any remembrance.
When our guide spoke of Hitler’s¬†“Reichstag Fire decree” which was the key document¬†used to¬†imprison anyone opposed to Hitler and his¬†Nazi dictatorship, he compared that to the United State’s present day treatment of Snowden,¬†one man who leaked thousands of highly classified documents. Fuck you, Alex the guide. We exited¬†the tour early, after he added a casual slam to big businesses like Starbucks, his only example, of course, an¬†American icon.
I know this guide does not represent the German people. I wouldn’t generalize hatred to a whole race or nation based on one young man’s mouth. That would be absurd. And besides, a macchiato at Starbucks sounded nice.
My unasked for advice? Skip Berlin. It’s a tough place to be – you might want to punch someone in the face.