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The Reichstag dome as seen from the roof

Touring Reichstag Dome for a Wider View of Berlin

It’s not the kind of sightseeing I usually do, but touring the Reichstag dome was so highly recommended by a friend that I decided to do it anyway. It was also a bit of a relief after all the grim history I’d been learning about at the DDR Museum, the Stasi Museum, the Berlin Wall…

The Stasi Museum Berlin looks like an ordinary office building from the early 1960s.

Stasi Museum Berlin: The Dark Heart of East Germany

At both the DDR Museum and the Palace of Tears, I learned about the kind of everyday surveillance that East Germans endured in Cold War Germany. To find out more, I went to the Stasi Museum as well. The Stasi The word “Stasi” was a nickname for Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, which translates as the Ministry of…

metal faces on the floor of the memory void in the Jewish museum Berlin

The Jewish Museum in Berlin

After my experience at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, I was apprehensive about visiting the Jewish Museum in Berlin. This, I thought, is something they will have to get right. After all, Berlin was Hitler’s capital city, the place where leaders managed the bureaucratic tasks necessary to carry out the genocide he planned. You…

street art at Haus Schwarzenberg, Berlin

Street Art in Berlin with Alternative Berlin Tour

The meeting place for the street art tour by Alternative Berlin Tour was easy for me to find. I looked for the guide at the base of the Berlin Television Tower in front of the Starbucks. I loved the irony of starting an alternative walking tour in front of a Starbucks. Ben from New Zealand, our tour guide…

Getting a visa was no easy task unless you had official business in West Germany or elsewhere in the world.

Berlin’s Palace of Tears

Walking into the Palace of Tears is stepping back in time. The floor tiles, the wall clock, the “modern” design of the building: all hearken back to a 1960s aesthetic in interior design. Standing on East German territory since 1962, the Palace of Tears was an addition to the older Friedrichstraße train station. This station…

souvenirs available to East German tourists when they visited East Bloc countries. The sign explaining them states "Wall units displayed Russian dolls or other products from the series Knicknackery and Dust-gathery until they were finally stowed away in the cellar." DDR Museum, Berlin

A Peek into East Germany at the DDR Museum

In my last post, I wrote about the Berlin Wall as a gash across the city. What brought me to the Berlin Wall Memorial was my visit just the day before to the DDR Museum in Berlin. That museum and its hands-on portrayal of life in the former DDR (called the German Democratic Republic or GDR in…

the view of the restored piece of the Berlin Wall in the Berlin Wall Memorial

The Berlin Wall Memorial Illuminates Berlin’s Divided Past

The consequences of the division of Berlin by the Berlin Wall (1961-1989) are visible all over the city. The Wall was a wide, empty gash through the city, and that gash has, ever since the Wall “fell” in 1989, been repurposed in a variety of ways. In some places, buildings encroach on the space: Potsdamerplatz is a…

a daytime shot of the Monument to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin

The night I arrived in Berlin was full of color and light: the annual Festival of Lights was underway. A light show projected onto the Brandenburg Gate kept the crowds entertained in the cold autumn air. Walking the short distance from the Brandenburg Gate to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe meant, both…

My piece of the Berlin Wall

Here it is: my own little piece of the Berlin Wall. Today is the 25th anniversary of its fall, and it’s all over the news again. I got this piece from a student of mine when I was teaching in California. Her parents had already booked a trip to West Germany, including West Berlin, when…