To say arriving back to the ESC from Italy with only 8 hours to unpack, do laundry, and pack again and then leave for Berlin at 4am was hectic is an understatement. However, running around has become part of my daily life while studying abroad. After all, how else are you supposed to see all of Europe in just four months?
After arriving in Berlin in the early afternoon, we headed directly to our first tour that would go into detail of the history of the Berlin Wall and even back to World War II. It was very interesting to see that Berlin really does not want to remember either of these impactful pieces of history at all. Checkpoint Charlie, for instance, left a lot to be desired. Typically, most tourists expected to come to the Berlin Wall and feel the hate, fear, and sadness while taking pictures of the ruins. Do not be fooled, much of the Berlin Wall is simply two rows of cobblestone, flush to the pavement, running through the town outlining where the wall used to be. In fact, it was so subliminal that our entire study abroad program walked right across the “Berlin Wall” on the way to our first tour and had not even realized it.
Feeling underwhelmed, our tour moved on to the history and the remains of Hitler’s bunker where the last siege took place before Hitler had committed suicide. Feeling a bit let down again, Hitler’s “bunker” was a corporate parking lot with business men and women weaving through the cars to get back to work after their lunch.
Understandingly so, Berlin was not as photogenic as the cities we have visited thus far. This left me pondering of how a war stricken city with so much history of sorrow had so little to show for it. You would think, considering the Berlin Wall is such a big tourist attraction, the town would invest in recreating bits and pieces of the history for the tourists to take pictures of remembrance. That being said, as we went on, walking over the Berlin Wall that separated loved ones for over 25 years and then right across Hitler’s bunker that housed the killer of eleven million innocent people I began to realize a very important fact about Berlin. The shameful feeling of living in a city with so much divide and war crime still lives on today. It is not that the citizens of Berlin can not remember these terrible times in history. Instead, it is that the citizens of Berlin do not want to remember what horrible things had happened on their very home soil.