The Brandenburg Gate is one of Berlin’s most important monuments as well as being a symbol of the city. Napoleon was so impressed with it that when he conquered Berlin he had it shipped in crates to Paris. It was returned and restored as the impressive entry point to Berlin.
The Soviet War Memorial Tiergarten is one of several war memorials in Berlin, capital city of Germany, erected by the Soviet Union to commemorate its war dead. I didn’t know that of the 50 million people killed in World War II, approximately half were Soviet citizens. Or that the final battle on the European front of the war, the Battle of Berlin, was the Russians vs. the Germans and that the Americans and British were still a long way away from Berlin.
So, if you know a little about that battle, you’ll know that the Germans defended their capital ferociously, and that about 22,000 Red Army soldiers were killed just in the final push to take the city. More than 80,000 Red Army soldiers were killed all together in the final battles of the last month of the war. Seven thousand of those Soviet soldiers are buried in this expansive, somber site.
I heard that Germany’s parliament building, or Reichstag, is a must-see attraction in Berlin. Unfortunately we didn’t go inside but it’s a reason to go back. Not only is it a beautiful building that ties the old with the new but it has a wonderful motto, “To the German People,” it’s symbolic of German democracy.
The Berlin Cathedral is a Protestant church. Built from 1894 to 1905 by order of German Emperor William I. It was built in a style similar to the high-renaissance baroque architecture of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome.
Below the cathedral there is over ninety sarcophagi and tombs are on display including those of the Prussian Kings.
We had to drive by Checkpoint Charlie. It really is just for tourist. In 1961, the East German government constructed a wall along its borders to restrict the flow of East Germans. Several checkpoints were erected. Checkpoint Charlie was the most well-known of the three because it was the only checkpoint through which diplomatic personnel, American military and non-German visitors could pass into East Berlin. Sgt. Harper and his Soviet counterpart on the other side have become as synonymous with the checkpoint as anything else in Cold War lore. But Harper wasn’t exactly the stereotypical Cold Warrior. He was a U.S. Army tuba player with the 298th Army Band in Berlin from 89-94 and never pulled guard duty at the checkpoint.
My favorite sight in Berlin was the Kaiser Wilheim Memorial Church. The original church was severely damaged in World War II. Rather than remove the ruins to make room for a new church, they were preserved and incorporated into the design of the building that replaced it. You wander through the church with bombed out walls and stairs that go nowhere. It also has beautiful mosaics. Berlin has a lot to offer and it’s definitely a city I would like to return to.