Berlin Day 11 and plans for 12 – Sachsenhausen and Tiergarten

Sorry for not blogging yesterday, after spending at least five hours at the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp memorial (<- link to Wikipedia article) I didn’t feel like doing much of anything. The site is enormous — much bigger than I thought it would be. Dr. Rogers and I walked nearly all of it and read plenty of the history of the place through at least six of its lives.

Originally it was mostly a field with a factory (or was it a brewery?) when the Nazis claimed the no-longer used facility and built an SS training camp around it in 1936. Soon after its creation, they began holding political prisoners and homeless or jobless people which they used to build the camp further. Because it was so close to Berlin and one of the first camps to be created, Sachsenhausen became a model for other concentration camps. Though it was not intended to be an extermination camp (like Auschwitz) nearly 100,000 of the 200,000 prisoners (consisting of Jews, political opponents, conscientious objectors, Russian and British soldiers, and people from every nation taken over by the Nazis) were murdered by the SS or died because of the camp’s horrid conditions.

In 1945 the camp was liberated by the Russian and Polish armies and soon after the war it became the Soviet’s Special Camp No. 7 in which Nazi leaders and people tried under the Soviet Military Tribunal were held, often with the same terrible conditions as under the Nazis. The camp was finally closed in 1950, and in 1956 the East German government established a memorial site there. Today it has grown into both memorial and museum, as we experienced.

Having now seen nearly half a dozen memorials and museums in Berlin Dr. Rogers and I came to the conclusion that Berlin would make a good place to study just museums and museum design and aesthetics. There are obviously many ways to go about displaying historical events and Berlin rivals any world capital (Washington D.C. included) on the variety of its museums. I’ve also noticed a large upswing in tourism this week. I might have mentioned it earlier in a blog, but a lot more nationalities and languages have been easy to find this week. Italian, Spanish, Russian, English (both British and American), Turkish, French, some Asian languages (and obviously German) have all been accounted for. That’s basically all the languages I recognize when I hear them, and obviously even that is limited because I’m not sure which Asian languages I was hearing.

All of that goes to say that the International element of my research is still in play, but it is in question. Neither Dr. Rogers nor I could really assert nor discredit the international elements here, but to prove it in a paper is going to require statistical research and also comparison to cities of similar size or status (e.g. national capitals). This means I’m going to have to find statistics for Berlin and a decent size list of other cities such as D.C., London, Paris, New York, Chicago, L.A., Milan (Italy) etc. That will all have to be sorted out in the next few weeks.

That’s all we did yesterday; we were too tired to go to the Hertha vs. Liverpool game. It’s just as well; the final score was 0:0 (teams can tie in “friendlies” in soccer). Today Dr. Rogers is flying out, or probably already has by now (11:20). I’m going to check out the embassy row and the Tiergarten this afternoon and see what things are like for Obama’s “Fan Mile” for tomorrow. I plan to get there early, though he isn’t speaking until 7. They’ve got some information about the Fan Mile in the paper, so I’m reading up on what’s not allowed into the fan mile and where it starts, etc.

Be seeing you soon!

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