As I figured yesterday, Dr. Rogers and I met up at the famous Checkpoint Charlie this morning to see the site that served as a main crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. We went through the museum, which was very nice considering that it is a private collection though a bit expensive. The student price alone was 7.5 Euros, which is roughly 10 USD. It took us about two hours to read and view information about the Cold War and the Wall (its construction, those who tried to escape, those who helped, how people escaped, etc.) and some of the original artifacts (cars with hidden storage, two small helicopters, a hot air balloon) used to escape. The information signs were amazingly in German, English, French, and Russian all the way through the exhibit, and many of the signs looked like they had been around since the late 1960s when a private investor and some college students began the collection.
As seen in great detail at the Wall museum as well as subtly throughout the city at different museums, monuments and former Communist sites, it has been amazing to see and study how desperately the DDR tried to keep its citizens inside its borders. The cruelty and inhumanity with which the DDR used to keep a grip on its people is only surpassed in magnitude by the great ingenuity with which people tried to escape. These people weren’t necessarily those under heavy scrutinization by the Stasi (Communist state security) but rather mothers or children or fiances or normal college students who wanted to be reunited with their family and build a life with better opportunities. Not many of them went on to what we would consider great fame; aside from being listed in newspaper archives, books, and this museum, most went on to live quiet lives as doctors, teachers, human rights activists, etc. There was actually one student who helped with the escapes who went on to become a West German Astronaut, but that’s all that I know of.
After the museum we escaped from Checkpoint Charlie (tourist central!) and got a drink around lunch while deciding what to do. We didn’t really want to do any more museums after all we’ve covered in the last few days, so we opted for the zoo instead. It was a good, fun choice. We ended the day with lots of animal photos and really tired feet. My feet have actually been so sore that they haven’t even been fully recovering over night.(Germany’s sidewalks and cobblestone walkways just aren’t very forgiving.) We stopped in a shoe store off of Ku’damm and I bought some expensive (read: 20 Euros) gel shoe insoles to hopefully solve my foot woes.
After that we headed to a fish place on Ku’damm for supper, but I wasn’t in the mood for fish so I opted again for an awesome pasta. Dr. Rogers made the mistake of ordering some fish that wasn’t cooked, but rather at room temperature which he didn’t enjoy. Oops…He said he should have known better.
Anyway, after we ate we figured out how to meet up in the morning: we’re going to see the Sachsenhausen concentration camp site/museum in the morning and might go to the Bundestag (free English tours on Tuesday) or the Hertha BSC vs. Liverpool soccer match in the afternoon.
I’ve pretty much given up hope on getting my photos uploaded in a timely manner. Look for them toward the end of this week and when I get home.