Thursday, 29 July 2010

On track again (adventures in Germany continued ...)

In the morning light of the next day we saw our hostel in Berlin in Prenzlauer Berg which was still dominated by the Alexander Square Tower, an iconic symbol in the former East Berlin. Now the Wall has gone, it is often difficult to know which side you are in. A clear difference is still in public transport, then as now, trams in the East and buses in the West.

Again, we had not been in Berlin for many years; in 1982 in the then DDR. Memories and objects from that repressive era and way of life have rightly been consigned to a museum as history. We visited that on our tour round the now reunified Berlin. The route of the wall can be followed by parallel lines of dark stones set into the pavements. The Red Town Hall is still red as the city administration is a coalition of Social Democrats and former Eastern Socialists. Some interesting political demolitions and reconstructions have taken place over the past century.

The Reichstag, called uncharitably but not without some reason by Kaiser Wilhelm, 'that Monkey-House' is now back in use and restored as the Parliament of the Federal Republic, after being burned down in 1933 by the Nazis and lying empty until reunification. The Town Palace of the Hohenzollen Emperors was demolished as a symbol of German imperialism and militarism by the East German authorities after WW2, though it always amused me that they failed to see the irony of having a regular changing of the guard by a goosestepping Prussian regiment at the monument to Victims of Fascism and German Militarism. Nonetheless, the Berliners have a great sense of humour and enjoy puncturing pomposity. They have a series of alternative names for modern buildings, statues and works of art. This is worth a blog in itself! It was replaced by a copper glassed concrete monstrosity called the Palace of the Republic. AKA: Eric's Light Shop because of the expensive and numerous and tasteless modern chandeliers that hung there there. This in turn has been demolished by the new Federal Authorities and it is suggested that the old Imperial Palace be reconstructed.

In the evening we had supper in the now fully restored Nicolai Quarter opposite the Church where Paul Gerhardt was pastor. We had 'Now thank we all our God' as one of our wedding hymns. The next morning we set off for Prague from another new steel glass and concrete ediface, the New Central Station.

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