Europe Study Tour 2016 – Day 6

Written by: April Wang (BComm Candidate), Divleen Kang (BComm Candidate), Elizabeth Chu (BComm Candidate)

May 7, 2016

Saturday was a free day and we got a chance to explore Berlin’s museums and memorials in the morning, and then attend an interesting soccer game at 3:30pm. Therefore, April, Divleen and Elizabeth (the bloggers for the day) decided to split up and explore the different cultural and historical sites Berlin has to offer.

April’s Experience

Here is the street view for the way to the museums:

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The street is very clean and not many people are here in the morning because it’s a Saturday.

Museum Island is one the most popular visiting spots. There are many beautiful buildings around.  There is a lot of construction and redecoration going on to maintain Berlin’s charm.

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The first place my group and I visited is the Parish Church called Berlin Cathedral. We were shocked when we entered the church. It was amazing and breathless. You can actually find peace when you’re in this church.

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After climbing a lot of stairs, we finally got to the roof of the church and the climb was worth it! You can see the overview of the whole area of the Museum Island and even further. You can clearly see the TV tower and the Alte Nationalgalerie.

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After Berlin Cathedral, we explored the Altes Museum. Most of the collections are statues which described the ancient Greeks’ daily behaviour. There is also a china and ancient treasures exhibition to display the environment in which the ancient Greeks lived. We now have a deeper understanding of ancient Greek culture.

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Divleen’s Experience

The day started off early with myself and a couple girls leaving the hotel at 9am to reach the Holocaust Memorial before it opened at 10am. We walked around the ground floor, which is always open, and it was really interesting because the floor was slightly askew and the highest stelae (concrete slab) was 8ft high. The pillars are protected by a graffiti-resistant coating because the government worried that neo-Nazis would try to spray paint swastikas on them.

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After walking around that interesting piece of architecture, we went to the basement (the Place of Information) and that was very educational. Initially we thought these horrible hate crimes had only taken place in Germany but that is not the case; it happened all across Europe. The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe honours the 6 million Jews who were annihilated by the National Socialist Regime across Europe. The picture below shows the concentration camps all across Europe.

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After gathering a deeper understanding, we decided to check out the memorials for homosexuals and euthanasia, and Ed the teddy bear accompanied us for that.

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Since we walked to the memorials after taking the subway, we saw some interesting things. On our way to the Holocaust Memorial, we saw the United Buddy Bears, which has around 140 2m tall bear-like statues that represent countries recognized by the UN. It is an art form created to promote living together in peace and harmony. Ed also decided to buddy up with these Buddy Bears.

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While hopping between different memorials, we walked through the Tiergarten and came across the Global Stone Project. Two stones were selected from every continent – one of the two stones remained in the homeland while the other was placed in Berlin. Each monolith symbolizes the five steps towards peace: Awakening (Europe), Hope (Africa), Forgiveness (Asia), Love (America) and Peace (Australia). Schwarzenfeld, the creator of the project, sculpted, polished and inscribed all of the stones and positioned them so that once a year, on the June 21 (Summer Solstice), the light of the sun connects all ten stones by reflection, symbolizing the solidarity between the continents.  I found the black coloured store the most interesting, it came from Africa. The red coloured stone in the left side of this picture represents the Americas and is from Venezuela.

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After the memorials, we decided to walk to a nice lunch spot out on the patio and came across the Soviet War Memorial in Teirgarten.  This memorial is there to commemorate the soldiers that they’ve lost, particularly the 80,000 soldiers of the Soviet Armed Forces who died during the Battle of Berlin in April and May 1945. On the anniversary of VE Day, (May 8th), wreath-laying ceremonies are held at the memorial. It is a site of pilgrimage for war veterans from the countries of the former Soviet Union.

After we had lunch, we saw the Reichstag building from the outside. The inscription above the main entrance says “DEM DEUTSCHEN VOLKE”, meaning “To the German People”. Those letters were cast from melted-down French cannons captured during the Napoleonic wars.

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Finally, we saw the infamous Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate) before heading to the soccer game at the Olympic Stadium. This was around 2pm and it was full of tourists as it was a long weekend. There was police everywhere due to the bombings in Paris and Brussels, and the recent threats to the British Embassy in Berlin.

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Elizabeth’s Experience

Game: Hertha BSC vs SV Darmstadt 98

Most of us got tickets to watch the soccer game in the afternoon. The experience was not just watching the match, but also being a part of the crowd and watching the fans cheer for their teams. Being a part of this allowed us to experience another part of the culture here in Germany. Just being in Berlin for this experience and being immersed in the energy of the crowd, many of us became Berliners as we cheered on the home team.

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