Europe

Historic Berlin: Ich bin ein Berliner

Bradenburg Gate
Checkpoint Charlie

Checkpoint Charlie

Travel to Berlin was a dream to me. I don’t know why inside of me I have this will to discover Germany’s mysteries, but I do. It is very hard to describe this city. I wanted this text to show, with humble words, the sensation of being in a great metropolis, which was, and continues to be, very important to the world. As I do like a good challenge though, I will try to put in here my impressions about Berlin.

Berlin is everything that I imagined: it is a city that has a lot of scars from the past and that also has a futuristic feel. Even now we hear people say “West Berlin” and “East Berlin”, marks which were left by an unfortunate wall and, I’m sure, which will never be forgotten. From what I felt  while there, the Germans don’t want to forget what happened in the past. These facts will serve as lessons for the future and such actions shall never be forgotten. I admire the mentality of the German people that face problems with maturity and have a great will to surpass their own boundaries. These are clearly generalizations, but, in my opinion, they do define the Germans.

Bundestag

Bundestag

There is no way of writing about Berlin without mentioning the history that ran through its concrete veins. And it is through the ancient buildings, like the Charlottenburg Schloss, the Museuminsel complex and the Bundestag that we realize the power of the city. While the first buildings represent the finest in terms of architecture, the latter is a symbol of Hitler’s fall which was invaded by the Russians who wrote dates, names and freedom sentences all over the Bundestag’s walls. These scars transport us to a paradoxical past: in some buildings one can admire the once great German Empire, Goethe’s literature and Bach’s songs and, on the other hand, others can see the sad Second World War episode.

The Berlin wall is still there. Some construction firms want to tear it down. The Berliners, however, want it to stay up. It is there, at the edge of the Spree river in front of the main train station (Hauptbanhof). Some appreciate it, others don’t. I think it is cool: in Berlin everything is atypical and the street art developed on the wall bring a revolutionary feel from the citizens to the historic happenings.

Berlin Wall

Berlin Wall

There are many great, imposing, and modern buildings right there at Potsdamer Platz. Department stores of all kinds that offer something different in each floor are also very common and are present in several places in Berlin. KaDeWe (Kaufthaus des Westens) is the most beautiful and most famous of them all. It was built in 1905, by Adolf Jandorf, and in 1933, during the National Socialist era, a banking group demanded that the owner, a Jewish man, was substituted by someone Aryan. In 1943, KaDeWe was partially bombed due to the fall of an American plane but in the end everything turned out okay. In November 1989, with the fall of the Berlin wall, the store broke records in sales. If only the Nazis knew…

Ich liebe Berlin

Ich liebe Berlin

KaDeWe’s history represents the path of many Berliners. They suffered in a dictator’s hand but in the end surpassed all their boundaries. It is great to see the Berlin of the future, recovered, under the motto “Land der Ideen”, represented, for instance, by the Bauhaus style. It is in the scars carved into its DNA, in its efficiency, in its modernity and in its history that make Berlin a unique and wonderful city to visit–and, definitely, live in–one day. I’m Brazilian, so my heart is in São Paulo but my soul is in Berlin. That’s why, just as John F. Kennedy once said: Ich bin ein Berliner(in).

Das ist ein kleinen Tribut für meinen lieblings Stadt in der Welt. Ich liebe Berlin.

Patricia Galves Derolle
Local organizer, São Paulo
Patricia is a post-graduate student of International Relations who was born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil. Her first overseas experience was a solo trip, in 2007, to Europe, where she took an internship in Brussels, and traveled all around for 45 days. Since then, she’s been around the world!

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