Yesterday was our third day in Berlin. After having a wonderful tour and a briefing inside the German Parliament in the morning, we headed out for lunch. Our wonderful tour guide, Stevie, showed us many historical sites on the way. One of them was the Holocaust Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, which was dedicated to six million Jewish victims of the Nazi genocide during World War II. This special memorial is located near the famous Brandenburg Gate to remind people of one of the saddest moments in German history.
The Holocaust Memorial consists of 2711 rectangular blocks, and it was designed by architect Peter Eisenman. It is fascinating to see that the Memorial could be approached and walked through from all directions. Below it is a small section where Hitler’s bunker is buried. We did not have time to visit the bunker because everyone was so hungry after the site visit at the German Parliament. However, since this is once-in-a-life time opportunity to learn more about German history, my friends and I would like to come back here on our free day.
Being able to see the Memorial in person made me feel emotional. The holocaust has been always an unforgettable part not only in German history but also the world history. To me, this particular moment has made people to think about fundamental human rights. The right to life cannot be denied, and universal human rights should never be taken for granted.
After the Holocaust Memorial visit, we headed out to get a “currywurst” for lunch in a restaurant nearby. I had an interesting discussion with Dr. Birchfield about the site visit at the German Parliament in the morning. Most of us fell lucky to have such an amazing tour guide and a thorough tour inside the Parliament. We had a chance to visit not only different parts of the building but also many artistic works serving different political ideologies. Dr. Birchfield and Dr. Fabry said that the tour visit this year was significantly more broad than previous ones.
After a wonderful lunch, we continued our adventure to the German History Museum. I was astonished by the huge amount of information that the museum has to offer. With more than 500,000 objects from technical instruments, fashion, costumes, furniture, military weapons, to photo albums, newspaper, etc., the museum literally covers the entire German history from the beginning to the end of Nazi regime in 1945. I was more interested in the Nazi regime, so I went directly to the exhibition grounds where they are dedicated to modern history. It was absolutely captivating to see one of the darkest moment in German history as the Nazi gained control over the entire country. The exhibition depicts the political situation as well as the environment in Germany in that period and how Nazi step-by-step obtains power. One interesting fact that got my full attention was how the National Socialists proceeded from the Social Darwinist vision of a natural struggle for existence between people and races and later came up with the idea of the superiority of the Aryan race. This idea eventually led to one of the most brutal genocides of Jews, known as the Holocaust.
This is my last blog of the semester, so I want to say that I couldn’t be more thankful to be a part of this wonderful study abroad program. It has opened a door of opportunities for me to learn more about Europe. I have had a great time, so thank you!