Berlin, baby!

Berlin is growing on me more and more. It’s hip, it’s historical, it’s easy to get around, and it’s pretty. There’s a surprising amount of wide open spaces and green parks right in the middle of the city.

We went on a free tour and learned the tragic and tough history the city’s been through. From Prussian wars to Hitler’s headquarters, communism’s Wall (the Wall is below to the left)
to finally Reunification, Berlin’s been absolutely rocked, and the fact that it’s overcome its history is inspiring to me.
You can still take a spin in a Communist car. They’re tiny, made of plastic or aluminum or something, and you had to wait five years to get one back in the day.

Berlin cathedral

Walking through the famed memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe.

Where the pacifist, Jewish-authored, etc book burning took place. Heinrich Heine, a German poet whose works were set to lieder, famously said that when books are burned, people will shortly follow… it turned out to be a prophecy. This was the most moving point for me of the tour, because now only books can be sold on this street, and on the day of the historical book burning, they give out free books. The right to have access to read whatever you want is an important right. I believe book banning is a sin, and literacy a key to compassion…

A mural showing how people would love communism…
A photograph of a stampede of people protesting the actual effects of communism

We went to a parade called Christopher’s Street Parade, and it’s held every year on the same weekend that the riots in New York took place that I guess Obama referenced when he spoke to gays, transgender etc at a speech recently. I’d post pictures of the event but they’d all be pornographic. Jacob and I walked away with a slightly stronger opinion on how we feel about the gay issue. This is where the absolutely massive, throbbing crowd was headed, the Siegsaule:

The issue is that of granting gay people rights to marry and other legal advantages. Had this parade been families, loving couples holding hands, or peaceful protesters, I would have felt inclined to be supportive. Perhaps this is how some pro-gay rallies are. But this parade was the most flamboyant, ridiculous, perversion-promoting event I’ve ever seen. I was slightly disappointed, because I have attended a gay wedding before, and felt it was quite tasteful, if…unusual.

I guess my point is, I believe everyone has the right to do what they wish so long as their decisions don’t infringe on others. Freedom is in fact a marvelous thing, and I’m not the kind of person to say, “Look at how the times are. The old days used to be so much better, the world is getting progressively worse.” People have been saying that since the beginning of time. In actuality, I believe that we are improving in many ways. To see something like this in Berlin of all places, when only decades ago, homosexuals were being persecuted and even killed, is a marvelous improvement. There’s still too much hush hush I think in some very conservative circles, so people have to suffer in shame silently.

But I do worry about the state of the family. I worry about children growing up in homes with two fathers and no mother or vice versa. Obviously the ideal, a mother and a father, is difficult to reach in many cases, but this doesn’t mean that legally we should support the destruction of the environment in which it is best to raise a child. I know someone who has SSA who is happily married to the opposite gender, and while that can’t be the solution for everyone, I think that that ultimately is something to work towards.

If you had gone to this parade, you probably would have felt the same–these people want to do what they want, when they want, sexually and to be respected for it. That’s really what it was all about–sex, not love. I guess I just have to hope that’s not actually the underlying current of the majority of the gay rights movement. I left this parade thinking that most of these people were very confused with their identity, and that dressed as they were, not one of them could proudly look me in the eyes.
We’re eating all kinds of exotic foods here. There’s every kind of restaurant you can imagine. But always, Thai is our fave :)

Kaimug Thai Restaurant and Red Curry
We visited Sachsenhausen, the first concentration camp of Prussia. It’s an hour train ride from central Berlin. I’d been to Matthausen in Austria before, but this was Jacob’s first experience. What is there to say about the Holocaust, the blackest years in modern-day history? I never tire of learning of this subject, for one reason: to see how heroic people acted in the worst possible circumstances and to hope that I would do the same.Resistance fighters.

“Work will make you free” the false hope given to the concentration camp members on the sign entering the camp.

Community toilets. People were drowned sometimes by the SS police in them.

Propoganda: Jews are subhuman.The man who wrote this famous poem and claimed his Church should issue a public apology for not taking more steps to halt the Holocaust was a prisoner in Sachsenhausen.

The kitchen stove remains

We went to see the Tales of Hoffman, Offenbach’s opera. The singing was incredible–but a great disappointment was there were no subtitles or even a summary, so we had no idea what was going on! Also, the choreography for the Barcarolle, the beautiful song found in Life is Beautiful, was very bizarre…

The big guy’s first time to the real opera…

A moat outside a fortress
The famous bust of Queen Nefetiri
Berlin has the most variety of graffiti of any city I’ve seen.

Still waiting for visitors to our little apartment. Here’s the eclectic kitchen.

Kalli Hiller

Article by Kalli Hiller

Kalli Hiller is a voluntary vagabond who, with her husband Jacob, has traveled full time for the last eight years.

Kalli has written 371 awesome articles for us.

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