September 13, 2013 – We walked a few blocks from our hotel over to the Brandenburg Gate, and then headed to the subway. Louisa might have chosen this time as her chance to hop a train after the warning, doors closing lights went off. She might have left Tony on the platform. Fortunately we met up without difficulty at the next station.
The rest of the subway trip was unremarkable, and took us to within a few blocks of the Museum of Technology. This was covered by the Berlin museum pass which we’d purchased prior to the trip, and was a very interesting and eclectic museum. The space starts off with a display of old computers and computer parts, and then proceeds to discuss wind power, boats, airplanes (including some fighters from WWII), fire bombs (also courtesy of WWII… it was at this point that the toll on the German population started to become brutally apparent), a windmill, a distillery, and an entire building full of train cars and engines. The trains told the history of the German rail system from the days of the Kaiser, through the use of trains as troop transports, and finally to the modern train system today. My favorite was the imperial train; the most sobering was the box car used to transport people to the concentration camps.
After lunch we made our way via an uneventful subway ride back towards the Natural history museum. We stopped at a more touristy section for lunch and ate at Josty im Sony Center. Decent but unremarkable sausages, sauerkraut and beer – small local restaurants NOT in the main tourist areas definitely seem to have better food, although our lunch was still good.
The history museum is undergoing renovations, and is still trying to organize and make the best use of their collection. It seems that the previous government didn’t prioritize museum funding, but the museum is making good progress. The museum building itself is still beautiful (and undergoing renovation). The exhibits are also very nice, we particularly enjoyed the dinosaurs, small solar system exhibit, and the ostriches. Someone definitely has a sense of humor.
We made our way back to Brandenburg and then a block or two away to a large concrete area filled with tall pillars and an undulating wave-like base. You can walk between the pillars, and many people were running around as if playing hide and seek (since you need to peer around corners so as not to hit anyone).
Near the center of this unique area is a staircase, and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. You walk down the stairs, and soon can’t hear anything outside. All conversation drops to whispers as people read the timeline. And conversation stops completely as people begin to read the stories.