Bogfraus From Bavaria To Berlin
— I began writing this post back in June, but was unable to finish it before our awesome African safari kicked off later that month, followed by a trip back to Australia for personal reasons. Obviously our time in Africa was going to take precedence so I finished those three posts first and then got back to covering this trip. The first day and the morning section of the second day of this post were written in June not long after our return, but everything after that was pieced together in September and October using photos, notes in my phone, and Anna’s memory.
Now that the world is opening up again, Anna’s conferences have resumed and this meant she would be presenting at the Macula Society’s 45th Annual Meeting in Berlin. This would be our first trip to Germany since we spent three months living in Bonn back in 2015 so we wanted to make the most of the opportunity. We got in contact with our friends in Zurich, Switzerland and they arranged to meet up with us for a weekend in Munich, which Anna and I would follow up with two nights in Nuremberg before spending four nights in Berlin for the conference. Here’s how it went down.
Saturday, June 4, 2022
I had only just returned late on the Tuesday night after spending almost two weeks with family in Australia, had slept three nights in my own bed, and then we were off again not long after midnight on Saturday morning, landing in Munich at around 7:00am. Fortunately, by the time we arrived where we would be staying for this first leg, Jams Music Hotel, we were able to check in. This was a cool, music-themed hotel with a giant Prince mural in the lobby and a record player where you could play whatever you want. Our room was on a Queen-themed floor, but we weren’t interested in sleeping, instead just showering after our 12-hour flight and fending off the jet lag by finding a flea market in which to roam around. This landed us at the enormous Munich Olympiapark, wandering aimlessly for what seemed like ages, searching for the flea market that is held in a carpark there most Fridays and Saturdays. The ever-unreliable Google Maps was leading us away from the stadium and we must’ve looked incredibly confused, because a local guy came up to us excitedly to ask if we were looking for the market, telling us we were finally headed in the right direction. Once we were in the correct parking lot we saw that this market was enormous and there was a bit of everything there, just not a whole lot that particularly appealed to us, but we were quite amused when the guy who had pointed us in the correct direction came up to us again later, enthusiastically showing us an obviously fake Gucci wallet he had just bought for €3.00 (US$3.15), claiming he would be able to sell it again for at least €50.00 (US$52.60)
Anyway, here are some shots of our hotel and the market:
The main reason we had decided to come to Munich was that for weeks leading up to this trip we had been arranging with our friends from Switzerland — Tom, Leonie, Judith, and Felix — for them to drive down for a couple of hours and hang out with us. When we were in Switzerland over Christmas and New Year’s, we hadn’t been able to see much of Felix and he is also originally from a town not far from Munich so he, along with the others, were all over this weekend getaway. Tom and Leonie were also bringing an American friend of theirs, Evan, that they met when they were living in Seoul.
Felix and Judith arrived first and, being Bavarian, Felix knows his way around the local food so he met us in a cafe for some sausages, pretzels, and a couple of beers. It was great catching up and chatting with them again, but things got a little weird when it came to eating the boiled, white sausages, because as I started to eat mine like a normal person, Felix informed us that you are supposed to peel these particular sausages, sucking the meat out as you go. We thought he was kidding at first, but nope, these were quite the phallic delicacy.
Tom, Leonie, and Evan were still driving to Munich once we were done eating so we decided to take a look around the Müncher Stadtmuseum:
The scale of this museum is only really evident from the air. The extensive site comprises two spacious interior courtyards that are framed by four unusually diverse buildings. The oldest of these, the historic armory built in 1500, faces St.-Jakobs-Platz. The collections annex, which was designed by Gustav Gsaenger at the end of the 1950s, extends to Rindermarkt; the medieval royal stables – which were reconstructed in 1977 – reach as far as Sebastiansplatz. Both in terms of its physical magnitude and the scope of its collections, it is Germany’s largest municipal museum. The value of its collections is beyond calculation.
Not only is it the largest collection of local pieces, but they also had a fascinating, yet terrifying Nazi exhibition on when we went, Felix translating the propaganda for us. It was all fantastic, however, photos were forbidden in the Nazi display. It was also a very sobering exhibition, the only cure for sobriety is booze, and it turned out that Tom, Leonie, and Evan were now here and waiting for us in a beer garden, Biergarten am Muffatwerk. Perfect. We spent the entire afternoon just sitting around, drinking and chatting, all the while trying to navigate the complicated ordering and payment system that required a combination of coins and tokens so people could get a refund upon returning their steins and not steal them. It was great having Evan around for this first leg of the trip too, because not only is he a nice guy, but for some reason all of the awkward situations I tend to find myself in happened to him now. Case in point: Evan accidentally bumped into a guy in the beer garden and bizarrely he just pulled a Polaroid photo of himself out of his pocket and asked Evan if he thought girls would like it. Odd.
A look at that morning and afternoon:
Later we all headed to a boozy dinner in the beer garden of another establishment, Paulaner am Nockherberg, resplendent with it’s wood carving of a king that looked a lot like Donald Trump. It was here where we coined the term ‘Bogfrau’; the word ‘frau’ in German translates in to ‘Mrs.’ or ‘woman’, however, terms with the suffix ‘-frau’ can sometimes have unique definitions, such as ‘geschäftsfrau’ meaning ‘businesswoman’ and a ‘feuerwehrfrau’ is a female firefighter, thus ‘bogfrau’ was born, my official definition below:
/ bog-frow /
1. A female seated outside some public restrooms in Germany, the job of whom is to collect coins from the patrons after they have exited in order to maintain its upkeep.
“Has anyone got change? I’m busting for a piss, but there is a bogfrau and I don’t want to have to break a note.”
ORIGIN OF BOGFRAU
2022; <British/Australian Slang ‘bog‘ (n.), toilet or outhouse + German ‘frau‘ (n. suffix), woman>
It was a great day out, but it’s all a bit of a blur from that point on so I guess I’ll just let the camera do the talking and sorry, Judith, but you managed to get cut off in all of the group photos:
Anyway, it gets dark very late at this time of year, plus we’d been drinking since mid-afternoon and jet lag was beginning to kick in so it was best we head back to our hotel and start again in the morning.
Sunday, June 5, 2022
It seems that Germans don’t believe in air-conditioning or air-flow in general, because our room was stifling, a pattern we would notice over the following week, so sleeping was a little difficult, but we did it, albeit uncomfortably. Anna and myself were up early compared to our usual holiday standards due mainly to the time difference so we grabbed a coffee and had quick look around before meeting up with the others for a typical Bavarian breakfast in a very traditional restaurant. Sure there were people dressed in regular attire, but there were also a lot of older men with curly moustaches wearing lederhosen and women dressed in dirndls as well. Specials on the menu included bull testicles, spleen sausages, and veal lungs, but they wouldn’t be available until later in the day so we opted for essentially what we had eaten with Felix the previous afternoon, all of which Tom, Leonie, and Evan were yet to try, as well as some breakfast beers, a very common option in this part of the world. This time, however, we knew our white, boiled sausages were supposed to be peeled so that’s how we all ate them, all the while trying to look as seductive as possible, but it was also impossible to avoid a Seinfeld moment with Leonie being the first to inadvertently utter the phrase (above, right) verbatim about the exceptionally salty pretzels.
I had noticed upon entering the restaurant that several of the men in lederhosen had instruments with them, trumpets, accordions, one even with a tuba behind his seat, so it wasn’t a great surprise when they decided to bust them out and start playing some German folk music during our breakfast. It was getting really busy and the waitresses were run off their feet, constantly carrying fistfuls of steins and platters of sausages to tables all around the restaurant so when we finally got the attention of one, she didn’t have much time to waste. “Does the orange juice have pulp?” was Evan’s question for the rather stern looking woman with extremely limited English skills and it was met with a grunt and a confused look. “Pulp. Does it have pulp?” he asked again, however, this time she just gave him a look that screamed “I don’t have time for this shit” so he decided to drop it. It turns out that Evan really on likes juice when it has pulp, but I’m fairly certain I’d previously only ever heard people enquire when they don’t want it to have any.
It was going to be wet, but we were all only in Munich for two days and we learnt during our time spent in Bonn back seven years ago that nothing in Germany really opens on a Sunday. We started out by taking in the Marienplatz, which has been Munich’s main city square since 1158, starting with the mechanical performance of the Rathaus-Glockenspiel, here’s a bit of a rundown of what you see:
Every day the city’s central Marienplatz square is crammed with onlookers with their chins aimed skywards. They’re watching one of the city’s most loved oddities, the Munich Glockenspiel, or carillon. This chiming clock was added to the tower of the Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) the year the building was completed in 1907.
At 11am and midday (and 5pm between March and October) the Munich Glockenspiel recounts a royal wedding, jousting tournament and ritualistic dance – all events which have etched a mark on Munich’s popular folklore. The show lasts about 15 minutes and concludes with the golden bird up the top emerging and chirping three times. Different tunes are played on the clock’s 43 bells.
The top level recounts the 1568 wedding of Duke Wilhelm V (1548-1626) and Renata of Lorraine (1544–1602), one of the most expensive and downright decadent weddings of the Middle Ages. It was a huge dynastic deal, the Austrian archdukes arrived in a train of over 1500 horses and more than 600 oxen were carved and cooked up for the revellers. On the day of the nuptials the bride was collected from the nearby town of Dachau by no less than 3500 mounted riders.
The whole party lasted about two weeks. The crowd highlight was the Kröndlstechen, or crown joust, which took place right on Marienplatz and is now a big part of the Glockenspiel show. A well-named bloke called Caspar Nothaft von Wernberg zu Alhaming was declared the overall winner. He’d reportedly “injured several fingers on his left hand, but not before unhorsing four riders”. The Munich Glockenspiel shows a Bavarian knight battling a French jouster and as you’d expect the Bavarian always wins. The groom, Wilhelm V, became famous as the man who founded the famous Hofbrauhaus, and rather infamous for leading massive witch hunts across his domain.
On the lower level you can see the red-coated city’s coopers (barrel makers) do a ritualistic jig known as the Schäfflertanz. The dance is popularly thought to have begun in the devastating plague year of 1517, but it actually dates back further. Legend says the coopers started the dance to give Munich’s residents the all-clear that the plague was done and dusted. The Bavarian duke Wilhelm IV ordered the dance be re-enacted every seven years to keep the deadly disease in the collective memory.
The next Schäfflertanz, performed by guys in the same old-fashioned get up, will be in February 2019! You can see a couple of cooper statues in more detail at the entrance to Schäffler Strasse, west of the Marienhof park at the back of the Neues Rathaus.
There’s also a mini-show at 9pm, when two figures appear from the bays below the clock face. On one side there’s the Angel of Peace blessing the Münchner Kindl, the Munich’s child-monk mascot.
On the other side a night watchman appears, sounding the city curfew on his horn.
We watched the clockwork spectacle and after being farted on for the second time in as many days by some random, old, German man, we looked at other parts of the Marienplatz, including the Mariensäule, a Marian column, before branching out into other areas of the closed city, after which we had a few beers and an early, entirely pork-based dinner. Tom, Leonie, Judith, Felix, and Evan had to make their way back to their homes in Baden, Switzerland and we were still jet-lagged with a train to catch the following morning so we explored a little more, had a nightcap or four, and then returned to our hotel.
Some post-breakfast scenes including a portion of the Glockenspiel show:
Monday, June 6, 2022
We were up early again by our standards so we had time to have breakfast, including orange juice with pulp, before jumping on a train and heading down to Nuremberg:
Nuremberg is the second-largest city of the German state of Bavaria after its capital Munich, and its 518,370 (2019) inhabitants make it the 14th-largest city in Germany. On the Pegnitz River and the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal, it lies in the Bavarian administrative region of Middle Franconia, and is the largest city and the unofficial capital of Franconia. Nuremberg forms with the neighbouring cities of Fürth, Erlangen and Schwabach a continuous conurbation with a total population of 800,376 (2019), which is the heart of the urban area region with around 1.4 million inhabitants, while the larger Nuremberg Metropolitan Region has approximately 3.6 million inhabitants. The city lies about 170 kilometres (110 mi) north of Munich. It is the largest city in the East Franconian dialect area (colloquially: “Franconian”; German: Fränkisch).
While we were in town we would be staying at the Karl August, a rather interesting hotel in the Old Town that along with the Deutsches Museum, some shops, and some restaurants forms the Augustinerhof complex. We would only be here for two full days so we had to pack in as much as we could, first looking around the Old Town, beginning in the town square. The Nuremberg town square was much like most town squares in Germany; beautiful, surrounded by churches and clocktowers, and adorned with terrifying statues:
One thing that made the Nuremberg town square differ from any other was that it is also bordered on one side by the infamous Nuremberg Castle:
Nuremberg Castle is a group of medieval fortified buildings on a sandstone ridge dominating the historical center of Nuremberg in Bavaria, Germany.
The castle, together with the city walls, is considered to be one of Europe’s most formidable medieval fortifications. It represented the power and importance of the Holy Roman Empire and the outstanding role of the Imperial City of Nuremberg.
In the Middle Ages, German kings (respectively Holy Roman Emperors after their coronation by the Pope) did not have a capital, but voyaged from one of their castles (Kaiserpfalz or Imperial castle) to the next. Thus, the castle at Nürnberg became an important imperial castle, and in the following centuries, all German kings and emperors stayed at the castle, most of whom on several occasions.
Nuremberg Castle comprises three sections: the Imperial castle (Kaiserburg), the former Burgraves’ castle (Burggrafenburg), and the buildings erected by the Imperial City at the eastern site (Reichsstädtische Bauten).
As a kid, one of my absolute favourite videogames in the early 90s was Wolfenstein 3D (you can actually play it for free via that link too) so how could I not possibly want to tour the castle and particularly its dungeons, the setting of the game’s prequel, Spear of Destiny (again, playable)?
During the 45-minute tour there would be numerous stops, the full guide will be in the photos, but if you can’t be bothered reading it (although it is definitely worth the effort), this is the lowdown:
- The Underground Corridors: The oldest part of the castle, initially used by bakers to sell bread, it later became a dungeon prison.
- “Chapel” – The Torture Chamber: This room couldn’t be further from its nickname, but if you were still in a good mood after being stretched on the rack, suspended with weights hanging from your feet, or after being subjected to any of the other torture devices, that was clear proof of innocence. It’s science.
- Stocks: Dishonour anyone and you end up with your hands and feet locked in these wooden bad boys.
- Prison Cells: The former baker’s booths were later the perfect spot for locking up prisoners to stop the spread of disease.
- Executioner’s Chamber: No need to book a table here for your last meal, there was always one already reserved.
- “Smithy”: The location for dungeon repairs and the creation of new instruments of torture.
- Kitchen: This one speaks for itself.
- The Head Jailer’s Quarters: Similar to the quarters in the dungeon, but at least this one had the luxury of some daylight.
Take your own tour under the low ceilings and down the dark corridors and winding staircases through some of the more grim areas of Nuremberg Castle:
You may be wondering about the final picture of me sitting outside. Well, I wasn’t intended to be the focal point of that photo, more so the man in the white shirt with the receding hairline over my shoulder. It wasn’t his terrible shirt that caught Anna’s eye, more the fact that roughly three quarters of his teeth, particularly his molars, were solid gold, a grill that managed to look both incredible and ridiculous at the same time, but unfortunately we were unable to photograph him with his mouth open without also capturing his attention.
We spent the rest of the day and evening walking around the city, taking in the sights as usual, particularly more of the macabre statues and fountains (below), before once again settling into a brewery for the night for some dinner and drinks.
Tuesday, June 7, 2022
There is a lot to see in Nuremberg so we were going to make the most of it. We started out in the town square again, this time for the hauptmarkt, the main market, however, it turned out to be more fruit and vegetables than what we like in a market so we decided to do another historical trek, this time through the secret World War II art bunker:
Though more than 1,800 people in Nuremberg, Germany, died in a fiery hailstorm amid one million incendiary bombs and 120 blockbusters dropped on the city by the British Royal Air Force on Jan. 2, 1945, a horde of Nazi-accumulated artwork survived undamaged in a bunker hidden about 78 feet [23.7m] underground. The secret art bunker of Nuremberg, today known as the Historischer Kunstbunker, held the keys to the historic relics of the Nazis’ Party Rally city.
Artwork with cultural significance to the Third Reich was systematically removed during the war from Nuremberg and other German cities—and from conquered territories—and stored in the bunker. The horde of items packed into the subterranean maze included historic armor and weapons, a globe created by Martin Behaim in 1492, scientific instruments, manuscripts, statues, paintings and drawings. The Nazis removed stained glass windows from Nuremberg’s Frauenkirche and St. Lorenz cathedrals and packed them in carefully constructed wooden crates. Afterwards they installed substitute glass in the windows and draped them with long flags to conceal the missing panes from view. Fountains and altarpieces were also stored in the bunker. Artwork was packed into padded boxes as protection from bomb blasts.
Spending a second day underground seemed like a fine option, but the only way to explore the bunker was as a part of a guided tour. The tour was in German, but we were able to have an English audio guide so we spent the following hour exploring the medieval tunnel system, fully equipped with what was at the time state-of-the-art artefact preservation equipment, such as air conditioning, ventilation and moisture-control systems, modern plumbing, and also shock-resistant steel doors designed to withstand bomb tremors. There are no longer any artifacts inside besides a couple of headless statues, as all were returned to their rightful locations from before the war, but it was still cool to see:
The rest of the day followed the same pattern as most; just strolling around the streets of this beautiful city, embracing the architecture and horrendous German fashion, interspersed with stops in biergartens before finally settling in somewhere for dinner. But again, it couldn’t be a huge night, not just because it was Tuesday, but also because we would be back on the train again in the morning.
A final look around Nuremberg:
Wednesday, June 8, 2022
The leg of our trip that was the main reason we had traveled to Germany was here so we took a train that hit speeds of 300 kph (186.5 mph) to Berlin that morning. I had only spent one full day in Berlin before and absolutely loved it, the western part of the city is a really fun place so this time we wanted to check out more of the area properly. Of course Anna was there for a conference, but we would be in Berlin for four nights so there would still be plenty of time for her to get out and explore too.
Our train arrived in Berlin at about midday, we went straight to The Ritz-Carlton, checked in, and then hit the street. One of the first places we went was a building where I knew we would be spending quite a bit of time over the following days, the Marheineke Markthalle, a huge, indoor food market with plenty of places to eat well. As we were approaching the market Anna saw a poster on a pole that caught her attention, an advertisement for a play called The Elephant in the Room, performed by the French Cirque Le Roux so she promptly booked tickets for the following night. After lunch we spent a relaxing afternoon wandering around, passing the regular centuries-old ruins, as well as artists sketching outdoors, a kebab van with a line down the block, and Zwanglos III, a now dilapidated swinger’s club with a customer satisfaction rating of 3.2/5, leading me to believe that their website mainly refers to their primary establishment, not this particular location. Could there even be a Zwanglos IV?
Anyway, the day ended in much the same way as most, with dinner and some drinks afterward, but we wanted to save ourselves for the next day:
Thursday, June 9, 2022
Each session at Anna’s conference was usually only for half a day so we took advantage of her afternoon off and of course the first stop was the Marheineke Markthalle. She absolutely loves crêpes so as soon as she found a crêpe stall inside, that was lunch sorted; two enormous, savoury crêpes. Once we had finished those we checked out the rest of the market, had a stroll around another part of town before grabbing an early dinner, but we couldn’t waste too much time, we had to be at the Kino Theatre for the night’s performance of The Elephant in the Room:
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
Circus / Comedy / Crime
Deliciously retro and absolutely original, Cirque Le Roux delves into a smoky monochrome world of circus arts, Hollywood film noir and physical theatre.
Welcome to the luxurious estate of Miss Betty, in autumn 1937. Caught between her desperate husband, a fumbling valet and a lustful admirer, our hostess slips away from her wedding reception into a secluded smoking lounge. Cigars, whisky, slapstick and remarkable acrobatics culminate into a turbulent amorous intrigue. Hidden amongst the darkly decadent ambiance, high society is bedevilled by a thousand plots and schemes and an elephant in the room is taking up more and more space…
Cirque Le Roux serves up a dose of wit and eccentricity, seamlessly blending storytelling with high-level acrobatics. The four artists perfect everything from costumes to set design, perilous circus numbers to the mysteries of love, friendship and the obvious truths we choose to ignore. One lingers over the final minutes of this first creation by Cirque Le Roux moved, full of admiration and eager to follow the next chapter
The show began at 8:00pm, but from the second we had stepped inside it became clear that this was a show aimed at couples, because there were people of all ages making out everywhere. In fact, the couple seated at the table behind us didn’t stop the entire show, which is a shame for them, because they missed out on an incredible performance, it was awesome.
Once the play was over we found ourselves in nearby Die Hackeschen Höfe, or ‘The Hackesche Farms’, a really cool 100-year old complex of interlinked art-nouveau courtyards full of cafes, bars, boutiques, and art exhibitions. Because we had been to a play of her choosing, Anna was more than happy to go to the dingy type of dive bar that I like before taking in some of the artworks and murals in the laneways on our way back to the hotel.
It was a great day:
Friday, June 10, 2022
The day that Anna would be speaking at the conference was here, but my attendance wouldn’t be required until that evening so while Anna was giving a talk on age-related macula degeneration, I was checking out more of the city, this time past gum-covered pillars made from remnants of the Berlin Wall in Potsdamer Platz, a place we would both see again that night, then down a street of awesome record and secondhand stores where I bought some great stuff, past the Berliner Philharmonie in the Tiergarten, the building laying adjacent to the former site of Tiergartenstraβe 4, a villa in which the Aktion T4 programme was organised:
Aktion T4 was a campaign of mass murder by involuntary euthanasia in Nazi Germany. The term was first used in post-war trials against doctors who had been involved in the killings. The name T4 is an abbreviation of Tiergartenstraße 4, a street address of the Chancellery department set up in early 1940, in the Berlin borough of Tiergarten, which recruited and paid personnel associated with Aktion T4. Certain German physicians were authorised to select patients “deemed incurably sick, after most critical medical examination” and then administer to them a “mercy death”. In October 1939, Adolf Hitler signed a “euthanasia note”, backdated to 1 September 1939, which authorised his physician Karl Brandt and Reichsleiter Philipp Bouhler to begin the killing.
The killings took place from September 1939 until the end of the war in 1945; from 275,000 to 300,000 people were killed in psychiatric hospitals in Germany and Austria, occupied Poland and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia (now the Czech Republic). The number of victims was originally recorded as 70,273 but this number has been increased by the discovery of victims listed in the archives of the former East Germany. About half of those killed were taken from church-run asylums, often with the approval of the Protestant or Catholic authorities of the institutions.
Several reasons have been suggested for the killings, including eugenics, racial hygiene, and saving money. Physicians in German and Austrian asylums continued many of the practices of Aktion T4 until the defeat of Germany in 1945, in spite of its official cessation in August 1941. The informal continuation of the policy led to 93,521 “beds emptied” by the end of 1941. Technology developed under Aktion T4, particularly the use of lethal gas on large numbers of people, was taken over by the medical division of the Reich Interior Ministry, along with the personnel of Aktion T4, who participated in mass murder of Jewish people. The programme was authorised by Hitler but the killings have since come to be viewed as murders in Germany. The number of people killed was about 200,000 in Germany and Austria, with about 100,000 victims in other European countries.
That’s macabre, inhumane, and inexcusable, but we would learn a little more about it later that night. After reading the information pillar on the spot, I wanted to get off my feet for a bit so I headed over to Bikini Berlin, a shopping mall with views into the Berlin Zoo, for a coffee and possibly a beer or two.
Some sights up until that point:
I went back to the hotel to relax and wait for Anna, passing a cool looking cathedral in Charlottenburg along the way. Anna soon returned, napped for a bit, and a couple of hours later we both got changed and were on the way out again for dinner, this time by tour bus with an extremely miserable tour guide who stated along the way, “I can eat less than I can vomit”. A nice image to have in your head right before a formal dinner. We soon arrived at Pariser Platz so we got the required selfies in front of the Brandenburg Gate before walking over to the dinner. It was in an interesting-looking building and Anna and I got to catch up with some old friends, as well as some of her past professors and collaborators, but it wasn’t until the dinner itself started that things got amusing. The food, of course, was fantastic, but it was when the female, American conference organiser was welcoming the new members of the Macular Society and had a substantial amount of trouble pronouncing their names that Anna, myself, and everyone else at our table struggled to keep a straight face; ‘Kuang’ became ‘Kevin’, ‘Ning’ was now ‘Nina’, and when it came to Indian members she had no idea, her plan being to just mumble it and hope everyone knew who she meant.
We spent a lot of time chatting with people we hadn’t seen since pre-Covid 19 times so it was a great evening, after which we decided to go sightseeing around the area at night. We figured our photos of Brandenburg Gate would be greatly improved without the sun glaring so we took some better ones in the dark before walking around a bit more and that’s when we stumbled upon another sobering site — The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe:
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, also known as the Holocaust Memorial, is a memorial in Berlin to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, designed by architect Peter Eisenman and Buro Happold. It consists of a 19,000-square-metre (200,000 sq ft) site covered with 2,711 concrete slabs or “stelae”, arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field. The original plan was to place nearly 4,000 slabs, but after the recalculation, the number of slabs that could legally fit into the designated areas was 2,711. The stelae are 2.38 m (7 ft 9+1⁄2 in) long, 0.95 m (3 ft 1+1⁄2 in) wide and vary in height from 0.2 to 4.7 metres (8 in to 15 ft 5 in). They are organised in rows, 54 of them going north–south, and 87 heading east–west at right angles but set slightly askew. An attached underground “Place of Information” holds the names of approximately 3 million Jewish Holocaust victims, obtained from the Israeli museum Yad Vashem.
Building began on 1 April 2003, and was finished on 15 December 2004. It was inaugurated on 10 May 2005, sixty years after the end of World War II in Europe, and opened to the public two days later. It is located one block south of the Brandenburg Gate, in the Mitte neighborhood. The cost of construction was approximately €25 million.
The memorial is located on Cora-Berliner-Straße 1, 10117 in Berlin, a city with one of the largest Jewish populations in Europe before the Second World War. Adjacent to the Tiergarten, it is centrally located in Berlin’s Friedrichstadt district, close to the Reichstag building and the Brandenburg Gate. The monument is situated on the former location of the Berlin Wall, where the “death strip” once divided the city. During the war, the area acted as the administrative centre of Hitler’s killing machine, with the Chancellery building and his bunker both nearby. The memorial is located near many of Berlin’s foreign embassies.
We walked around the Memorial for a while, the darkness of night giving it an eerie glow and a bit of a downer to the general atmosphere so we decided to have an early night. Besides, we had another big day coming up.
The dinner and the walk home:
Saturday, June 11, 2022
It was our final day in Berlin and we had a big one planned. We decided to explore other parts of the city, but first we wanted to see the Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe by day before walking down the river Spree and admiring all of the architecture along it, grabbing a currywurst along the way, but the main plan was to catch up with my old friend from my hometown of Traralgon, Australia, Sean Elleman. Sean has been working in Berlin for some years now as the owner and a tattoo artist at Straight Ink Tattoo, but I hadn’t seen him since the last time we were in town, which was over seven years ago now. He knows all of the good haunts so we met up with him at one of his favourites for some afternoon libations, but it couldn’t be a late one — he now has family responsibilities to tend to and we had an early, 12-hour flight back to Singapore the following morning. One interesting quote that came from that afternoon, however, was when we were talking about the bad body odour of some people we passed in the street and Sean mentioned that it’s very common for German people not to bathe very often, a girl once saying to him that she couldn’t understand why she smelled, “I showered just the other day!”.
Our day up until that point:
Once it was time to move on we decided to end our final night in Berlin in style with dinner at Katz Orange. Dinner was spectacular again and I could bore you with pictures of everything we ate, but you can just check out their Instagram. Anyway, we got home relatively early as planned, got to the airport on time the following morning and caught our flight back to Singapore completely hassle free!
I absolutely love Berlin and can’t wait to return, Munich was fun as always, but the company made it even better, and Nuremberg is a cool, albeit creepy, city too. A big shout out to the Macula Society for inviting Anna to their meeting and being able to see old friends in person again. It was awesome meeting up with Tom, Leonie, Judith, and Felix again, as well as meeting Evan. Cheers, Felix, for showing us around Munich and finding the real Bavarian food for us, and we will catch Tom and Leonie again for a cruise down the Nile in a few weeks, and as always, I’ll have a beer with you, Sean, next time we’re in Berlin if I don’t see you before then. Prost!
Quite the German adventure! I lived in Germany- twice, actually- and many things about German were an acquired taste. Must have acquired it though as we now plan to buy a home in the German countryside.
And now I’ll never be able to pop my change in a dish in the ladies without the term, ‘bogfrau’ or ‘toilet wench’ coming to mind!
Hahaha! That term was nothing but a tipsy in-joke at first, but then we just kept using it. Glad you liked it!