Berlin: 5/26 – 5/30 by Ava Woods

Although Berlin was just as gorgeous as the other cities, its history was rich no matter where we went. During our stay, we visited two places that really resonated with me, the Topography of Terror Museum, and the Berlin Wall.

At the Topography of Terror Museum, we got a chance to learn about the Holocaust. Although solemn subject, it was a very eye-opening experience. Prior to visiting this museum, I knew the basics that we were taught in school; how Hitler and his Nazi’s killed millions and millions of Jews and prisoners of war, but I never understood about how brainwashed the entire society was. In this museum, seeing that there were several photos of “happy couples” holding and posing with Nazi flags and large groups of children under the age of ten doing the Nazi Salute, was heartbreaking to say the least. Even though millions of people lost their lives, millions of others supported Hitler and his ways, whether it was out of fear or political alignment.

What was even more heartbreaking was seeing how many Nazis, especially ones in higher, more powerful positions, got off without any punishment. In particular, one higher up member of the party was still a practicing doctor until his death. Even recently, trials are still going on to this day for those still alive and accountable for actions taken during this time period. The holocaust may have been stopped, but there is still work to be done to even try to repair the devastation millions have and are still facing.

Another eye-opening visit in Berlin was the East side of the Berlin Wall. I will be the first to admit that I am not a history junkie, and knew very little about the significance of the wall along with its fall. However, after seeing its beautifully painted remains, I can say I learned a lot in my visit.

The wall was used to keep the east and west sides of Berlin separated in the 1900’s. Many families, couples, and friends were unable to see or speak to each other for years. Food was brought in by airlift, and there were certain points in the wall that were small openings (with metal gates to not allow people to cross over) where they could have a chance at seeing loved ones. After its fall in 1989, artists were able to come and paint murals along the east side reaming sections. Not just any murals, but ones encouraging freedom, equality, and love for all, along with some that called out Berlin and Germanys past negative actions. I have included some pictures of my favorite ones.

As said before, I am by no means a history junkie, but I am very glad to become more educated on these sensitive topics during my stay in Berlin. I cannot wait to hopefully come back here with my family one day, and allow them to see these important aspects firsthand as well.

In conclusion, this trip through Europe was not only an amazing time, but extremely educational and enriching experience. From watching gorgeous dance performances, to sight-seeing, and to learning about the history in which American schooling may leave out, I feel I have come out of this journey with lifelong friends, and knowledge about topics I wouldn’t have learned about otherwise. I wholeheartedly plan to attend another study abroad at COFC as soon as I can; I will never forget the memories I made with some people I am now lucky enough to call my friends. What a great way to end my freshman year!

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