17 March 2012

Less work, more sight-seeing

Since the amount of work on my plate has lessened recently, I decided to spend some time this week getting out of and seeing some more of Berlin.  Winter is not exactly the most convenient time of year to sight-see, so with spring upon us, I ventured to see the Holocaust memorial and the Tiergarten (on two different days).

I still don't know what to make of the Holocaust memorial in Berlin.  Located a stone's (really good) throw from the Brandenburger Tor, and right next to the American Embassy, the Denkmal für ermordeten Juden Europas (Memorial for the murdered Jews of Europe) is a basically a series of concrete steles (or slabs) that, towards the streets, are fairly short, but the further in towards the middle you get, the taller the slabs get so that you are enveloped by them.  Obviously these unidentical monuments are symbolic, but it's hard for me to decide if the monument is effective.  I saw teenagers flirting and running around and children playing hide and seek within, and wondered if they even knew what the point was.  For me, this is the biggest problem with the monument.  If you just go there without knowing about the Holocaust, the monument can just seem like a maze, or a game.

kids jumping from one slab to another
My other sight seeing trip was mainly to take advantage of the amazing weather we've been having here in Berlin over the last couple of days.  I went down to the Tiergarten (like Berlin's Central Park).  It's called the Tiergarten (Animal Garden) because it was once the hunting grounds for the royalty and such.  It's the oldest (and biggest) in Berlin, and was redesigned in the 1830s.  After being decimated in WWII, the park was restored after.  In the middle is the Siegesäule, or the Victory tower commemorating some victory against France in the 1870s.

It's definitely a peaceful place to escape the city, and on a day when the sun was shining and the temnperature about 18 degrees celsius, it was a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

Brandenburger Tor
Monument for Haydn Mozart and Beethoven

Beethoven, with gouges from small arms fire in WWII

The Siegesäule

Finally, this week was not entirely without klezmer.  My friends' band from Israel, Ramzailech, had a 3 concert tour in Germany beginning in Berlin on Thursday.  They play what they call "hardcore klezmer" - a mix of klezmer and hardcore heavy metal music.  I sat in with them for their last encore song, and then went to the Klezmer Stammtisch where I klezmered away until about 1:30AM!

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