Berlin: From Initial Impressions to Understading

May 31, 2010
Berlin is beautiful and holds a surprising allure. It is a city whose varied history is unmistakably present in not just museums, but in the buildings that house them, the streets and neighborhoods they are located in, and the people who occupy them. As a result, Berlin has surprised the hell out me. I spent so much time planning the legs of my German tour not affiliated with the class , that until I began looking up Berlin right before my trips departure, I had constructed my German image without giving much thought to Berlin. I had spent so much time viewing material that reinforced the image of Germany’s princely and European aristocratic history, that I almost forgot I was coming here to study the city that had been the capital of Hitler’s Third Reich and then the capital of the former communist GDR.
My first two images of Berlin were of Alexanderplatz, the former center of east Berlin, and then the Friedrichshain neighborhood our hostel is located, also in the former eastern bloc. In both areas, despite communism  having fallen, the architecture and energy emanating from the neighborhoods were still unique in that the eastern areas communist history are still very apparent.

At first my opinion was that the areas matched the stereotypical image of what former soviet communist areas would look life. Much of what I first saw was drab and grey and not well kempt; and coming from the United States and neighborhoods that are well manicured, I must admit, I was initially unimpressed and uncomfortable. Though I have sense, after having ventured out into many different areas of the city, come to appreciate and respect the areas in the former east and the uniqueness that they maintain. Thus, my initial impressions of there is too much graffiti, flyers and postings in public space, and trash on the ground, has shifted too recognizing a resistance to the sterility of mass produced westernized culture.


One comment

  1. Very nice conclusion. I love the energy in East Berlin. The graffiti just makes it feel politically alive to me. Revolutionary potential written all over the walls, the trains, and even the people.

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