Timed tickets for
Sir Norman Fosters Reichstag/Bundestag
restorationmeant that we did not have to queue for entry with the masses. Foster retained the graffiti drawn by Russian soldiers in 1945 as a poignantreminder of those days. The magnificent glass dome contains walkwaysup and down, from which the public can see the debating chamber below.The view from the top takes in the panorama of Berlin old and new. Thescene is dotted with tower cranes, where new construction is taking placeon a grand scale. We toured most of the building with a helpful guide provided by the Bundestag. It was interesting to see how close the publicgalleries were to the debating chamber.Finally that day, we walked into the square between the Opera House andthe library of Humbolt University, Bebelplatz. This should have been a place always associated with Deutche Kultur, but here was the site wherethe Nazis
“burnt the Books”.
Not only Jewish books were burned butalso those considered to have been influenced by Jewish thoughts andideas. Madness. The memorial to this event is a glass window let into thecentre of the cobblestones. It contains pale white empty bookcases on allfour sides.The theme for our final day was “Jews confronting German Memories”.The
Wansee Villa is where “The Final Solution”
for the destruction of European Jewry was finalised. Himmler, Eichman and their croniesrelaxed over canapés and cigars whilst deciding the fate of millions.Among the papers was a list of European Jewry country by countrytotalling 11 million. It sent a shiver down ones spine to read “England33.000”.They decided to use hundreds of trains to ship Jews from all over Europe to the death camps in Poland .These were given priority over eventhe war effort. We discussed the questions of human behaviour, good andevil, our attitudes to modern Germany.
Grunevald Station/Gleis 17
Memorial followed. Everybody present wasvisibly moved standing on the platform, some distance away from themain station. Here , e so many had boarded the railcars bound for Sachsenhausen, Bergen Belsen, Theresienstadt, and Auschwitz. The Nazis even found a few remaining Jews to move out in early 1945, whenthe war was almost over. The train numbers, dates, destination andnumbers of Jews transported are cast in rusting iron on the edge of the platform.Finally in the town hall square of Steglitz, in the middle of a bustling fleamarket we came to the
Spiegelwand (Mirror Wall
). This is a memorial