Thursday, July 25, 2013

When the time came for a map of Berlin, my dear friend and talented illustrator Paul got really excited and couldn't wait to start talking about this town. When I requested a comprehensive list of must-see's, he responded immediately and with such passion, I had to share his list with you. I'd never heard him sound like an inspiring history teacher before, and it charmed me something fierce!

In his own words, just an email from him to me, this is Paul Dotey's Berlin.

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Berlin can be a stern concrete cousin to Paris, but it really does reveal itself. Someone told me that Berlin is a museum of the 20th Century. Fascism, communism, Nazism, capitalism, totalitarianism: All of it happened there. Paris and Rome have ancient history, but Berlin's history happened within the lifetime of the old duffers sitting next to you on the bus! Berliners have seen it!

Bauhaus Archiv | A great museum. Well put together, but not massive. I really loved it, it combined the style and look of the age with the politics. The modern shit got shut down pretty quickly when Hitler pushed for a return to traditional German style.

Tiergarten | Berlin's Central Park. Nude sunbathing boys, too, if you know where to get lost.

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is very impressive. The metaphor presents itself quickly - wandering through what seems like an open free place but you can quickly lose the person you're with if you turn a corner.

The Topography of Terror is also worth a visit (ok, ok, there's more to Berlin than genocide and war, stick with me...) It's an outdoor museum along part of the Wall and on the site of the Gestapo HQ. It was powerful.

The Kathe Kollwitz Museum was really special to me - She drew, painted, sculpted, all about women and children. She lost her father and brothers in WW1, then her sons in WW2, so she was FUCKING MAD. I'd never describe her work as depressing or bleak - she has too strong a style, she's too bold to be pitiful. Her style is pretty much the benchmark for Anti-War propaganda.

Potsdamer Platz is one of the best sections of 'new' Berlin; it used to be the border between east and west and now it pretty much looks like what North America should look like in 2150. "Ohhh, so THIS is urban planning done right," you will say. 

Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church is a TRIP. It's a bombed-out remain from WW2 but they didn't rebuild it, they just... kinda preserved it. See it to believe it. 

Checkpoint Charlie is also really amazing with a small, quick museum. This is the place that made all of Berlin's recent history make sense. This one little gate and a guard was the border between the free world and the iron curtain. The museum has cars with hollowed-out seats to fit children so the parents could drive through Checkpoint Charlie to 'visit a doctor' in West Berlin, but they were in fact escaping. And when they snuck adults in cars they wedged blocks of wood into the shocks so the car wouldn't ride low and look too heavy! And these people are alive today! This stuff isn't ancient history!

LOCATION: Berlin, Germany
DATE AND TIME: Thursday, July 25, 2013 11:00AM Central European Summer Time/Thursday, July 25, 2013 5:00AM EST

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