Week 2 : June 3 – June 9
As we travel through Berlin I am continuously surprised by how breathtaking the world is here. In our adventures we have seen almost everything from parks to memorials to museums to legitimate castles! And their existence alone speaks volumes to what is valued here. The way the architects view nature is vastly different from ours. The quality of life and the different things they prioritize- like having bike lanes and having public transport- is something I still find myself adjusting to.
Berlin especially is like a walking museum or memorial. It feels as though anything that could be preserved from wars has been. And anything that couldn’t has something to memorialize it. For instance, you could find pieces of the Berlin wall just scattered around the city- bought by companies or just placed about. As a tourist or even as a civilian in Germany, you can be learning at anytime.
One good example is the Charlottenburg palace. It’s free of charge to visit the palace and its grounds- so many people used it as a place to jog or take a stroll. Its completely different from simply walking through your local park. There’s the opportunity to learn if sought out.
On Thursday it really hit me how thoughtfully our professors planned out this trip. Usually our days are jam packed with visits as we fit as much as we can between our 9 to 5 schedule. But on this day we only visited two places- the Oranienburg concentration camp and Treptower Park.
As students we were left with seeing the juxtaposition between visiting a former concentration camp and a park that served as a memorial for the fallen soviet soldiers. I was left with what feels like a deeper understanding of war.
I was encouraged to see how we can view war from a modern standpoint and to see how people viewed the war right after its end. Despite the difference in what was being remembered, somewhere within both was a sense of mourning and loss.
The way we use landscape is truly powerful. It’s something we cannot take for granted.