My trip to Berlin June 2015

After the boy and I got back home from Normandy, I had to return to Germany for a quick errand. While I was there I took the time to visit Berlin. I had never been there before.

 

 

I guess that the Brandenburg gate is the first place that any respectable tourist visits while in Berlin. I only took a photo of the top half because the entire lower level was obscured by the crowds. You see, as luck would have it, I arrived on the day of the 2015 Gay pride parade and festival.

(you wouldn't believe the things that I saw in the crowds. I'm just a guy from a small town in Michigan. I never saw stuff like that before.)

The victory column in the center of the Tiergarten is a sight not to be missed.

 

Here is the Reichstag building. Quite different from when the Russians visited it in 1945. They have it all cleaned up now.

Apparently during the clean-up, in several places, they left the graffiti that the Russian soldiers had written all over the walls in 1945. Of course they painted over all the offensive and sexist stuff.

 

What photo tour of Berlin would be complete without a then-and-now shot of Sgt Mikhail Yegerov's flag raising?

I couldn't climb to the exact spot where the Soviet photographer took the picture but the spot is here at the back of the building.

This is a modern photo of the spot where the trucks and tanks are parked, just behind the banner in the flag raising photo. The red X's show the location of the vehicles seen in the original photo above.

 

Oh...This is the only photo that I took during the gay-pride parade.  I photographed them from the back because I was afraid to take out my camera in case they didn't like having their photo taken. We all know what happens when we get the Germans mad at us.

 

 

It is always wise to chain your bicycle to a good sturdy post. That way nobody will steal it.

 

 

German hotel breakfasts are the best breakfasts

 

 

Here is a picture of the famous "Check-point Charlie" During the cold war it was the official marker that indicated entry to the American zone. The unofficial marker was of course; the McDonald's sign....long live freedom.

 

 

This is the giant TV radio tower built by the east German's. It's the tallest structure in Europe.

 

 

Even the Communist East German's recognized the value of adding a restaurant and observation floor.

 

 

This is a shot from the observation floor showing the Brandenburg gate, unter den linden and the tiergarten.

 

 

The Berliner dome seen from 350 feet up.

 

This is a view to the east. Note the soviet style panel-loc apartments. These things are all over the place in the former soviet bloc cities.

 

 

This is the Berlin Franciscan monastery partly destroyed during the battle of Berlin. Rather than fix it up, they just evened off the edges and left it.

 

 

Back on the ground, I was able to go to a store and buy a can of Scho-ka-kola; a dark, bitter chocolate that was very popular with the Wehrmacht. They still make it today in Berlin (this is the company's 80th anniversary)

About 40 miles to the east of Berlin is the Seelow Heights. Scene of the last great stand taken by the German armies in front of Berlin in April 1945. This is the soviet memorial erected on the highest spot.

 

 

Russian graves at the summit of the Seelow heights.

 

 

This shows the wide flat area to the east of the heights. A 10 mile wide plain which had been flooded by the Germans and over which the Red Army had to advance.

The Germans had massed all that was left of their available forces; 150,000 men, 550 tanks in various stages of repair.

The Russians were coming with three army groups. 2,500,000 men, 6000 tanks and gazillions of artillery.

Can you imagine what was felt by each one of the German defenders at this moment? The Red army had already shown what it was doing in East Prussia; rape, pillage and wonton destruction like barbarian hordes in the middle ages. And now they were baring down on the German capital. The defenders had Berlin to their backs; standing between the avenging Russians and their own women and families. No hope of stopping them. Surrender meant slavery or death.  Running away meant murder by the German's own roving Gendarmes.

Kind of makes you think of things in perspective. Remember it the next time you are in the check-out line at Walmart and some old woman is slowing up the line by fumbling with her checkbook.

 

 

That factory smoke stack in the distance is in Poland across the Oder river about 20 miles away.

 

 

We drove across the Oder river into Poland. Then after a few miles the highway stopped. Know any good Polish jokes?

(Remember; my name is Niewiarowicz so I am allowed to make Polish jokes.)

 Did you hear about the Polish Cyclops? He had two eyes.

 

 

 

Back in Berlin we see the Soviet memorial to the fighting in the Tiergarten. Cannons, statues and Tanks. That's what all Soviet memorials are made from.

 

 

This is a rare T34/76. (Much different than the T-34/85s which are much more prevelant)

T34's are my second favorite kind of tank.

 

 

These birds are making their nest inside the holes of the punctured frontal armor. They figure they will be safe there, I guess.  They don't notice that across the street there is a cat with a panzerfaust.

 

 

This is the terminal building at Templehof airport; built in the 1930s. The eagle is still there but the swastika has been neatly blocked off. That's it. I am getting out of town.