Berlin: the reign of two terrors

You have to remember that Berlin (and Germany) was not just subjected to the devastating division between east and west during the cold war years, but in the 1930s and 1940s it also suffered the appalling oppression of the National Socialists.

Brandenburg Gate, on the divide between east and west.

Brandenburg Gate, on the divide between east and west.

Germany had undergone a social and political revolution with the coming of the Third Reich, which initially promised to be the saviour of the country following defeat in WW1 and the economic depression but, in fact, turned into the force that ultimately destroyed Germany by 1945. Instead of being liberated by the allied troops at the end of the war, the division of Germany into four sectors spelled the advent of years of ‘incarceration’ for those in the east.

Curiously, on the same site where a long section of the Wall has been preserved, you will also find the museum of the Topography of Terror, which is housed in the area where the National Socialists had their centre of operations, including the buildings where dissidents were interrogated and tortured.IMAG2133

The museum provides a detailed and honest account of the brutality dealt out by the Nazis. I found the same message coming across as I did in the Documentation Museum in Nuremberg (which I visited 18 months ago en route to Istanbul). The blame for the war and its destructive consequences was entirely the responsibility of the National Socialists, including the utter annihilation of much of Germany. At no point did I see the merest suggestion that the allied troops bore any of the responsibility.

Dawn over the eastern sector

Dawn over the eastern sector…..and building work continues along the former ‘death strip’.

I guess that Germany’s ability to swiftly come to terms with its own past has been a cornerstone to the rapid reconstruction of a country that has, once more, become the leading nation of Europe……both economically and morally.

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About Frank Burns

Looking for the extraordinary in the commonplace………taking the road less travelled……..striving for the ‘faculty of making happy chance discoveries’ in unremarkable circumstances. Click on the Personal Link below to visit my webpages.

Posted on October 4, 2015, in Berlin and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. A thoughtful review. I think the Third Reich was an aberration in the German character, the main reasons for its birth being the Kaiser’s inferiority complex followed by French intransigence over reparations. If there had been a Marshall Plan after the Great War, Europe would look very different now.

    • ……very interesting thoughts. And what if Hitler had not survived WW1? It’s tempting to think he alone was the catalyst, but he was simply tapping into the energy of a restless and disgruntled nation, who were waiting for a ‘saviour’ to come along.

  2. Interesting to read your thoughts on this – someone I know recently suggested that if Hitler had achieved his ambitions as an artist Germany’s history could have been different. I tend to agree with you that the time and national mood created the man, and if it hadn’t been Hitler it would have been another.

  3. “What if” history is at the same time fascinating and also somewhat pointless. The fact is that Hitler did exist, there was a second world war, and the holocaust. No doubt there would have been armed conflict in Europe at some time in the absence of Hitler, but I’m not convinced that, without him, Germay would have created the state-controlled machinery for killing the Jews, Roma, and others.

    And yet the hands of the Allies are not entirely clean: Dresden?

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