A comment was made suggesting my effusive endorsement of Berlin could be seen as overlooking the historical significance of this city to many people. Aware that some readers might not know me well enough to know that was a significant consideration during my entire trip there, I wanted to specifically address that thought.
A city as beautiful as Berlin became the heart of one of the most inherently evil empires in history. People of all shapes, beliefs, proclivities, political leanings, and educational pursuits – all simply gunned down, arrested, tortured, or imprisoned and retained in subhuman conditions. World War II was a subject we studied at length in school and one whose message I have always been sensitive to and horrified at its root impetus.
Our book club is currently reading, “In the Garden of Beasts,” a non-fiction book that explores the experience of the American ambassador, William E. Dodd, and his family, in the years of Hitler’s chancellorship and as they watched in slight disbelief and eventual horror as he sequestered power of Germany. Walking along Unter den Linden and through the Tiergarden and past the American Embassy, the experiences that happened in this city were present in my mind and close to my heart.
To visit present day Berlin is to see a city full of life and a very multi-cultural life at that. It is well known as a popular gay destination with a whole culture, bars, and clubs dedicated to the gay population, a population that was terribly persecuted by the Nazis. As mentioned in previous posts, the Turkish population is second only to Turkey. Restaurants run the gamut (with their particular proprietors) of cuisine from all over the world. And people in the streets look like a melting pot of cultures, religions, appearances, and sizes. So, being cognizant of the history is absolutely important when appreciating Berlin, but I think it’s bounced back with fervor.