P Marks The Spot

Normally when travelling by myself, I land at the airport with nothing more than a Lonely Planet guidebook and a completely open agenda. I had just two full days in Berlin though, so I planned more carefully. I didn’t have a day or so to orientate myself to my surroundings. I planned an itinerary and booked the required tickets. First up was a walking tour, booked through Viator with Discover Berlin. A four hour march past all the key sites in Berlin’s history. The first part focused on pre 20th century Berlin. The latter part on the World War and Cold War. The guide was enthusiastic and interesting, which helps.

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I returned to one of the locations the next day. A very nondescript car park, just a few hundred metres from the Reichstag. It’s a car park because its difficult to build on this spot. Underneath lies the Fuhrerbunker, where Hitler made his last stand. There is a sign explaining the location and describing the layout of the bunker, 8 metres below the surface. This only went up in 2006, in time for the World Cup.You can’t access the bunker today. Over the years there have been efforts to destroy it and/or fill it in with concrete. There’s a fascinating collection of photographs by Rober Conrad, who disguised himself as a construction worker in 1987 and went down into the bunker to document what remained.

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It’s a place worthy of sitting for a while. To picture the scene, seventy years ago. The Nazi regime was in its death throes, but Adolf Hitler still strolled this patch of ground from time to time. Have you seen the film Downfall? It’s a masterpiece, well worth a couple of hours of your time. It’s based entirely on the last days and hours of the regime, covering the moment that Hitler finally did the right thing and put a bullet through his brain.

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Historians have placed the pit where the bodies of Mr and Mrs Hitler were partially burned to be by the first parking sign in this photo. The irony of this being a wheelchair accessible parking space is not lost on me. The only way to make it a more appropriate parking space would be if it were reserved for black, gay, Jewish wheel chair users. Dr Goebbels has it worse. They built the Monument to Murdered Jews over his bunker. Karma.

Everything possible has been done by the authorities to make this site uninteresting and devoid of stand out features. To remove the blemish of the Third Reich from the streets of the city. To say that they have attempted to whitewash history or pretend it didn’t happen is going too far and is unfair. This is a complicated and touchy subject.

15 thoughts on “P Marks The Spot

    1. I haven’t, but I looked them up. It looks a good idea in principle. Bu I have some reservations, on a number of levels, about something which is labelled as free, but where you are expected to tip to provide the guides income. I think if I were a guide, I’d prefer a wage. Tips are meant to be an extra incentive…

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  1. Interesting tour. I think the Germans have done a pretty good job of coming to terms with their ugly past. And I think making Hitler’s bunker a car park/street is probably for the best.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we’d love to see Berlin some day.

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    1. I’d have liked to see a synagogue put there. But, alas, there weren’t enough people of that religious persuasion to make that a worthwhile venture.

      But yes, they have reconciled themselves as well as could be expected. Of course, a lot of the decision making was taken out of their hands in the post war governance of Germany.

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      1. The allies did indeed have some fairly strong ideas about what life in post-war Germany should be like. But the Germans have certainly done better than many other societies that have committed atrocities.

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        1. There’s a lot to admire about how Germany has produced one of the fairer societies and most productive economies over the last 60 years or so. There’s a lot the US and UK could learn from them.

          That they’ve committed atrocities may well be incidental. The British Empire produced more victims, albeit over a longer time span. Stalin wasn’t much better. But the Germans lost. That is, ultimately, the biggest factor.

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        2. British and US atrocities haven’t been nearly so systematic, and I have a hard time believing your “produced more victims, albeit over time” assertion. Yes, the history with the Native Americans here comes closest, but still doesn’t really match what the Nazis did. And while there was every effort made to push them off their land, systematic extermination was not on the agenda.

          Have you seen the series on Amazon, “The Man in the High Castle,” that everyone’s raving about? The thesis is that the allies lost WWII and the USA is split between Japan and Germany. I haven’t seen it, but it sounds interesting.
          Saludos!

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  2. We’ll never know how many Indians died during the ‘famines’, whilst we continued to export their food. We wouldn’t want to upset the free markets, would we? At least 12 million died. Perhaps as many as 50 million. Then there were the Irish. The aborigines of Australia rather came a cropper. A huge chunk of Africa. They all add up to a rather sombre number. It most certainly, at the very least, is a comparable number. At the very least.

    But you’re right in that, historically speaking anyway, the manner of death is an important differential. In both cases, they came about rather deliberately, so I’m not sure the victims differentiate so much, though.

    I’ve watched the first episode of the Man in the High Castle. But it’s on hold while I watch Making of a Murderer on Netflix.

    Saludos to you too!

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