Raphael, Auschwitz Deportiert

Germany is full of memorials of the Holocaust.

Some subtle, some not so subtle.

We were standing over these before we noticed them.  Three brass memorials in place of cobblestones on the sidewalk.  At an entrance to a courtyard where apparently the Raphael’s lived.

All deported to Auschwitz.

After we found their memorials, we found several more while walking through Kreuzberg.  A very multi-cultural, lively quarter of Berlin, chock full of clubs, bars and phenomenal food.

Definitely gives pause.

And if you’re interested in the Raphael genealogy, take a look here.

Mauer Path

Cobblestones marking the location of the Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany

Berliner Mauer

The Berliner Mauer is the German name for the Berlin Wall.

Quite a lot of history and quite a lot of emotion associated with that name.

Goddess and I made our first (of what will likely be several) trips to Berlin last weekend.  We had a long weekend, so we took advantage of the Intercity Express (ICE) trains, which are high speed, but thanks to connections and stops, still take about the same amount of time to get there.

But I’m fairly certain that the law frowns on me enjoying a beer while driving.  So we let the conductor do the driving.  But not really for that reason, although it is a nice reason.  We chose the train because when Goddess and I see a city, we see a city.

Mainly on foot.

Down back alleys.

Off the beaten path.

For 12-15 hours each day.

And that gets exhausting.  So throw a 5-6 hour drive on top of that and it’s almost too much.  So the train saves the day.

I’ve already started posting images from our trip and there will be plenty more to come.  In the three full days of canvassing the city, I shot “only” about 300 images, which is not much compared to previous trips.  By comparison, a three day trip to Kyoto, Japan was worth about 1,200 images.

Of course, not all are keepers.  But in both cases, I still came out with quite a few.

Mostly black and white.

Because that’s how I saw the city.

And if not black and white, the colors were very muted.  It must have been the cold, cloudy German winter days that helped generate that mood.  But I’m certain that the history had something to do with that too.

Here’s a four-shot image of the view out our very modern hotel room.  The stitching is sloppy, mainly thanks to the very wide 10mm lens.  But I’m sure I can get the point across.

If you look closely, you’ll see a brown line.  It’s actually a line of cobblestones, two wide.  And the line traces the route of the Berlin Wall.

Coming from the west, right down the middle of the street, before turning south into a field.

Berliner Mauer

So as I hung out the window and looked, I couldn’t help but think about what it was like 22+ years ago.

Our hotel was on what would have been on the East Berlin side, the apartment complex directly across would have been in the West Berlin sector.

So I was explaining to Goddess the image that I remember seeing as a kid, one where the father was holding up his very young baby in a window across the wall so that Grandmother, looking through a window and visible only as a silhouette, could see her grandchild.  It was likely the closest they ever got.

I sure wish I could find that image.  It’s not in Life Magazine’s archive.

But this one is in their archive and it captures the mood that I felt when leaning out the window into the cold winter air, watching the small snowflakes get whipped around in the wind.

Could you imagine living like that?

Be grateful for what you have.

Wow!

It still amazes me that I get paid to live here.

With thousands of years of history (although what you see in the image is since the 12th century AD), there’s always something new to learn and experience.  All you have to do is turn down an alley.

From left to right – the Heidelbergschlöss (Heidelberg Castle) up on the hill; the gateway to the Alte Brücke (Old Bridge), which I was standing on; then the Heiliggeistkirche (Holy Ghost Church, or Church of the Holy Spirit) just behind.

Corner Honey Table

There’s always a chance to make a buck.

Or in this case a euro.

Even if it’s only 24°F (-4°C).

Because someone will stop and look.  Perhaps buy.

Bad Wimpfen, Germany.  Off the beaten track, around the corner from the oldest Weinachtsmarkt in Germany (seit 1487).

I absolutely love that vine along the building.  I’m glad I saw it in winter, instead of during the summer when the leaves cover the entire house.