Sometimes it’s just about shapes.



OK, a lot of lines.

Goes back to a comment made about me several years ago – “Bill is a line whore”.

And I can’t deny that assertion.

Etz Chaim

Holocaust Memorial aka Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin, Germany.

Etz Chaim is the Jewish interpretation of the Tree of Life.  Very appropriate in this location.

Not quite the composition that I wanted, but there was a wire wastebasket immediately below this frame.  And the basket was firmly bolted to the ground.  So I had to work with what I had.

But at least I had that opportunity.


For a continuation of this post, based on comments below, please read this.

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.

Rose Memorial

Holocaust Memorial, Berlin, Germany

Holocaust Lines

Holocaust Memorial, Berlin, Germany.

Mr President

Only one word – Awesome.

Mr Lincoln

Snapped while taking a quick evening jaunt around just a few of the memorials.

To all of my friends in the DC area, sorry I couldn’t visit.  There just wasn’t any time.  From wheel’s up in Germany to touchdown was only 68 hours.  That may seem like a lot, but when you subtract 15 hours of flight time, work, etc., the only chance would have been the midnight-4am window.  But sleep was necessary too.  For all of us.

Even before this trip, Goddess and I had discussed a two-week visit to the area just so we can take in all of the sights.  But that will have to wait until after I retire.


Rainy Memorial

Wherever you travel in Germany and Austria, you cannot escape the reality that faced the Jews in the first half of the 20th Century.  Nor should you try.

Smack dab in the middle of the First District of Vienna is the Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial, which commemorates the lives of 65,000 Jews exterminated under the Nazi regime.  Beautiful in its simplicity, it stands out from the surrounding Baroque architecture.  Luckily it was right around the corner from our hotel, so I could go back and shoot it from different angles at different times of day and night.

This is my favorite image.

Rainy Memorial
Rainy Memorial

While some stop to reflect on the significance of the memorial, others go about their daily lives, whether it be walking or riding their bicycle.

BTW, the restaurant in the background served some incredible goose accompanied by rotkraut and knödel, paired beautifully with Ottakringer Zwickl Rot, a locally brewed unfiltered dark beer.

Faded Colors

While out searching for fall color to shoot, we went to a nearby German War Memorial.  And found something new.

Mind you, this is a memorial that I run through usually once a week.

Normally the run keeps us to the main path, so there’s little exploration.  But while walking slowing along the memorial, Goddess and I spied a small building tucked away in the bushes off to the side.  So we had a look.

Turns out that the building, which is actually a small circular, roofless memorial, is a gateway to a cemetery laid out in the forest.  This was quite a surprise, considering that for the past year and a half, I had run past just yards away and never noticed.

While all of the remains in the main memorial grounds are German veterans of World War I, this cemetery was solely for World War II veterans.  Compared to the WWI gravestones, which are laid out in orderly lines in long rows, this WWII grounds had pairs of crosses scattered about the grounds facing in different directions.  But the crosses weren’t the gravesites, as they did not have any names or dates or unit designations on them.  They were just there.

Instead, the head stones were nothing more than bricks with the veteran’s name and dates.  Other bricks had unit designations, presumably to mark where members of that unit were buried.

So while we set out to find some color (there was some), instead we found a place to reflect.

Just a few feet off the beaten path.

So while we did find color, it just wasn’t appropriate for these images.