Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Communism "Stinks"

I’ve had a great start to my week in Berlin. Monday we visited the German Bundestag and Bundesrat (lower and upper houses of parliament). Both buildings are architecturally very dynamic—mixing the old and the very new.

We also met with a professor at the Humboldt University to discuss law in Germany. Our group leader commented that the building smelled like the old East Berlin. I guess this proves that Communism stinks! (sorry weak joke!)

Tuesday turned out to be another fascinating day for my inner international affairs geek! We started the day with a visit to the Memorial the Murdered Jews of Europe. The memorial is made up of more than 2700 concrete blocks at varying heights. The idea is that one can enter the memorial from any side and the number and placement of the blocks do not represent anything. It is up to the individual visitor to have take out of the experience what she wants. Underneath there is an information center/museum. What made the visit interesting and horrifying was when one of the Russian fellows started questioning our guide (who was a museum curator) about the memorial’s portrayal of Russia in the war and after. The discussion was also difficult because people needed time to digest content of the information center. While I did not find it to be as moving as the Holocaust Museum in DC, it was still very powerful.

After the memorial we met with the deputy editor of Die Welt, one of the largest newspapers in Germany. He had some unique perspectives on the upcoming election, but the discussion really got rolling when the Russians started debating the German-Russian relationship and how it will change if Angela Merkel (the conservative challenger who is from the former East) becomes chancellor. As one person was extolling the virtues of Russia, someone else was telling about her grandmother who lived in one of the Baltic States who was sent to Siberia to a work camp—quite a hot topic! The Americans sat around the table in quiet shock.

P.S. I saw Cheryl Crow on a German (maybe Austrian) variety show on Tuesday night and she didn’t know American the Beautiful—totally embarrassing!


At 11:19 AM, Anonymous Tanya said...

Things are sounding pretty tense. How does the memorial portray Russia? Anyway, glad to see another posting. Can't wait for Berlin pics!

At 11:59 AM, Anonymous Dylan Goldblatt said...

Hi Erin,

I was looking for other Berliners among the blog networks and I stumbled into you. I am an American student from William and Mary studying the way German social politics address the issue of homelessness, and the homeless identity and subculture. I am also writing a book about Eminem (I am very interested in the poetic devices used in his rap flow). I thought that maybe you might want to hang out after you get settled, or even stay at my place (I have an extra bed) instead of paying for the pricey hotel until you can find a room. My flickr page is

I don't normally extend my hand to total internet strangers, but I think that we are in a very similar situation after just having arrived in Berlin, so I thought it would be good to drop you a line. Plus I have a high speed DSL flat rate.


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