Bavarian International School Trips to Berlin

Starting point: Munich central station. As can be seen when compared to the scene when Hitler welcomed Mussolini during the Munich conference of 1938, nearly the entire area was destroyed by bombing. (wait for GIFs to load)
Bavarian International School at the Brandenburg Gate
 Then and during my 2011 school trip

 Tourists posing in front of the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg gate in the British sector on June 6, 1989 and my students in 2013.
One of the most famous hotels before the war, hosting the likes of Chaplin in his heyday, it was used as an hospital during the war with a luxury bunker below, its ruins were destroyed with its new incarnation rebuilt in 1997, only very loosely inspired by the original, by Rainer Michael Klotz of Patzschke Klotz & Partners.
The famous Hotel Adlon which had  remained a social centre of the city throughout the Nazi period, though the Nazis themselves preferred the Hotel Kaiserhof a few blocks south and directly across from the Propaganda Ministry and Hitler's Chancellery on Wilhelmplatz. The Adlon continued to operate normally throughout World War II, even constructing a luxurious bomb shelter for its guests and a huge brick wall around the lobby level to protect the function rooms from flying debris. Parts of the hotel were converted to a military field hospital during the final days of the Battle of Berlin. The hotel survived the war without any major damage, having avoided the bombs and shelling that had levelled the city. However, on the night of May 2, 1945 a fire, started in the hotel's wine cellar by drunken Red Army soldiers, left the main building in ruins.
The Adlon was the hotel where Michael Jackson infamously dangled his baby out of the window of his room on the third floor, holding it with one arm under its shoulders in November, 2002
Beside the Adlon on the right is the former site of the Central Office of the Inspector General for Construction in the Reich Capital. Hitler had easy access to this building from his Chancellery which housed his 30 metre-long model for the reconstruction of Berlin:

The Reichstag
My 2016 class in front of the Reichstag, Germany's parliament in Berlin. The name together with its monumental size make most people associate Germany's neoclassical parliamentary building with the Nazis, but Hitler and his party have little history here. After hosting parliamentary sessions since 1894, one month after Hitler was appointed chancellor in January 1933, it was set on fire by Dutch communist Marinus van der Lubbe. In the years during which it abutted the Wall as a conference centre, West Berliners played football on its lawn, while later artist Christo famously wrapped it in cloth. It did not serve as parliament again until a reunited German government returned to Berlin in 1999. Renovated by Sir Norman Foster, this building is perhaps the most public federal building in the world through its glass-dome tourist attraction. On the rooftop, photographs documenting the building's history circle the rim above the parliament chamber. Two ramps spiral up the side of the dome, an engineering feat even more fascinating than the panoramic view from the top.

On February 27, 1933, the Reichstag caught fire. When the police arrived they found Marinus van der Lubbe on the premises. After being tortured by the Gestapo he confessed to starting the Reichstag Fire. However he denied that he was part of a Communist conspiracy. Hermann Goering refused to believe him and he ordered the arrest of several leaders of the German Communist Party (KPD). When Hitler heard the news about the fire he gave orders that all leaders of the German Communist Party should "be hanged that very night." Paul von Hindenburg vetoed this decision but did agree that Hitler should take "dictatorial powers". KPD candidates in the election were arrested and Hermann Goering announced that the Nazi Party planned "to exterminate" German communists.
On 23rd March, 1933, the German Reichstag passed the Enabling Bill. This banned the German Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party from taking part in future election campaigns. This was followed by Nazi officials being put in charge of all local government in the provinces (7th April), trades unions being abolished, their funds taken and their leaders put in prison (2nd May), and a law passed making the Nazi Party the only legal political party in Germany (14th July).
More Soviet soldiers died getting from where I'm standing to get the picture of the Soviet standard on the roof for Stalin than the British, Canadians and Americans who died storming the beaches at Normandy. The Reichstag had been seen as symbolic of, and at the heart of, the "fascist beast." It was arguably the most symbolic target in Berlin.  On 30 April there was great pressure from Stalin to take the building, in time for the International Workers' Day, May 1.
The most costly photograph ever taken showing Mikhail Yegorov and Meliton Kantaria of the 756th Rifle Regiment raising a handmade Soviet flag over the Reichstag.  Initially, two planes dropped several large red banners on the roof that appeared to have caught on the bombed-out dome. Additionally, a number of reports had reached headquarters that two parties, M. M. Bondar from the 380th Rifle Regiment and Captain V. N. Makov of the 756th might have been able to hoist a flag during the day of 30 April. These reports were received by Marshal Zhukov, who issued an announcement stating that his troops had captured the Reichstag and hoisted a flag. However, when correspondents arrived, they found no Soviets in the building, but rather they were pinned down outside by German fire. After fierce fighting both outside and inside the building, a flag was raised at 22:40 on April 30, when 23-year-old Rakhimzhan Qoshqarbaev climbed the building and inserted a flag into the crown of the mounted female statue of "Germania", symbolising Germany. As this happened at night, it was too dark to take a photograph. The next day the flag was taken down by the Germans. The Red Army finally gained control of the entire building on May 2. 

Stasi Museum

At the newly-renovated Stasi Museum located in the former headquarters of the Stasi (officially the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit), on Ruschestraße 103, near Frankfurter Allee at U-Bahn Station Magdalenenstrasse Line U5. The building was erected in 1960-61 as the offices of Erich Mielke, who served as Minister for State Security from 1957 until the end of the DDR. The entire block is a series of grey labyrinthine buildings, all hunched catastrophically together. A city within a city, the Stasi offices came complete with a movie theatre, canteen, a supermarket – and were surrounded by apartment buildings housing the people the Stasi liked to keep a close and paranoid eye on. My students from the Bavarian International School are shown at the entrance which served as the main building, Haus 1. It is home to Mielke's recently opened office and looks exactly how you'd expect it to look: carved busts of Marx and Lenin lining the hallways and the foyer, brown marble columns, off-white almost yellow walls, tacky gold-coloured railings.  Whereas the first and third floors host a series of exhibitions about survivors of the DDR regime, methods of surveillance, propaganda and general history, the second floor was entirely Mielke's.
Bavarian International School students in 2014 and 2016 when the outdoor exhibition opened.

Mielke's personal study then and today, almost perfectly preserved as it was. There's a bed, a small kitchen and a bathroom, which suggests that Mielke must have spent the vast amount of his time working, rarely going home to his wife and son.   Mielke served his post until the wall fell. On November 9, when the wall was accidentally declared "open" at that famous press conference which changed history, the Stasi freaked out and started destroying files as everyday citizens rushed the Stasi offices and demanded to see what had been written about them.  Mielke was kicked out of the party on December 3, almost certainly an attempt by the communists to wash their hands of those who committed unspeakable crimes. No longer shielded by his fancy role in the corrupt government, Mielke was arrested for the murder of the two policemen back in 1931.  In 1992 he was sentence to six years in prison, and served four of those six years at the Moabit prison before being released for medical reasons. Mielke, his lawyers argued, was senile and had forgotten what he had done.
File card depicting exactly how Erich Mielke wanted his breakfast served
It was from this office here that Mielke commanded a staff that grew from 2,700 at the time of the organisation’s formation in the 1950s to around 91,000 in 1989.  As a consequence of the economic problems of the DDR, Mielke initiated a hiring freeze in 1983, otherwise the ranks would surely have swelled further. Here is his desk, which features his phone, a chair, wood-panelled cupboards (everything is wood-panelled), and a shredder, an ominous nod to the frantic efforts of the Stasi to shred secret documents of the citizens they spied on for an entire generation. There are a series of meeting rooms throughout with fancy worn maps hanging on the walls, long tables, comfortable bright blue chairs, and a secretary's desk complete with a telephone switchboard with oversized comical buttons like the kind you'd see in an old James Bond movie.
Beside the statue of (Iron) Felix Dzerzhinsky on the three separate visits to the museum. Dzerzhinsky is best known for establishing and developing the Soviet secret police forces, serving as their director from 1917 to 1926. Later he was a member of the Soviet government heading several commissariats, whilst being the chief of the Soviet secret police. The Cheka soon became notorious for mass summary executions, performed especially during the Red Terror and the Russian Civil War

On the first floor- the command centre- of the former headquarters of the Stasi (officially the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit), on Ruschestraße, near Frankfurter Allee. The building was erected in 1960-61 as the offices of Erich Mielke, who served as Minister for State Security from 1957 until the end of the DDR. Students are walking down the corridor to the office and working quarters of Mielke.  On 15 January 1990 demonstrators took over the Stasi headquarters. A week later, the Central Round Table, a committee made up of representatives of the SED dictatorship and civil rights groups, decided that a “memorial and research centre on GDR Stalinism” should be established in House 1. When nothing came of this declaration of intent, members of the Berlin citizens’ committee and other civil rights activists took action and began securing the historic site. In August they founded the association “Antistalinistische Aktion e.V.” (ASTAK). On 7 November 1990, it opened the Research Centre and Memorial at Normannenstrasse with an exhibition titled “Against the Sleep of Reason”. House 1, later named the Stasi Museum, has been open to the public ever since. The offices of Erich Mielke are preserved in their original condition and form the centrepiece of the historic site. The museum today serves as a "centre for the collection, preservation, documentation, rehabilitation and exhibition of evidence and research materials relating to East Germany".
Alex and Patrick beside the Berlin Wall on Bergstraße 

Cycling along the former site of the wall

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas)

Aerial photo of the Memorial site
Standing among the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin, designed by architect Peter Eisenman and engineers Buro Happold and consisting of a 19,000 square metre site covered with 2,711 stelae arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field. The stelae are 7.8' long, 3' 1.5" wide and vary in height from 0.2m to 4.8m (8" to 15'9") and were designed to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere; a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason. A 2005 copy of the Foundation for the Memorial's official English tourist pamphlet, however, states that the design represents a radical approach to the traditional concept of a memorial, partly because Eisenman did not use any symbolism. An attached underground "Place of Information" holds the names of all known Jewish Holocaust victims, obtained from the Israeli museum Yad Vashem. They are found underground- not marked prominently, not easy to find, and not integral to the display.
Richard Brody in The New Yorker argues that without knowing beforehand, it would be impossible to know what the structure is meant to commemorate; there’s nothing about these concrete slabs that signifies any of the words of the title, except, perhaps, “memorial”—insofar as some of them, depending on their height, may resemble either headstones or sarcophagi. So it’s something to do with death. And as for the title itself—which murdered Jews? When? Where? Does the list include Rosa Luxemburg, who was killed in Berlin by rightist thugs in 1919, or the foreign minister Walther Rathenau, also killed here by rightist thugs, in 1922? Or Isaac Babel and Osip Mandelstam, who died in Soviet captivity? Or, pardon my sarcasm, Claude Lanzmann’s uncle, who was killed in Paris by his jealous mistress? The title doesn’t say “Holocaust” or “Shoah”; in other words, it doesn’t say anything about who did the murdering or why—there’s nothing along the lines of “by Germany under Hitler’s regime,” and the vagueness is disturbing. Of course, the information is familiar, and few visitors would be unaware of it, but the assumption of this familiarity—the failure to mention it at the country’s main memorial for the Jews killed in the Holocaust—separates the victims from their killers and leaches the moral element from the historical event, shunting it to the category of a natural catastrophe. The reduction of responsibility to an embarrassing, tacit fact that “everybody knows” is the first step on the road to forgetting.

Reich Aviation Ministry
The building provided the backdrop to the film Valkyrie

Reich Aviation Ministry (Goering's HQ). It remains the only major surviving public building in the Wilhelmstrasse from the Nazi era at Wilhelmstraße 81-85, south of the Leipziger Strasse, a huge edifice built on the orders of Hermann Göring between 1933 and 1936 based on a design by Ernst Sagebiel, who shortly afterwards rebuilt Tempelhof Airport on a similarly gigantic scale. One writer has described it as "in the typical style of National Socialist intimidation architecture." It ran for more than 250 metres along Wilhelmstraße, partly on the site of the former Prussian War Ministry that had dated from 1819, and covered the full length of the block between Prinz-Albrecht-Straße and Leipziger Straße, even running along Leipziger Straße itself to join on to the Prussian Herrenhaus, the former Upper House of the Prussian Parliament. It comprised a reinforced concrete skeleton with an exterior facing of limestone and travertine (a form of marble). With its seven storeys and total floor area of 112,000 sq m, 2,800 rooms, 7 km of corridors, over 4,000 windows, 17 stairways, and with the stone coming from no fewer than 50 quarries, the vast building served the growing bureaucracy of the Luftwaffe, plus Germany’s civil aviation authority which was also located there. Yet it took only 18 months to build, the army of labourers working double shifts and Sundays. The first 1,000 rooms were handed over in October 1935 after just eight months' construction. When finally completed, 4,000 bureaucrats and their secretaries were employed within its walls. This building escaped major damage during the war. As one of the few intact government buildings in central Berlin, it was occupied by the Council of Ministers of the new German Democratic Republic in 1949. As such it was at the centre of the popular demonstrations during the workers' uprising of June 17, 1953.
Hitler at the site in 1935 and Göring during the Tag der Luftwaffe on March 1, 1938.
The central Monument in memory of the 1953 Uprising in the East German Democratic Republic is represented by a groundfloor relief, surrounded by a low barrier, created by Wolfgang Rüppel. The groundfloor monument, in Leipziger Straße at the corner of Wilhelmstraße in front of the Federal Ministry of Finance (officially named the Detlev-Rohwedder-Haus) and an older wall-mounted plaque on the façade itself. Remarkably, Max Lingner's 3- metre by 24-metre long mural "Aufbau der Republik" (Building the Republic) is allowed to remain in situ. (Photos from my 2012 school trip on the anniversary of the uprising). After the war, the slightly damaged building of the RLM was initially used by the Soviet military administration (SMAD). Later, the German Economic Commission (DWK) and then the State Plank Commission and the Economics Council of the GDR obtained parts of the building. It served as the meeting place of the German People's Council, which on October 7, 1949 founded the DDR by establishing the constitution and established itself as a provisional Volkskammer. After the establishment of the DDR, various trade ministries of the economy were accommodated in the complex. The building was now officially designated as the House of Ministries.
Between the years 1950 and 1953 the monumental painting portrait and landscape painter Lingner in the northeastern pillar precinct replaced the previous large-format stone relief of marching soldiers of the Wehrmacht with the weaving hook crosses of the sculptor Arnold Waldschmidt shown above incorporating tiles from Meissner porcelain were created. The image of a restrained new beginning after the war originally conceived by the artist was revised several times at the request of the President of the Council of States, Walter Ulbricht and the Prime Minister, Otto Grotewohl, in order to present an euphoric departure of the working class. Lingner had had to revise it no fewer than five times, so that it ultimately bore little resemblance to the first draft. Originally based on family scenes, the final version had a more sinister look about it, a series of jovial set-pieces with an almost military undertone, people in marching poise and with fixed, uniform smiles on their faces. Lingner hated it (as well as Grotewohl's interference) and refused to look at it when going past. With a degree of irony, the building became the focal point a year later of the Uprising of 1953 in East Germany when, on June 17, 1953 a demonstration took place in front of the building. Today, the "monument to the events of the seventeenth of June nineteen hundred fifty-three", designed by Wolfgang Rüppel serves to commemorate the first demonstration against Soviet rule in the Eastern bloc.

Topography of Terror
On an empty field between Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse (now renamed Niederkirchnerstrasse), Wilhelmstrasse and Anhalter Strasse is the site where the Gestapo set up its offices its house gaol on Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse 8. In November 1934 the 'Security Service of the Reich ϟϟ Leader' (SD) under Heydrich moved his office here where the central institutions of Nazi persecution and terror – the Secret State Police Office with its own “house prison,” the leadership of the ϟϟ and, during the Second World War, the Reich Security Main Office – were located. Here Himmler, Heydrich, Kaltenbrunner and their assistants had their desks and decided "on the persecution of political opponents, the Germanisation of occupied territories in Poland and the Soviet Union, the murder of Soviet prisoners of war and the genocide of the European Jews." This is where the Einsatzgruppen had been assembled and where the Wannsee Conference was prepared. "There is no other site where terror and murder were planned and organised on the same scale." (
The buildings that housed the Gestapo and ϟϟ headquarters were largely destroyed by Allied bombing during early 1945 and the ruins demolished after the war. The boundary between the American and Soviet zones of occupation in Berlin ran along the Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse, so the street soon became a fortified boundary, and the Berlin Wall ran along the south side of the street, renamed Niederkirchnerstrasse, from 1961 to 1989. The wall itself was never removed from the site, and the section adjacent to the Topography of Terror site is the second-longest segment still in place (after the East Side Gallery in Friedrichshain). 
Excavated cells from the basement of the Gestapo headquarters in 1948 and today showing images of political prisoners from the Gestapo archives.

The Ministry for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda (Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda – RMVP), was established by a presidential decree, signed on March 12, 1933 and promulgated on the following day, which defined the task of the new ministry as the dissemination of ‘enlightenment and propaganda within the population concerning the policy of the Reich Government and the national reconstruction of the German Fatherland’. In June Hitler was to define the scope of the RMVP in even more general terms, making Goebbels responsible for the ‘spiritual direction of the nation’. Not only did this vague directive provide Goebbels with room to out-manoeuvre his critics within the Party; it also put the seal of legitimacy on what was soon to be the ministry’s wholesale control of the mass-media. Nevertheless, Goebbels was constantly involved in quarrels with ministerial colleagues who resented the encroachment of this new ministry on their old domain.
The part of the building visible behind the students is the Marschall House, converted by Karl Reichle in 1934 to serve as the entrance area to the Ministry of Propaganda. The walled up archways and windows of today were originally passageways to the main building of the Ministry of Propaganda.
The bronze statue of Leopold I shown on the right was replaced in 2005 to its current location
War correspondents are shown are shown the grave where Hitler's charred body was alleged to be buried, Berlin 1945 – 2016
Stalin had been informed by Zhukov that Hitler had committed suicide on 30 April. His body and that of his new wife Eva Braun had been dug up in the garden, in the spot designated by Admiral Voss. As the Smersh soldiers were not certain that they had the right bodies, they reburied them, only finally exhuming them on May 5, when together with the bodies of the Goebbels children, the chief of staff General Krebs and a couple of dogs, they were sent to their HQ at Berlin-Buch as important trophies. The autopsies were performed the next day. Contradictory evidence made the officers concerned reluctant to send in a final report on the cause of Hitler’s death. The Soviet authorities preferred the version that had him taking poison – a cowardly way out. Shooting oneself was a braver, more soldierly death.
 The two Breker statues which stood outside the Reich Chancellery, with me standing beside  Sword Bearer now in a different location

Checking out Mohrenstrasse Underground station
When East Berlin fell under communist administration after the Second World War, the Wilhelmplatz square as well as the station were renamed on 18 August 1950 to Thälmannplatz, after the communist leader Ernst Thälmann. With the erection of the Berlin Wall from 13 August 1961, the line ceased to run between East and West Berlin and the station became the terminus of the line in East Berlin. As in the 1980s the square was overbuilt by a housing estate and the Czechoslovak embassy, the station on 15 April 1986 was renamed Otto-Grotewohl-Straße, the name of the Wilhelmstraße at that time, after the politician Otto Grotewohl. On 3 October 1991, following German reunification, the station was renamed Mohrenstraße.

On April 6, 1933, the Main Office for Press and Propaganda of the German Student Association (Deutsche Studentenschaft) proclaimed a nationwide "Action against the Un-German Spirit", to climax in a literary purge or "cleansing" ("Säuberung") by fire. Local chapters were to supply the press with releases and commissioned articles, sponsor well-known Nazi figures to speak at public gatherings, and negotiate for radio broadcast time. On April 8 the students association also drafted its Twelve Theses, deliberately evoking Martin Luther; the theses declared and outlined a "pure" national language and culture. Placards publicized the theses, which attacked "Jewish intellectualism", asserted the need to "purify" German language and literature, and demanded that universities be centres of German nationalism. The students described the "action" as a response to a worldwide Jewish "smear campaign" against Germany and an affirmation of traditional German values.
In front of the the Royal Library, now the seat of the Faculty of Law, is this memorial by Micha Ullmann. When viewed at an angle, one can see empty shelves capable of holding 20,000 books. When viewed from above, all one sees is their own reflection. Both views are meant to remind us of the events that transpired and the people responsible for them.

In 1821, Heinrich Heine, a German poet of Jewish origin, had written in his play Almansor:
"Wo Bücher brennen, da brennen bald auch Menschen."
(Where they burn books, people will be burned last.)

Across the street is the statue of Hermann von Helmholtz in front of the main building of the university, the entrance of which is little changed from the time it was the setting for a Nazi rally.

 At about midnight a torchlight parade of thousands of students ended at a square on Unter den Linden opposite the University of Berlin. Torches were put to a huge pile of books that had been gathered there, and as the flames enveloped them more books were thrown on the fire until some twenty thousand had been consumed. Similar scenes took place in several other cities. The book burning had begun. Many of the books tossed into the flames in Berlin that night by the joyous students under the approving eye of Dr. Goebbels had been written by authors of world reputation. They included, among German writers, Thomas and Heinrich Mann, Lion Feuchtwanger, Jakob Wassermann, Arnold and Stefan Zweig, Erich Maria Remarque, Walther Rathenau, Albert Einstein, Alfred Kerr and Hugo Preuss, the last named being the scholar who had drafted the Weimar Constitution. But not only the works of dozens of German writers were burned. A good many foreign authors were also included: Jack London, Upton Sinclair, Helen Keller, Margaret Sanger, H. G. Wells, Havelock Ellis, Arthur Schnitzler, Freud, Gide, Zola, Proust. In the words of a student proclamation, any book was condemned to the flames ”which acts subversively on our future or strikes at the root of German thought, the German home and the driving forces of our people.” Dr. Goebbels, the new Propaganda Minister, who from now on was to put German culture into a Nazi strait jacket, addressed the students as the burning books turned to ashes. ”The soul of the German people can again express itself. These flames not only illuminate the final end of an old era; they also light up the new.”
 Shirer (213-214)
St. Hedwig's Cathedral at the back of Bebelplatz, built in the 18th century as the first Catholic church in Prussia by permission of King Frederick II. Lichtenberg was later jailed by the Nazis and died on the way to the concentration camp at Dachau. 
It was here after Reichskristallnacht that Father Bernhard Lichtenberg, a canon of the cathedral chapter of St Hedwig since 1931, publicly prayed for the Jews at Vespers services. In addition, he protested in person to Nazi officials the arrest and killing of the sick and mentally ill as well as the persecution of the Jews. At first, the Nazis dismissed the priest as a nuisance. Father Lichtenberg was warned that he was in danger of being arrested for his activities, but he continued nonetheless. Deploring the regime of concentration camps like that of Dachau, he organized demonstrations against them outside certain camps.  In 1942, Lichtenberg protested against the euthanasia programme by way of a letter to the chief physician of the Reich. He was arrested and condemned to prison. Because he was considered incorrigible, he was sent to the Dachau concentration camp, but collapsed and died whilst in transit, on November 5, 1943. His tomb is situated here in the crypt after his remains were transferred in 1965.
Behind is the Gendarmenmarkt, the site of the Konzerthaus and the French and German Cathedrals, all of which were left in ruins after the war.
It is when comparing the Deutscher Dom then and now that it becomes evident. On the right is the Französischer Dom, shown on fire after bombing in 1944. In 1936 the Nazis removed the ornamental gardens in front of the theatre and replaced them with the square stones still seen today. The square was then used as a parade square for propaganda rallies.
On the steps of the Deutscher Dom.
On April 20, 1939 for Hitler's 50th birthday with the 1.Kompanie ϟϟ Adolf Hitler en guarde

Originally built as a guardhouse for the troops of the Crown Prince of Prussia, the building has been used as a war memorial since 1931. The Nazis used it as an Hall of Fame for Heroes.
As it appeared in 1945 and during my 2011 and 2016 school tours

Next to the Neue Wache is the Zeughaus- the former armoury and now part of the national museum.  Hitler speaking in the Zeughaus courtyard March 1941 and Cristina, Alex, Leon and Patrick at the site today, minus the staircase. It was in this courtyard that Hitler, after his speech, was scheduled to spend half an hour examining an exhibition of captured Russian war trophies which Gersdorff’s staff had arranged. It was the only place where the colonel could get close enough to the Fuehrer to assassinate Hitler Goering, Himmler and Keitel when they were due to be present at the Heroes’ Memorial Day (Heldengedenktag) ceremonies on March 21, 1943 at the Zeughaus. Here was an opportunity to get not only the Führer but his chief associates. As Colonel Freiherr von Gersdorff, chief of intelligence on Kluge’s staff, later said, ”This was a chance which would never recur.” He had been selected to handle the bomb, and this time it would have to be a suicidal mission where the colonel would conceal in his overcoat pockets two bombs, set the fuses, stay as close to Hitler during the ceremony as possible and blow the Fuehrer and his entourage as well as himself up. On the evening of March 20 he met with Schlabrendorff in his room at the Eden Hotel in Berlin. Schlabrendorff had brought two bombs with ten- minute fuses. But because of the near-freezing temperature in the glassed-over courtyard of the Zeughaus it might take from fifteen to twenty minutes before the weapons exploded.
The Kaiser Friedrich Museum (now Bodemuseum) and during our 2016 school trip
The Stadtschloß, serving as the principal winter residence of the Hohenzollerns, was damaged by Allied bombing in the war . Although possible to repair at great expense, the palace was demolished in 1950 by the German Democratic Republic authorities, despite West German protests. Following the reunification of Germany, it was decided to rebuild the Stadtschloß which, as seen in our class's photograph on the right for comparison, is still ongoing. In both photographs can be seen in the foreground the granite bowl with its diameter of twenty feet which was created by Christian Gottlieb Cantian in the late 1820s out of a single glacial boulder. It had been commissioned for the Altes Museum's courtyard  but ended up being too large to fit inside the museum forcing Schinkel to create the base for it to stand permanently in the lustgarten.
It was from the palace that Karl Liebknecht heralded a ‘‘free socialist Republic’’ on November 9 (Philipp Scheidemann had already proclaimed ‘‘the German Republic’’ from the Reichstag) before helping to found the Spartacus League two days later.

The Berliner Dom festooned with swastikas with a giant maypole in front from private photographs taken by a Norwegian tourist in 1937 and me at the site in 2011. 
In the Götterdämmerung of the Third Reich the Germans threw everything and the kitchen sink into the final battle, including two Great War era British Mark V tanks hauled out of the Altes Museum and used for the city's defence shown here and during my 2011 Bavarian International School trip. The results were predictable. Historians believe they weren't captured during the Great War, but actually captured during the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. During the Russian Civil War, the British supplied the anti-Bolshevik forces with arms, including the latest in tank technology. The Bolsheviks captured these tanks and put them in a museum celebrating their victory, and when the Germans invaded they captured the museum and hauled the tanks out and brought them to their own museum in Berlin. Then in 1945 they were once again used against the Bolsheviks. 
A more mundane explanation might be the fact that after the French capitulation leaving the British to fight fascism alone, the Armistice Carriage that served both to mark Germany's Great War humiliation and which later was used by Hitler to accept the French surrender. Perhaps other Great War-era relics were displayed here. As of yet, no identification of the serial number visible on one of the tanks has been achieved.
Hitler in front of the Dom during the 1932 national election and after the war with two members of the Red Army; during our 2016 school trip.

Bahnhof Friedrichstraße from Berlin in Bildern, published in 1938, and today.
At the end of January, between 40,ooo and 5o,ooo refugees were arriving in Berlin each day, mainly by train. The capital of the Reich did not welcome its victims. `The Friedrichstrasse Bahnhof has become the transit point of Germany's fate,' an eyewitness wrote. `Each new train that comes in unloads a mass of amorphous suffering on to the platform.' In their misery, they may not have noticed the sign there which proclaimed, `Dogs and Jews are not allowed to use the escalator!' Soon energetic measures were taken by the German Red Cross to push refugees on from the Anhalter Bahnhof as quickly as possible, or to force trains to go round Berlin. The authorities were afraid of `infectious diseases such as typhus' and an epidemic in the capital. Other illnesses that they feared the refugees would spread were dysentery, paratyphus, diphtheria and scarlet fever. 
Beevor (48-49) The Fall of Berlin 1945

Outside Friedrichstraße station at the intersection of Georgenstraße and Friedrichstraße is this bronze statue representing the contrasting fate of children during the Nazi era by architect and sculptor Frank Meisler, who travelled himself with a 1939 children's transport from Berlin-Friedrichstraße to England. Five figures in grey look to one side, symbolising the suffering of those deported to concentration camps to meet an early demise. Two lighter bronze figures gaze in the other direction representing those Jewish children whose lives were saved by the Kindertransport to England.  More than two million children lost their lives from 1933 to 1945 through the tyranny of the Nazis. London stockbroker Nicholas Winton, moved by the fate of Jewish refugees, worked with his fellow Britons to bring the first rescued children to the United Kingdom. These Kindertransporte were an attempt to protect the youngest victims of the Nazi dictatorship. These rescue missions allowed some 10,000 Jewish children from Germany, Austria, Poland and Czechoslovakia to escape deportation and find refuge in children's homes or with English families in London.  The first train left Berlin's Friedrichstraße station with 196 children on board on November 30, 1938.
Friedrichstadt Palast around the turn of the century when it served as a military barracks dating from the 1760s and today. When taking school groups I've tended to use Baxpax hostel around the corner at Ziegelstrasse 28. Named after Felix Yurievich Ziegel, Soviet researcher, Doctor of Science and docent of Cosmology at the Moscow Aviation Institute and generally regarded as a founder of Russian ufology, like many streets reflecting the military connections around the area- Artillerienstrasse, Dragonerstrasse, Grenadierstrasse- its original name had been purged and replaced by worthy left-wingers by the DDR regime.

 The Wannsee Conference was convened on 20 January 1942 by the second-highest ranking ϟϟ leader Reinhard Heydrich in a luxurious villa taken over by the ϟϟ in the wealthy Berlin suburb of Wannsee. Its purpose was to announce the launching of the “final solution” of the Jewish question in Europe to leading government and party bureaucrats and to secure their cooperation in this project. Historians have not been able to determine with absolute certainty just when Hitler made the decision for systematic genocide. On 31 July 1941, six weeks after the ϟϟ Einsatzgruppen began murdering Soviet Jews in coordination with “Operation Barbarossa,” Heydrich was delegated the task of drawing up plans for “a total solution of the Jewish question in the German sphere of influence in Europe”. It seems almost certain that he was given the green light to implement these plans by October 1941, when Jewish emigration was prohibited throughout Europe and preparations for the deportation of German Jews were put into place. Euthanasia “experts” had already been transferred to occupied Poland to set up the facilities for mass killings by poison gas. The ruthless racial and ideological war against the Soviet Union provided the conditions under which a systematic extermination program could be launched without generating wide publicity.

Of the fourteen participants invited and sat around this table discussing the logistics of mass murder, eight held doctorates or comparable university degrees.
Commonwealth War Grave Cemetery, Berlin
My students on our 2013 Berlin trip
The Commonwealth War Grave Cemetery where my great-grandfather is buried.Of the wartime burials, about 80% are aircrew, killed in action over Germany whilst the remainder are prisoners of war. I have another site dedicated to the CWGCs of Ypres and the Somme at Echoes of War.
The Jewish Synagogue, shown three years after the war and today, was miraculously saved from destruction during Kristallnacht by- it was claimed at the time- the chief of the local police station, Wilhelm Krutzfeld. When he arrived at the scene, he presented the building charter showing that the synagogue had been opened by Otto von Bismark himself. Mindful of Hitler's admiration of Bismark, the forger of modern-day Germany, the mob dispersed and a fire brigade was able to save the building from destruction.  Since 1993 the training institute of the Landespolizei Schleswig-Holstein bears the name "Landespolizeischule Wilhelm Krützfeld". In fact, Heinz Knobloch had popularised the story that Wilhelm Krützfeld rescued the New Synagogue after having learned about the rescue from the report of an eyewitness, the late Hans Hirschberg. Hirschberg, a boy in 1938, observed the fire with his father, the tailor Siegmund Hirschberg, and recalled that his father and a police officer, who was one of his father's clients and whom Hans assumed to be the head of the police precinct, got into a conversation whilst the police officer was supervising the work of the fire brigade, about their experiences in the same sector of the front in World War I. When Knobloch did research for his book Der beherzte Reviervorsteher about the rescue of the New Synagogue, he learned that the head of the precinct was Krützfeld and identified him as the officer. But Krützfeld was never conscripted in that war. After Knobloch's book appeared another neighbour, Inge Held, Hirschberg, and Hirschberg's sister in Israel all confirmed that the rescuer was in fact Otto Bellgardt. Senior Lieutenant Wilhelm Krützfeld, head of the local police precinct and Bellgardt's superior, later covered up for him. Berlin's police commissioner Graf Helldorf only verbally reprimanded Krützfeld for doing so and has since often been mistakenly identified as the rescuer of the New Synagogue.
Treptower Park

The most impressive monument to the Red Army is the vast war memorial and military cemetery in Berlin, built between 1946-1949 to commemorate the 20,000 Soviet soldiers who fell in the battle of Berlin in April-May 1945 in the heart of Treptower Park close to the former East Berlin's embassy quarters. In fact, it remains perhaps the only public display of a swastika in Berlin, albeit in the process of being smashed (although it is illegal to display any Nazi symbol here in Germany, even for anti-fascist purposes).
The entrance, 200 metres long and 100 metres wide leads to six bronze-cast wreaths measuring around ten metres in diameter.Beside the pathways friezes have been erected with reliefs displaying war scenes and historical moments. On each of these is a quote from Stalin.

The most spectacular element of the memorial is towering up in the rear end of the park on a grassy hill. It is a mausoleum on which a ten to twelve metre high bronze statue is placed depicting a bareheaded, heroic, Soviet soldier wielding a sword and standing on a smashed swastika, into which the sword is deeply cut. On his left arm he is carrying a child while staring out over the plaza. This sculpture, "Der Erreer" by Jewgeni Wuchetich, stands on a double conical base 12 metres high and weighing 70 tonnes.   The statue rises above a walk-in pavilion built on a hill. In the dome of the pavilion is a mosaic with a circulating Russian inscription and a German translation. This mosaic was one of the first important orders in the post-war period for the August Wagner company which combined workshops for mosaic and glass painting in Berlin-Neukölln . The hill itself is modelled after a "Kurgan" (mediæval, Slavic tombs on the Don plain), often found in Soviet memorials such as those at Volgograd, Smolensk, Minsk, Kiev, Odessa and Donetsk. On top marks the outstanding endpoint of the 10-hectare complex.  The sculptor himself emphasised in several interviews that the representation of the soldier with a child saved had a purely symbolic meaning and not a precise incident. However, in the DDR the narrative of sergeant Nikolay Ivanovich Massov, who had brought a little girl near the Potsdamer bridge to safety on April 30, 1945 during the storming of the Reichskanzlei, was widely circulated. In his honour, a memorial plaque was erected on this bridge over the Landwehrkanal and for a long time he was regarded as the model of the Treptow soldier. The model for the bronze figure was the Soviet soldier Ivan Odartschenko. Another version claims that the monument is modelled on the heroic deed of the Soviet soldier and former worker of the Minsker Radiowerkes T. A. Lukyanovich, who paid for the salvation of a little girl in Berlin with his life. The source for this version is the book Berlin 896 km by Soviet journalist and writer Boris Polewoi.

I'm standing beside one of sixteen white sarcophagi of limestone that stand along the outer boundary of the field leading to the statue. This one shows Lenin on a red banner that flies behind the Soviet Red Army. The side has a quote embossed in gold by Stalin. These sarcophagi are marked on the two longitudinal sides with reliefs from the history of the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Peoples, bearing quotations from Joseph Stalin in Russian on the left and in German on the right. The individual sarcophagi have specific themes: the attack by the Germans, the destruction and suffering in the Soviet Union, the sacrifice and abandonment of the Soviet people and support of the army, the suffering of the army, victory, and heroic death.