My parents came to Berlin!
In fact, it was their first time to Europe! Working hard and raising their family, they never had the time or resources to travel, so it was incredibly special to have them here. Although my dad only has a one week spring break, they said jet lag be damned and had a jam packed trip.
It’s always fun to get the perspective of fresh eyes on things I’ve begun to take for granted. My dad marveled at the myriad cranes you see hovering over the city, constantly constructing and changing. However, I barely notice these massive construction sites that have become a permanent fixture upon my mental picture of Berlin. My parents are also careful sign readers, and I was constantly reminded of little details and facts that add to a rich understanding of the city’s history. Adamant about visiting Sachsenhausen, we all made the trek to the concentration camp. It was an appropriately gloomy, drizzly cold day. Listening to the detailed audio guide, we trudged through the barracks, execution sites and soviet special camp.
Beyond the gruesome exhibitions and personal stories of the Holocaust, the camp is fascinating for its administration after 1945. Once a memorial, the DDR made some problematic decisions and interpretations of the camp’s history offering another twisted perspective upon Sachsenhausen. Generally, the Communist German Democratic Republic failed in “Vergangenheitsbewältigung” or “coming to terms with the past”. Declaring itself de-Nazified and pure, the country essentially abjured responsibility for the crimes of National Socialism. At Sachsenhausen, the DDR emphasized the suffering of political opponents, like communists, rather than other groups.
Additionally, the DDR painted an idealized picture of itself as a communist nation, so the history of the Soviet special camp went undocumented until the fall of East Germany, and the discovery of mass graves in the Soviet camp led to the construction of a special exhibit on this period of time. After that harrowing experience, we lightened things up a bit. We walked around Schloss Charlottenburg, and went in to explore Mitte. We worked on our selfie skills. My mom got in touch with her German roots, and pointed out all of the adorable doxies out and about. My parents are huge Olympic nerds, so naturally we took a tour of the Olympiastadion.
After Kylie returned from Berlin, she showed her pictures off to the parents. My dad’s interest was most piqued by a photo of big PC on an enormous bench. Anything that makes PC seem small is worth a look I suppose. Although we warned my dad that the bench faces a whole lot of nothing, he was still unprepared for the underwhelming view of an ugly wall the bench offers. Nevertheless, we took a picture, and then took a gander at the construction site of a new White Trash Fast Food where freshly painted enormous benches were being set up!
Then, the Easter weekend was upon us, and with it, business closures. A trip to the grocery store on Thursday was a bad idea.
Absurdly long lines at Rewe. This is what happens when everything closes down friday, sunday and monday. 25 minutes in line seems a little outrageous, when a roller coaster ride isn’t the end goal.
Despite all that, we managed to have a nice early Easter brunch on Saturday.
Hot Cross Buns and Creme Fraiche Quiche! So, at least my parents had plenty of sustenance before we sent them out on a wild goose chase. Attempting to find their way to Hohenschönhausen Prison, they were met with tram delays and cancellations, and extremely unhelpful drivers. In the end, they ended up rollin’ deep into the REAL Eastside in Hohenschönhausen, and missed the prison tour.
However, they rallied big and made their way back to the Siegesaule for bratwurst, brezel and bier. Later that evening, we had a nice dinner, and then drove over to have one last look at the Brandenburger Tor at night.