After Class 50 and all of our luggage arrived in Berlin, we proceeded to load the bus and begin our guided tour of the city. Much of the city was destroyed during World War II, but many historic buildings have been rebuilt as they originally were. The city is filled with green spaces, and a mix of old and new buildings. Our guide, Andrea, is a native from Berlin was able to share a lot of history and answer a lot of our questions on both history and life in Berlin- both current and past. She discussed how after the war private investment in Berlin left, causing virtually all industry to be lost, a situation that the city is still suffering from. As we traveled through the city, she shared with us where the Berlin wall was- it was interesting to see how the area where the wall was has been completely integrated into the city. The dividing lines between the former East and West Berlin are not visible.
After a lunch of traditional German Currywurst, we proceeded on the rest of our tour, and made our way to the “House of Wannsee Conference.” The house itself is a beautiful country mansion on a lake with a lovely garden, however the meeting that occurred on January 20, 1942 had dire consequences for Jews in Europe. By the time of the conference, Hitler had already decided to exterminate all the Jews in Europe- almost 1 million Jews had already been killed, and more relocated to ghettos. The conference focus on “the Final Solution to the Jewish Problem” was ultimately not about the deportation and execution of Jews, but about the logistics of it. Fifteen Nazi, SS, and other German leader wrote a protocol on how to kill Jews more efficiently, how to influence public perception, European and global diplomatic issues. In preparation for the conference one of the officials, Adolf Eichmann a SS officer produced a list of the Jews in population of Jews in the whole of Europe. The summer following the Wannsee Conference is when the large scale deportation of Jews to concentration camps started. The decisions made at the conference affected the remainder of the war, resulting in the ultimate murder of 6 million Jews in Europe.
Just as the Wannsee Conference laid the foundation for the worst crimes of the Holocaust, it also lays the foundation for the remainder of our trip. As we continue our travel, we will se how the decisions made during this conference played out through Europe.
After a long day of touring, learning, and exploration, we made our way to a restaurant called Restaurant Zur Nolle. As a group we enjoyed a traditional German meal of schnitzel, meatballs, sausage, sauerkraut, and salad. During dinner we unpacked our day discussing German culture, the day’s events, and our travel. As each day passes the trip will be building on itself and we will be unpacking how the leadership decisions in Germany during WWII effected generations to come.
6 thoughts on “~Day 1-Berlin, The Wannsee Conference, and German Culture~”
Thanks for this. Your descriptions help to further solidify the horrors of that war in my mind.
Glad you guys had a good trip and made it safely to Europe!
Great post – looking forward to following your blog! Safe travels and take care of each other #bookends 🙂
Thank you Michael and Megan, it is good to hear from you and your experiences. I look forward to reading more of your travels.
What an amazing experience.