Impressed by the Free Walking Tour of Berlin the previous day, I immediately signed up to another of Sandeman’s New Berlin Tours, this time focussing on the tumultuous Third Reich which in Berlin at that time was the heart of darkness that transformed a WWI scarred country into the near triumphant victors of WWII. This is the Third Reich Tour.
After a morning and a lunch with my new love, the Reichstag Building, I met my tour guide outside Starbucks at the iconic Brandenburg Tor. The mood of the group turned reflective as the tour guide asked us to think why a nation of people known for their level-headed thinking allow the greatest tragedy of the 20th Century to occur? What were their reasons? During my travels, I’ve had nothing but huge respect for the German backpackers I’ve met. Could their earlier generations have anything say? Just why?
Also, how could the world lie sleeping while the Nazis built their war machine and solidified power? The British has never gotten over the ‘Appeasement’ policy set by our Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. Did we do enough? All indications showed Hitler wanted total war with the world without any doubt. Maybe we should have done more? Should America as an emerging world power put a stop to it instead of staying in the confines of their isolationist policy? We don’t know. It’s easy to look back and say we should have done things differently especially from future generations who have never seen the horrors of the World War that has claimed millions of lives. That’s the failing of hindsight.
I wanted to go on the tour for two reasons. The first, to consolidate my learning of the country that spewed out Hitler and his Nazi Party of which I studied them intensively in school. The second is to find out the origins of the war that made both my Grandfathers join the British War Effort against Germany and both Grandmothers to endure the war on the home front from the bombings sometimes to their personal cost.
What was it all for, this fighting? I’m not one to know. I don’t think anyone knows. No one won. It was all for freedom but at huge terrible costs to everyone. And it led to the long tense and potentially world destroying Cold War that saw Berlin divided into two for the last half of the 20th century. Could the First World War had devastating consequences for the rest of the century?
Leaving the Brandenburg Tor, we were given a sombre three and a half hour tour of Berlin that still have the traces and status of Nazi Germany. Look carefully and you’ll see them dotted around you. Here are my experiences told behind the lens of my camera.
We visited the following:
Nazi Air Force Headquarters
SS & Gestapo Headquarters
The site of Hitler’s Chancellery & bunkers
Memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe
Goebbels’ Propaganda Ministry
The Soviet Memorial
Plans for Germania
The New Synagogue and Kristallnacht
The old Jewish District
Berlin’s oldest Jewish cemetery
This moving tour touches on a city that thrived with Jewish communities becoming non-existent to the present day, the rise and fall of The Nazi Party and the devastating consequences on the capital. We were well-informed through monuments and symbols that aims to let the world never forget the horrors and the origins of an ‘evil’ organisation that almost brought the country to its own utmost ruin and its impact on the rest of the world. The three and a half hours went without any notice even with a coffee break in the middle as we were gripped in the fleshed out stories and locations that the tour guide brought us to. I have to say that this tour is one of the best tours I’ve been on. This may be because you really do feel what may happened in that horrendous time that makes you truly reflect on the consequences that stemmed from 80 years ago when the Nazi Party came in power in 1933.
Heart-breaking, this tour could never be the same with the Dachau Memorial Tour that I undertook last year in Munich that also showed the horrors of the Nazi Party. However, it was very informative and really brought about to life in the very city that I studied while I was at school to give us that personal touch. Now, I understand why my Grandfathers fought for freedom.
Never Lest We Forget.
If you would like to know more about New Berlin Tours, click here.