Sunday, July 31, 2011

Berlin Montage

A month of many travels.

Here are a few photos of Berlin. For me, a city emerging from genocide and self-immolation. Kind of like a country that went on a suicide bombing mission; the families on both sides are left to deal with the horror and evil of it all. Now, many signs of rebirth.

We rented a flat in East Berlin. A great building dating back to the 1890's, with large rooms and 12 foot high ceilings with massive, ornate, plaster crown mouldings. As you can see from the pictures, a neighborhood full of young, exuberant people. HA! Ghetto? Looks it, but I'd live there. Lots of clubs, coffee houses, street theater, arts and crafts coops/production shops, Turkish food stalls, Euro pizza, and, by coincidence, one of the centers of Berlin's extinguished Jewish life.

The Schoenhauser Allee Jewish graveyard was a 10 to 15 minute walk away, north and east. The graveyard is surrounded by a high wall. We arrived after 4pm and the gate was locked. The only way I could see inside was thru a small hole broken thru the concrete and brick wall:

The next day we returned, thanks to Nancy's insistence. No surprise, the cemetery was extensively desecrated during the war. This is one image of what we found:

We walked around the many acres of solemn quietude for about an hour. Perhaps once again these souls are finding peace here.

Nearby, the Rykestrasse Shul, entrance gate locked, and guarded by a policeman. And yet Jews are returning to the city, mostly from the former Soviet Union. Here we looked thru the gate to the shul across an enclosed courtyard.

I did not realize what remarkable museums and collections could be found in Berlin. As I mentioned in a Facebook post, it ranks with London, Paris, and New York, arguably the 4 greatest museum cities in the world. Some of the collections we visited: ancient Near East, Islamic, South and Southeast Asian, African, and a range of European arts and crafts. Just one detail from all this: a remarkable book from SE Asia, about 3 feet long:

And this detail from it:

 So much more, but that will have to do for a taste. Tomorrow, the Columbia River gorge.

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