Need a great Idea for Christmas Presents? Help those who really need it.

Now, this is certainly not about Berlin, but it might be very helpful. Today I learned about Oxfam International, "a confederation of 14 like-minded organizations working together and with partners and allies around the world to bring about lasting change" (Oxfam International). This organization wishes to end poverty and injustice, which of course is a noble goal ...

They have an online shop where you can buy chickens, goats, health check-ups, rainwater collection systems, classrooms, and, and, and! The store is called Oxfam unwrapped in English and Oxfam unverpackt in German. You send a gift to someone who really needs it and your loved one gets a card - and (at least in Germany) a fridge magnet.

See links below!

Oxfam English
Oxfam German


Romantic Christmas Market – KulturBrauerei

One of Berlin's most beautiful and most romantic Christmas Markets (and there are oh so many) takes place at the KulturBrauerei in Prenzlberg. It ends next Tuesday, so hurry up to pay a visit!

I couldn't really take pictures tonight because my camera refused active duty after just a few pics – out of spiteful defiance or perhaps because it was way too cold to function. We enjoyed strolling around this Christmas market, which is inspired by the Nordic countries and had a goblet of steaming hot and very tasty Finnish Glogg.

Official homepage


Schuttberg –Trümmerhaufen – View over a City from a Debris Mountain

Sometimes things have to get destroyed to rise high.

After the extensive damage from strategic bombing during World War II. many debris mountains were raised in Germany.
One of them is the Humboldthöhe (85 m) opposite the Gesundbrunnen station. From here (standing on the ruins of a concrete flak tower [anti aircraft tower] with the German Unity Memorial on top) you have an excellent view above the area around Humboldthain and Gesundbrunnen. If the weather is good you can see the Radio Tower and another debris mountain, the Teufelsberg (Devil's Mountain).

Flak towers were built during World War II. to provide air raid shelter for the civil population. There was room for up to 50 000 people in the lower level of a flak tower while upper levels were used for military action.

Today the towers contribute to the protection of nature: They have become a suitable hibernaculum for bats!


Berlin's Underworld - Relics of World War II

Berlin, that's for sure, has many different and highly fascinating faces!
Discover one of them beneath the Gesundbrunnen underground railway station in Berlin's North, where civilian shelters and bunker complexes await the intrigued visitor eager for historical knowledge, enticed to research, and wondering about the circumstances in which people lived during the bomb raids of World War II – or just plain curious to see "what's hidden beneath the surface".

One-man bunker in front of station

Berliner Unterwelten e. V.


Hermannplatz - Neukölln

Named after Herman the Cherusk (a.k.a. Gaius Julius Arminius) who defeated a Roman army in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, this place, situated in North Neukölln, constitutes one of the borders between Kreuzberg and Neukölln. The Karstadt department store occupies the corner belonging to Kreuzberg, the remaining area being part of Neukölln.
In 1929 Karstadt opened a huge department store on Hermannplatz. At the time it was Europe's most modern department store with an Art Deco architecture reminiscent of New York's skyscrapers.

The impressive building towered above Hermannplatz and survived the bombings of World War II. Sadly it was destroyed in 1945 - presumably by the SS who wanted to prevent the Red Army from laying hands on all the yummy stuff stored in the building.
Today's Karstadt is not comparable to the former one. It still has a terrace on its roof top though, from where you have a nice view over the busy neighborhood. A model of the or Karstadt can be found on its highest floor (see pictures below).
Historical pictures of Hermannplatz



"Ich bin ein Berliner" - I am a Citizen of Berlin

The above building - City Hall Schöneberg - was the stage for John F. Kennedy's famous words. From a platform on the steps of the City Hall he spoke to a crowd of West Berliners  living in an enclave in the "deep East" in 1963, and fearing East German occupation.

On November 9, 1989 - exactly 20 years ago today - the East German government announced that all GDR residents were allowed to visit West Germany and West Berlin. A torrent of East Germans climbed over the wall joined by West Germans on the other side. After so many years of separation, families and friends were finally united.


What makes a Door Handle so special?

Are you in the market for a new or used door handle? Then you may consider having it hand-crafted like the one I found on the entrance door of Berlin Schöneberg's City Hall. Top view: Just a beautiful giant door handle.

Life teaches us simple lessons: It's always better to look twice!


Kaiser William Memorial Church - Anti-war Memorial

Kaiser William Memorial Church, or as my daughter refers to it: "the broken church", is indeed an extraordinary landmark of Berlin. The Protestant church is located in the center of the Breitscheidplatz on Kurfürstendamm and visible over a great distance. The church - inaugurated in 1895 - was severely damaged during a bombing raid in 1943. Whereas the National Socialists promised the reconstruction of the church, the allied forces were reluctant to do so, as the building stood for the Wilhelmian-German national pride.

In the late 50s/early 60s a new church with a tower, a foyer, and a chapel was built and grouped around the ruins of the old church. The buildings are constructed in concrete, steel, and glass, the walls being made of a concrete honeycomb with more than 20.000 unique stained glass inlays by the French artist Gabriel Loire from Chartres. The predominant color is blue interspersed with red, green and yellow. The atmosphere inside the new church is delightful, due to the prismatic variation of colors.

The entrance hall of the damaged spire is open to visitors and presents beautiful mosaics, bas-reliefs, and sculptures along with panels which tell the story of the damaged church.

Source: Bundesarchiv
Kaiser William Memorial Church


The Athlete

Bronze by Margret Middell, 1965; in front of 
the Zeiss Large Planetarium Prenzlauer Berg


The Time Flow Clock

Thirteen meters tall and three whole stories high, the Time Flow Clock is a center of attraction in the Europa-Center Berlin. This colorful eye candy was designed and built by the French scientist Bernard Gitton in 1982. For a description of the clock's functionality visit Europa-Center's homepage (Time Flow Clock).

Water clocks are supposed to count among the oldest time-measuring instruments (probably appeared in China as early as 4000 B.C.E.)


Welcome to the Buyer's Paradise - KADEWE

This monstrous bat was hovering above the restaurant's guests today in Berlin's KADEWE (Kaufhaus Des Westens = Department Store of the West). For a lousy 160 € the eager consumer could purchase a ticket to gain access to their Halloween Party. Cheers!

The more than 100 years old KADEWE was opened in March 1907. It is the largest department store on the European continent. In 1927 the store was incorporated into the Hertie group. In the course of  the "Aryanization" during the National Socialist era, the owners were forced to sell and an "Aryan" managing director was appointed. An American airplane crashed into the building in 1943 - the KADEWE almost burned to the ground.

The original KADEWE was designed by the architect Johann Emil Schaudt. It was  a five stories high ferroconcrete building in unadorned neoclassical style. The storefront made out of shell limestone was structured horizontally (residential building like) with two central projections.

Today the giant store welcomes up to 180.000 visitors from all over the world each day - many of them just strolling around and marveling at the luxurious goods offered for sale.

Entrance hall in 1908

Storefront 1907 


The Water Tower's dark Secret

This water tower located in Prenzlauer Berg near Kollwitzplatz is the oldest water tower of Berlin. It was completed in 1877 and active until 1952. At the very beginning of the Third Reich the tower's machine house was used as a "wild" concentration camp . Here, the SA tortured and killed Jews and opponents of the regime.

Later, in 1934, when Hitler felt threatened by the SA's independence under their leader Ernst Röhm, the SS and the Gestapo massacred many of the SA men in this building during the famous "Night of the Long Knives" (also known as "Operation Hummingbird").

Today, the water tower is used as residential house.


Young People's Museum - Schöneberg

A very warm welcome awaits you on your visit to the "Young People's Museum" in Schöneberg.

Situated in a beautiful old villa, this unusual museum offers among other exhibitions the "Amazing Cabinets and Chests"-exhibition, where you can explore 54 yellow chests, each of which contains a selection of themed items from different areas of life. You can touch and check out objects, you can try on clothes, etc.

There is also a "History Laboratory" which is exhibition and research workshop wrapped in one. More than 300 objects - ranging from toy to espionage camera - tell the story of our once-divided city.

If you are looking for something exceptional for your kid's upcoming birthday: Children from 6 years on may even celebrate their birthday party in this very special location.


Mädchen mit Spielelementen - Girl with Play elements

This bronze statue by Michael Klein was erected in 1985 in East Berlin. The statue is dedicated to the German pedagogue Friedrich Wilhelm August Fröbel (1782 - 1852) - who coined the word "kindergarten" and its today universally known concept.

Fröbel was an advocator of  "free play" in childhood and designed and manufactured educational toys for children.

Fröbel: "Education = Example + love, nothing else."

Fröbel Website
Fröbel Gifts
Fröbel in the Encyclopedia Britannica


Bergmannstraße - Impressions

The Bergmannstraße in Kreuzberg is a very colorful and busy street crowded with people, shops, pubs, and restaurants. Find vintage and modern fashion, cozy places to eat and drink, and a great variety of people from all over the world as well as the historic Marheineke Market Hall (dating back to the 19th century), a huge indoor grocery shop.