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.)