Hiding amidst the chaos of a building site is the Tränenpalast (palace of tears)...

Friedrichstraße (S1, S2, S3, S5, S7, S75)
Friedrichstraße (U6)
A wander past the former railway border crossing between East and West Berlin.

"Entschuldigen Sie, ist das der Sonderzug nach Pankow?" (excuse me, is that the special train to Pankow) sang West German rocker Udo Lindenberg in his 1983 hit Sonderzug nach Pankow. In it, he suggested he'd sit down with East German leader Erich Honecker to ask, over a bottle of Cognac, to be allowed to perform in East Germany. He suggested that Honecker was really a closet rocker who'd don a leather jacket, lock himself in the toilet and listen to western radio, an image which, once you've got it in your head is hard to let go of.

Pankow (S2, S8, S9)
Pankow (U2)
I take a walk around the Majakowskiring, once home to many of East Germany's top politicians.

I thought I'd grab a few snaps of Leipziger Straße on my way from the Mossehaus to Stadtmitte U-Bahn (that is, underground) station.

Stadtmitte (U2, U6)
A quick look at one of East Berlin's more monumental housing block developments.

We've seen the idea of old meeting new already in the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche and there are more modern buildings where it can also be seen in practise. It's a concept which goes back much further, though, as this next building shows - the Mossehaus.

Spittelmarkt (U2)
Erich Mendelsohn's impressive modernist reworking of a turn of the 20th century office building, plus a look at the rubble surrounding the nearby Krausenhof.

So, the trip's coming towards its end...but there's still time for a few more things...

So, my next exciting destination is...

Zoologischer Garten (S3, S5, S7, S75)
Zoologischer Garten (U2, U9)
Wittenbergplatz (U1, U2, U3) - for Ka De We
The West Berlin supermarket where the East German government bought Western goods. Plus a quick look at the nearby Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche and KaDeWe.

I take the U-Bahn from Platz der Luftbrücke up to Friedrichstraße. A pair of young women get on, giggling. They sit down a few seats away from me and giggle some more. They seem to have their heads bowed down, looking at something.

They have a large leather handbag placed between them. The head of a kitten appears from inside it, mostly white, with dark tabby brown ears. They both stroke it as it looks around. This certainly brings a new meaning to not letting the cat out of the bag.

When I said in my last post that I was headed for something connected with Hitler's Welthauptstadt Germania plans, this is what I meant. It's...

The Schwerbelastungskörper

A block of concrete. With cracks in it. Exciting, isn't it?

Julius-Leber-Brücke (S1)
Platz der Luftbrücke (U6)
A very large block of concrete, built to test the ground in preparation for Hitler's remodeling of Berlin.

The Schwerbelastungskörper (heavy loading body) was built in 1941 as part of the planning process for Hitler's desired transformation of Berlin into Germania.

Berlin is built on unstable ground, with sandy soil, no bedrock and a high water table. The engineers tasked with building Germania wondered whether the ground would be solid enough to hold some of the huge structures which Hitler had asked architect Albert Speer to create. He had planned a monumental axis running from north to south, with a colossal 117 metre high triumphal arch at the southern end, just a little further south from here and a huge Pantheon-like 'Volkshalle' at the northern end, near where the Reichstag is today.

The idea with the Schwerbelastungskörper was that if it sank less than 6cm in two years, the earth would be considered stable enough to build on; it sank 19. War intervened before Hitler's plans could progress any further.

I was actually on my way to somewhere else when I passed through Platz der Luftbrücke, so this is a particularly hastily taken picture, but it at least gives you something to look at...

Platz der Luftbrücke

The Platz der Luftbrücke is named to commemorate the Berlin Airlift.

Platz der Luftbrücke (U6)
Passing by the memorial to the Berlin Airlift, I give a brief history of the events it commemorates, plus a few words on Tempelhof airport and Hitler's plans for Berlin.

The 'festival of freedom' yesterday was interesting, though not particularly exciting. It rained a lot, too! It was a long night though and quite tiring overall, so I've spent the day so far taking it easy and trying to clear the backlog of things to post here...not that I've succeeded yet! I'll post a full report about the festival of freedom later.

Anyway, it's time for me to get out there before it gets dark...and I think that now the wall has symbolically been knocked down a second time, it's time to take a look at the west.


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