We went to a bridge where, during the Cold War, spies would trade information and captured spies were exchanged between the USA and the Soviet Union, we saw the KGB headquarters, visited Schloss Cecilienhof, the castle where The Potsdam Conference was held with Harry S.Truman (USA), Joseph Stalin (Soviet Union) and Winston Churchill (England) and walked around Sans Souci, (which in French means ‘No Worries’) that Friederich II built to be away from his overbearing and very unkind father.
Now I will tell you some interesting facts we learned in Germany:
We saw a train bridge that had a hole blown through the metal where a Soviet tank shot a shell at Nazi troops, and you can stick your arm through the hole. It was crazy to think that the Soviets were fighting in the streets of Berlin against the Nazis when they stormed the city.
We learned that, unlike the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia or Mao in China, the German children are taught all about the Nazis, the Nazi era and concentration camps. They teach all of the bad stuff very directly to German kids, and don’t hide the bad parts of German history so that people know about it and so that it will never happen again.
You’re not allowed to own Nazi goods anywhere in Germany and if you’re making a movie you have to register the goods and let them know when you will use these Nazi goods and for what amount of time and then give them back.
The Americans built a very large antenna used to spy on the Soviets, and it was near the border of East and West Germany.
The Potsdam Conference is where three people, Truman, Stalin and Churchill came together to divide the German land into territories in 1945 after the Nazis were defeated. They divided Germany into sections for the Soviet Union, America and Great Britain but the American and British merged into West Germany. Berlin was in the middle of East Germany, and it was the capital, so it was chopped up between East and West Berlin and the Americans got West Berlin.
The check-points to go from West to East Berlin are checkpoint Alpha (the road entering East Germany from the border of West Germany), checkpoint Bravo (entering West Berlin from the border of East Germany), and checkpoint Charlie (the famous one we saw, entering East Berlin from West Germany where the Berlin Wall was).
To get from checkpoint Alpha to checkpoint Bravo, no cars could stop or pull over in the Soviet controlled East Germany… so kids had to wear diapers or not have any water for a long time so that the car could make the drive fast without stopping since the car time was timed at each checkpoint.
The castle where the Potsdam Conference was held has 54 different chimneys, but almost all of them were built for decoration only.
The former King Friedrich Wilhelm I had an arm that was longer than the other because when he was a breach baby and they had to pull his arm to get his whole body out of the womb. So, to keep it from looking different he would rest his longer arm on a walking stick or sword.
The most important vegetable in Germany is the potato. It was introduced to Prussia by King Frederick II who obtained the potato from France. People now leave potatoes on Frederick II’s grave.
The way King Friedrich II introduced the potatoes was by making his people curious about the vegetable. When the farmers started to plant it, they thought that they should eat the leaves, but actually if you boil the leaves, they are poisonous. So, he made a potato garden and surrounded it with security and eventually everyone got a chance to sneak in and steal the whole potato including the potato root. So, soon they learned it was the root to cook not the leaves.
King Friedrich II lived apart from his wife and friends, and only let his sister (yay!) and his friend Voltaire visit him in Sans Souci castle. He defeated the Hapsburgs of Austria, and enlarged Prussia, but was a unique person.
The day was a long, but amazing day. I learned many things I didn’t know about Berlin including, every king was named Friedrich or Wilhlem of Friedrich Wilhelm (really!!!), and that you can’t own any Nazi stuff. My favorite building we saw was the building that held the Potsdam conference because in it there was a star that was made of red roses and it was supposed to be a Soviet star.
I learned that Germany went through many periods and wars before becoming what it is today.