Friday, February 11, 2011

Berlin, Germany - May 8, 2010

Holocaust Memorial
Berlin, once again the capital city of Germany, is also one of the sixteen states of the reunified country. With a population of 3.4 million, it is Germany's largest city and is located in northeastern Germany. Approximately one third of the city's area is composed of forests, parks, gardens, rivers and lakes. 
First documented in the 13th century, Berlin initially became the capital of the German Empire shortly after its formation in 1871 and the city expanded rapidly in the following years. 
Neptune's Fountain
The city's character has been shaped, or perhaps confused, by the turbulent roles it has endured in Germany's history, especially during of the 20th century. Each of the national governments based in the city - ​the original 1871 German Empire, the post WWI Weimar Republic, Nazi Germany of 1933, East Germany in 1950, and now the 1991 reunified Germany​ - embarked on grandiose construction programs, each with little regard to what came before. 
Exacerbating the devastation of WWII bombings, many of the remaining historic buildings were torn down in the 1950s and 1960s, by both the Western and Eastern governments, to make way for municipal architectural programs competing to build two distinct cities. The result is an unsettling hotch-potch of styles and neighborhoods. The site of Checkpoint Charlie, one of the renowned crossing points of the cold war Berlin Wall, is still preserved and also has a museum.
A Conference Bike
All four allies in fact shared responsibility for Berlin after WWII but, in 1948 when the West introduced the west German Mark as the currency for Berlin, the Soviet Union imposed a blockade on the landlocked American, British and French sectors. The blockade was eventually beaten by the Berlin Airlift, which flew in food and other supplies to the city from 24 June 1948 to 11 May 1949.
On October 3, 1990, the two parts of Germany were reunified as the Federal Republic of Germany, and Berlin became the German capital for the fifth time in accordance with the unification treaty. In June 1991 the German Parliament, the Bundestag, voted to move the German capital back from Bonn to Berlin. For a picture show of this long suffering metropolis, click here.

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