Monday, 18 November 2013

BERLIN CHRONICLES (Part II): INSIDE the REICHSTAG


Entering the Reichstag is going through airport security. Bags and metals go through X-ray machines and passports are checked. There are young Germans by the gate with clipboards, checking your names against their list of guests for the day. It brought back the old days of attending magazine events when names had to be ticked off PR companies' books, except this visit was not to schmooze and knock down cocktails.

In this post, you will see more of Berlin's famous landmarks, the Russian legacy inside the building that houses Germany's parliament, the plenary room, and an art installation that bears the names of the most notorious names who orchestrated the Holocaust.


The Reichstag and the glass dome


The Reichstag building housed the Imperial Diet from 1894 to 1933 until it was severely damaged by fire. It was abandoned after World War II until its full restoration, headed by renowned British architect Sir Norman Foster, began in 1990. On 19 April 1999, it once again became the house of the German parliament or modern Bundestag.

source: vintage-views.com
 The old Reichstag with the original dome, now replaced by a glass structure, which you can see below. It is a gesture of tribute to the original 1894 cupola.



Inside the dome


Me, myself, and I.




Walking up the spiral walkway


And further up. Look closely and down and you'll see rows of bluish purple seats located at the debating chamber of the parliament floor.

The debating chamber on the parliament floor receives natural light through the glass dome where the large sun shield electronically tracks and blocks direct sunlight and allows just enough light to illuminate the hall. The dome's original concept was drawn up by  German architect Gottfried Böhm, which was incorporated with Sir Norman Foster's blueprint when the latter won the competition to design the refurbishment plans for the Reichstag. 

The dome is transparent which symbolises the German people being above and watching the government as a united and democratic country, and futuristic in a very conscious move to be alienated from the Third Reich and Nazi past.


Mr Tattler by the dome's funnel-like structure. We'd love to go back to see this at night. Berlin seems to favour architectural designs that show off the cityscape.


The Reichstag's design is very familiar as it is Sir Norman Foster's signature arhitectural style. He's also responsible for (L-R) London's City Hall building, the Gherkin, and New York's Hearst tower.



A scale model of the Reichstag


When the restoration of the Reichstag building began, some of the walls have been found to be covered with graffiti by Russian soldiers who stormed the Reichstag believing that it was Hitler's 'palace'. Upon the building's restoration, the original internal walls, writings, and bullet holes were kept.


A wall of Cyrillic script


This man recorded his route: Moscow to Stalingrad to Berlin (above left of the bullet mark).


Love on the wall. Galina loves Anatol (in my Anglicized spelling and recollection), as written inside the heart. Beside it reads, "May all our dreams come true." Our guide Laura says they have visited the Reichstag  and are still very much together.


The hall that leads to the entrance of the plenary room on the parliament floor. One of the blue doors serves as Chancellor Angela Merkel's occasional office  which is very convenient as the entrance to the debating hall is in the next room.




Excuse me, I have an appointment with the Chancellor. We'll discuss shoes, hair, makeup, quantum Physics, and yes, world peace.


Posterior view of the Federal Eagle. There are 14 artistic renderings of the Bundesadler but this large and rather plump one is the chosen emblem for the parliament floor. Nicknamed Fette Henne or Fat Hen, it can also be found on the German Euro coin.


This is an art installation by a Jewish artist whose name unfortunately escaped me as I was stunned by some of the names I've seen there--names which I've only seen from documentaries and whose faces dominated black and white footages of the Nazi regime. From what I gathered (I was only half listening), public officials used to have post boxes. The tradition was then turned into a commemorative installation honouring and identifying past and present leaders with their names on it, the political parties they belonged to, and the terms they served. We were of course shown the post boxes of the most notorious names in Germany's history.


The other tourists, who were mainly pensioners (except for the two Asian boys who didn't look as interested as their parents). Mr Tattler and I thought that we will probably party instead in Ibiza or wherever the party capital of the world is by then when we reach pension age, as we've already done what we're supposed to do in our 60s.


Angela Merkel, the incumbent Chancellor. I'm not sure why it says 1999 when she is still affiliated with the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Any ideas?



Two of the staunch supporters of antisemitism and pillars of the National Socialist Party (NSDAP). Joseph Goebbels was the Reich Minister of Propaganda and Chancellor of Germany for one day. He was one of the mentors of the Final Solution or the extermination of the Jews. Hermann Göring was President of the Reichstag from 1932 to 1945 and founder of the Gestapo or Secret State Police. I found out that we share the same birthday and I must say I'm not very happy about that. I thought sharing it with Sporty Spice was bad enough.


Heinrich Himmler was Reichsführer-SS, a special position created by Hitler, and was one of the persons directly responsible for the Holocaust. He built, set up, and controlled the Nazi concentration camps.



No need for introduction. Hitler's box is the sturdiest of all because prior to this one, it had been changed at least nine times as visitors who couldn't contain their latent anger would kick and hit his post box until it's properly mangled.



The black box. This symbolises the time in Germany's history when a governing body didn't exist.



See the third step from the bottom of the stairs? The Berlin Wall used to run on that line. This is part of the basement of the building connected to the Reichstag.



Turn right to get to the rooms where ultra confidential parliamentary meetings are held. So confidential that matters are only for the ears of the highest-ranking officials, unless of course the German phone lines are tapped.


The glass dome as seen from below and serves as the debating room's ceiling You can see the spiral walkway to reach the top of the dome. The conical appendage in the centre distributes natural light across the room.


The debating chamber. We had the honour of sitting at the box where international leaders are seated for parliamentary visits. The seats looked a shade of purple, but it was actually blue. We were told it's a especially commissioned blue for the Bundestag, so your go-to upholsterer and upmarket Farrow and Ball won't be able to recreate it for you.


Next time, we'll find out more about The Story of Berlin, walk down Wilhemstrasse, talk fashion and devour some German cuisine.

If you missed Part I of this tour, please click here.

To register to visit the Reichstag, please click here.











15 comments:

  1. Wonderful images! Berlin has such great surrounding architecture there, it's hard not to be inspired. :)
    Have a great week Marj! x/Madison

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    1. It would've been great if their pre-war architectural grandeur was preserved, but we all know what happened. Lots of construction going on around Berlin, it's looking very modern, but I wish it won't be too much as a city that's so new isn't very attractive in my point of view. Have a good week, too Madison x

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  2. What an interesting visit! I should put this on my to visit list when in Berlin next!

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    1. You must Anouka! I'm sure you'll be taking lots of beautiful photos :)

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  3. Thanks for taking pictures and posting it here! Wasn't able to visit it last time we visited Berlin four years ago!

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    1. How lovely to see you here! You missed a great spot then in Berlin. Try to go the next time you're back x

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  4. Wow I wish you were my history teacher at school, I might have enjoyed it a bit more. It must have been so stimulating to learn about all this whilst actually walking through such a historical place. I can't believe what you said about Hitler's box, well actually I can believe it because of their angst but to actually see it must have been quite surreal.

    I hope I know you when I'm a pensioner, you can help keep me young with your travels to Ibiza.

    Have a fabulous week hun xx

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    1. Haha. I did intend to major in History. Don't know what happened along the way. It was very very interesting and stimulating to find out more about that dark period in their history. I'm quite well-versed about the events but some of the things I've learnt there haven't even made it to the documentaries I've seen. If there was probably anything else that bore Hitler's name there, it would have suffered the same fate. We can also party in Dubai when we're pensioners! Haha. Have a good week x

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  5. What a beautiful building and I particularly enjoyed your photos from inside the dome. I must remember this as I'm sure we shall at some point spend a long weekend in Berlin. Great little snippets of information here too!
    http://missbbobochic.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Thanks miss b. A visit to the the Reichstag's dome is a must and I'm glad I'm encouraging some readers to go on their intended trip. It's one of my favourite European cities now and will definitely go abck for more.

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  6. Wow, what a beautiful building! Berlin has forever been on my to-visit list but I've never quite made it there! Sidenote, the Gherkin is my absolute favourite building in London :) I just think it looks so beautifully out of place that you can't help but love it!

    hayfa
    www.londonloafers.com

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    1. Seems that most would love to see Berlin but has never quite come round to it. Maybe next year for you? It's the 25th anniversary of the fall of Berlin Wall. Berlin is getting a rep for great partying, so could be a perfect time for you and your friends :D Have a lovely weekend!

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  7. The Reichstag is just amazing - we didn't manage to go in last time as the children were unable to wait in the queue - it was the end of a long, hot day.
    Next time we will definitely go.
    Thanks so much for sharing this!

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    1. Just book online next time Ruth. Best thing to do to make sure you get in and no need to queue x

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  8. It was very useful for me. Keep sharing such ideas in the future as well. This was actually what I was looking for, and I am glad to.

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