Robin's Adventures

Central and Eastern Europe
An Adventure Steeped in History

Hitler's Bunker

Although Hitler's bunker was largely destroyed, a small plaque marks the site where it was located. This underground air raid shelter became Hitler's headquarters from January to April of 1945. It was in this bunker that Hitler committed suicide at the end of the war.

Jewish Museum

The unique design of the Jewish Museum building speaks volumes. There are empty spaces, or "voids" cutting through the building that are designed to symbolize the void of Jewish life in Berlin and the loss of contributions to the intellectual, cultural, and social growth of society.

Once inside there are sloping intersecting corridors with exhibits that show the paths that were taken by the Jews: living in Germany, emigration from Germany, and extermination from Germany through the holocaust.

Outside is an exhibit called the Garden of Exile. As you walk between 49 columns on very uneven ground it gives you the feeling that you are disoriented and trapped as many Jews felt when faced with the choice of emigration.

Memory Void

A moving exhibit by artist Menashe Kadishman called "Fallen Leaves" is located in the memory void, one of the empty spaces in the Jewish Museum. The exhibit consists of more than 10,000 faces cut from sheets of iron. The faces, with mouths opened in a horrified silent scream, represent people who have suffered as a result of war and violence.

As you walk across the faces, there is a haunting noise that fills the somber silence of the room. The sound, caused by the clanking of the metal faces, symbolizes the voices of the dead crying out so they are not forgotten. It was an experience that we will not ever forget.

Track 17

Track 17 served as one of the major deportation sites for the Jews of Berlin during World War II. Many of the trains went directly to concentration camps at Auschwitz and Theresiensstadt.

Today there are 186 meter long steel plaques that line track 17 at Grunewald Station, one for each of the transports that deported Jews between October 1941 and February 1945. Each plaque tells the date, the number of Jews, and the destination of the train.

In 1933 there were about 160,000 Jews living in Berlin. By 1939, mostly due to emigration, there were only 75,000 Jews left in the city. Only about 1,200 Jews who had hidden or assimilated remained in Berlin at the end of World War II.

Trail of Terror

Take a walk along a portion of track 17 to view the plaques showing the deportation of Jews during World War II.

Checkpoint Charlie

Checkpoint Charlie was a crossing point between East and West Berlin that was manned by the Americans on one side and the Germans on the other. Since many people from the east were desperate to escape to the west, there were many escape attempts at the checkpoint. In one such attempt, a man whisked his girlfriend and her mother across the checkpoint by lowering the windshield of an Austin-Healey so that it would fit under the vehicle barrier.

Another Brick in the Wall

The Berlin wall, built in 1961, surrounded West Berlin and cut it off from East Berlin and East Germany until the reunification of Germany in 1989.

The wall was built to prevent the loss of skilled workers in the east who were defecting to the west. During the almost thirty years that the wall was in place, about 5,000 people managed to escape by going over or under the wall. About 100 people died during that same period due to unsuccessful escape attempts.

Building Boom

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the city has undergone some dramatic changes. Most notable is the building boom that has added a new more modern look to the city. Old historical buildings have been refurbished and many new buildings have been added.

There are large cranes all across the city that punctuate the skyline and scaffolding abounds on many major buildings. There is a maze of pipes that extend along many roads that are being used to drain the underground tunnels for new subway lines.

The city is rapidly growing and doing a good job of maintaining its old world charm while moving full speed ahead into the twenty-first century.

Museum Island

There is a small island in the Spree River which is home to five of Berlin's major museums. The first museum was built on the island in 1824 and the most recent museum opened in 1930. UNESCO awarded museum island the status of World Heritage Site in 1999.

German Historical Museum

This museum shows, through a wide variety of artifacts, the development of German history from its beginnings until the present day. We enjoyed the wonderful exhibits and appreciated that most of the information cards had a portion that was written in English.