Did anyone miss me? I have been traveling for two weeks — to Berlin, Germany to run a marathon and on the Los Angeles for a Disneyana Fan Club special event. I didn’t mention this beforehand because I don’t like to publicize my travel plans. I’m going to share most of my travel stories on Facebook. But today I have some thoughts about Berlin.
Many European cities are defined by medieval history. Berlin is defined by recent history. It was, of course, divided during the Cold War, and a double row of cobblestones snake through the pavement to mark where the Berlin Wall stood. Wall segments do survive today; they mostly serve as canvases for prolific street art. I also found a display of crosses for people murdered while trying to escape to the West. And there are some small brass plaques in the streets commemorating Jews who were removed during the Holocaust.
There’s the Topography of Terror museum on the site that was once Gestapo headquarters about the Nazis, the DDR Museum about life in East Berlin during the Cold War (which was more interesting than I thought), and the Stasi Museum about the East German secret police. We all know what a police state must be like, but it is another thing entirely to actually view the index cards, read the transcripts of phone calls, and see the equipment.
So how could all of this have happened? The most ridiculous premise was the myth of Aryan Supremacy, promoted by an insane Austrian (Hitler), a morphine addict (Goring), and a polio survivor (Goebbels). Certainly none of them were blonde with blue eyes. Yet the masses bought it. And millions died because of it.
Are there lessons for us? Yes, many.