Reading the history of a place you're visiting always does make it a bit more exciting and meaningful. Four years ago when I was headed to Berlin, I was reading 'The Fall of Berlin 1945'. The vivid descriptions of fighting in the last year made the visit to the Reichstag all the more impactful.
Now I'm reading 'Berlin Diary'. The journals of a radio correspondent stationed in Berlin beginning in 1934. It's about the run up to the war and the thick of it, before America entered into the fray.
Agh, the haunted-ness of Berlin. It was delightful to hear the stories of the Danish coming together to outwit the Nazis and save lives when I was in Copenhagen. It’s a horror reading about the slow fall into destruction of Germany. How stupid the people were at first to allow democracy to be done away with, and then how complacent they were to allow war to start again. One ray of niceness is that Berliners tended to be a bit smarter than the rest, having the highest number Communist party members (hence anti-Nazi), voting in the largest numbers against the Furhrer in elections, not wanting war, most listening (illegally) to the BBC, trying to hold on to their days of debauchery between the world wars. And of course, now the new Berlin, united in Democracy, holds that period of their history in shame and aims to create a new path. That's why the city is so exciting, alive, artsy.
Most disgusting is the use of propaganda. The outright lies of politicians. Is it so far off to call what Fox 'News' and the Republican party does the same? One is to uphold a dictator, the other is to promote a regime that makes them more money. The National politics of America really does disgust me hugely. How can one say that the rich can't afford to pay more taxes and the stimulus didn't work when most economists (at least the ones not paid by the Republicans) say otherwise? How can they say that global warming isn't caused by human activity when every scientist (and usually they themselves a few years ago) say otherwise? And even sillier things like Obama is a Muslim, or gay parents make their kids gay.
It's a bit more believable to think that the Germans swallowed everything Goebbels was selling when you think a good percentage of Americans are swallowing what Fox sells them, even when there are other sources available to negate them. (Factcheck.org anyone?)
In any case, I'm still excited to go. Would have rathered Barcelona, Lisbon, Rome, or anywhere else warmer, but somehow Berlin was by far the cheapest ticket on the menu, so away we go.
Time to brush up on my German . . . .