I have almost completed my European adventure, and I am so glad the last leg of my journey took place in Berlin. The city is completely different from the other three we have visited, and the culture is also markedly different. There are not nearly so many people walking around the streets of Berlin as there were in Paris and London. Tourists do not seem to be commonplace, but many people here speak excellent English. The population of the city is incredibly friendly and welcoming, much like the cultural atmosphere of Columbus. The city is clean and organized in a way that ensures efficiency in everything from ordering food to getting around on the trains. The food had been absolutely amazing and is very similar to the meals my mother made for my family and me when I was growing up.
There are historical sites all over the city, and a lot of evidence of the events that took place during the Second World War. The contemporary culture in Berlin is intertwined with the city’s involvement in the Great War. It is impossible to discuss the contemporary culture of Berlin without talking about the German attitude towards their country’s history. The city is bright and lovely, but places like the Topography of Terror are a sobering reminder of the destruction and death that took place 70 years ago.
The frank and forthright attitude of the Germans was instantly noticeable upon arriving in Berlin. I thought that learning about WWII from a native German would be an awkward and dodgy affair, but I was surprised to find our guide to be honest and complete in his telling of the story. Every guide we have had has openly acknowledged the atrocities of the German state and expressed support for the education of future generations on the topic.
The Germans are very aware of the role their country played in the destruction that resulted from the Second World War. They have used the last 70 years to come to terms with their past rather than creating a victim state that only focuses on the positives. I have gained a lot of respect for the contemporary German culture throughout my stay in Berlin. The people are friendly, and the city is exploding with life. Berlin has shown what a united and self aware group of people can accomplish, even with a past that holds some of the greatest atrocities in human history.