Berlin Stories: Day 6

The final day seen the students and staff gain access to C/O Berlin, the most established gallery in Berlin dedicated to Photography. Co-Curator and project manager, Ann-Christin Bertrand, met the students and took them on a guided tour of the currently un-furbished new gallery space. Having moved from the former imperial Postfuhramt in Berlin-Mitte, C/O Berlin relocated into an old American cultural centre building -Amerkia Haus- built just after the second world war. This unique opportunity to catch a glimpse inside the walls of a gallery space prior to is refurbishment is one that the general vistor to Berlin would never get to see.

The attitude and willingness to engage with the students of Ann-Christin Bertrand capped off a truly memorable and productive trip to the ever fascinating German Capital.

Many thanks to all the students and staff involved for making it such a sucessful week.

IMG_0224

IMG_0216

DSCF1910

DSCF1904

DSCF1892

Berlin Stories: Faye Grima

Dark tourism has become an ever-growing area across the world as many visit the macabre historical landmarks that have helped shape our current political economy. Berlin is arguably the home of many of these compelling sites. Whilst in Berlin, I focused on such historical landmarks and their importance to modern day culture. It is brutally evident when walking through Berlin that such dark tourism sites have had a huge affect on the city: both in terms of its economic touristic growth and its socio-political identity. I visited the Stasi Prison, The Holocaust Memorial Site and Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp where I uncovered the reasons behind I felt they were still relevant today.

berlinstories9

Around 15 students visited Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp in order to further understand the notorious political history of Berlin. The trip proved an interesting experience for both students and visitors.

Review

It is acknowledged as one of the most dehumanizing enterprises in human history: Sachsenhausen Concentration camp provides a sobering and sombre remembrance of Berlin’s past. One of the largest camps of the Reich between 1936 and 1945, around 200,000 people were forced into slave labour by the Nazi regime; many of whom were hung, exterminated, shot, and used for exploitative medical experiments.

berlinstories8

As you enter under the clock tower where the Nazis would shamelessly overlook the Jews, the unsettling  words entrenched within the gate still read “Arbeit Macht Frei” [work will set you free]; a harsh reminder that the majority of those sent to the camp were “set free” through death. The guide recalled one Jewish man who was tormented by the Nazis into running into a barbed fence where he was told he would be freed.

berlinstories7

May 29 1942 marked the beginning of some of the worst scenes at Sachsenhausen: the SS invited high ranked Nazi officials to witness a new installation at the camp and 96 Jews were killed by shooting to show the visitors the camps efficiency. This became known as Station Z – which in March 1943 was turned into a gas chamber which was used until the end of the war.

But despite offering a disturbing outlook of German history, for many, Sachsenhausen remains an important place for people visiting Berlin.

Noach Flug from the International Auswitz Committee said: “The world has learned too little from our history. Remembrance and commemoration must remain the equal task of both citizens and states”.

A visitor on the day also added: “As a German-born 22-year-old from Hamburg, I cannot say I like to come here. It is hard to accept that this happened but it is important to remember that it did” [Sebastian Statistik].

Has tourism gone too far? 

Although Sachsenhausen is undoubtedly an important place to commemorate those exposed by the Nazi regime, it was interesting to see how visitors behaved.

As I look around the concentration camp on a snowy day in March, I am startled by many on the grounds of a memorial site throwing snowballs and carelessly messing around.

075

Second year students Hannah MacInnes and Danielle Griffiths who visited the camp alongside other UCLan students said they were “confused by the behaviour of many at the camp”.

“It’s very important to visit here to understand what happened in Germany to avoid it happening again, but it is also important to treat it with respect, not like many have today”.

Danielle Griffiths added: “I am unsure as to whether the camp should still be here: I think tourism has gone too far”.

037

On the very grounds of where thousands of innocent people were killed today lies a snowman and a group of teenagers laughing whilst having a snowball fight.

Has tourism gone too far? Whether Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp is a portrayal of tourism going too far or a commemoration of survivors and those who lost their life remains an open question.

Berlin Stories: Alex Payne

In the Jewish Museum a multitude of lost citizens and their personal items and letters are displayed in a purpose-built underground building. The exhibition is laid out on a system of three axis – Continuity, Emigration and Holocaust. The items displayed in each section are relevant to whether the Jews emigrated or were taken into concentration camps, the axis of continuity displaying Berlin’s history with the other two axis branching off.

These images are of letters and personal belongings of Jews that have been donated to the Jewish museum, a very personal look into what each person considered important.

_DSC0179

_DSC0188

_DSC0194

Berlin Stories: Thomas Orrell

Before I even got to berlin I had a real interest in the history.  We all know about the conflict and some of the things which happen, but to actually go and visit these places such as the concentration camps is not something many of us will ever get the opportunity to do. So when I got the chance to see what it would of been like I took it.  I wanted my images to somehow show what the place was like and even some of the things that have been left behind.

3

 

2

 

1 (1)

Berlin Stories: Terri-Ann Williams

The Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection in Berlin has a range of antiquities which rivals that of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

This year the museum is holding a special exhibition: “In light of Amarna,100 years discovery of Nefertiti”. As Cairo continue to claim the bust of Nefrititi is rightfully theirs, a spokesperson for the Berlin Museum says that ‘the bust is too fragile to travel’.

In the past tensions have been high between the Museum in Berlin and Cairo. The bust of Nefertiti is one of the main exhibitions at the museum in Berlin, and is one of the most prized pieces in it’s collection.

Over 100 years ago an excavation was funded by Berlin born philanthropist James Simon, this excavation was carried out in Amarnaby German archaeologist, Ludwig Borchardt, in December 1912. It’s believed the bust of Nefertiti was made around 1350BC.

The bust has been displayed to the public for over 100 years and the German Government are defiant that the piece still belongs to them.

“I think Nefertiti is the best ambassador of Egypt. She is accepted here, although she is still unique and different. She must stay in Germany,” said Dr Wildung, the curator of the Egyptian Museum in Berlin.

In my opinion the exhibition is beautiful and the museum itself is a credit the archaeologists who have come from Germany and discovered such wonders. However the Cairo museum also holds a huge range of artifacts and antiques that are in no doubt the best source for Egyptologists and people interested in the history of Egypt.

The bust of Nefertiti is priceless and should be kept well preserved for people all over the world to see. Her rightful place of course is her home land Egypt, but if transporting her there means harming the bust then she should stay in Berlin.

Berlin March 2013 067

Berlin Stories: Grace Cappy

Tempelhof Airport, one of the largest architectural structures in the world, dominates the landscape of Berlin. Reminiscent of the utopian architectural ideas of Le Corbusier it once boasted everything from a bowling alley to secret archive bunkers. The airport now waits in limbo as its Nazi history and size means that its future is unsure.

Tempelhof

Tempelhof2

Templelhof3

Berlin Stories: Tueufelsburg

From the Rubble of World War Two began project ‘Devil Mountain’; the spy tower – Tueufelsburg – built by the US with compliance from the UK to hack and transfer USSR intelligence.

Image

Built in 1955, Tueufelsburg represented a hostile epoch in the cold war era. Stepping out of the train station began a twenty minute walk to the top of devil’s mountain, entering the security checkpoint we were open to roam the space of the US/UK spy tower, now abandoned and decorated with art.

Image

As we explored the second floor, we came across the only room present, an enclave upon a floor littered with cracks and holes. The room was an attempt by a local businessman to transform Tueufelsburg into a multi-functional hotel and company enterprise. Followed were protests and demonstrations to halt plans for the commercialisation of one of the many iconic symbols not only of Berlin, but of the Cold War era.

Image

Images: Jonny Boxall, Grace Cappy, Josh Payne

Words: James Whitehead