We’ll begin our tour at the iconic columns of the Brandenburg Gate, from where we are able to look down the Strasse des 17. Juni, one of the main boulevards in the proposed designs for Berlin’s urbanization as the capital of the Third Reich. Traveling a few short blocks, we’ll end up at the memorial of the central tragedy of the Nazi regime: Peter Eisenman’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. This controversial and enigmatic monument—a grid of hundreds of towering concrete blocks—will provide us with a context to discuss the historical events of the Holocaust, as well as an opportunity to touch on the complexities of the Jewish experience both during and after World War II. As we walk through the former government quarter of Berlin we will pass many other sites, memorials, and works of architecture that will help us confront the realities of Nazi rule, including the former site of Hitler’s Chancellery, the (now built-over) location of the Führerbunker, the former Reich Ministry of Aviation (Luftwaffe), and other major offices that orchestrated the war.
For visitors who would like to delve further into the history of the Holocaust: consider our Sachsenhausen tour, a trip to a nearby former concentration camp, or learn more about Jewish life, culture, and history on our Jewish Berlin Tour.
We'll conclude outside the Topography of Terror exhibition at the site of the former Gestapo and SS headquarters. This exhibition represents a self-conscious effort in the city to confront its Nazi legacy. Instead of trying to make a final statement about the horrors of Germany’s past, this site is committed to active engagement and to making history vivid and comprehensible. The exhibition is available to visit after the walk’s conclusion. By the end of our three hours together, we will have encountered the ghostly spaces of Berlin’s tragic past, not in an attempt to sensationalize or historicize the Third Reich, but in order to forge a connection to the present and understand how this history still shapes Berlin and Germany today.
Where do we meet? Where does it end?
Robert grew up in East Berlin during the 1980s and went on to study at the University of Florence, Italy. He received his PhD in cultural studies from Humboldt University of Berlin where his dissertation focused on sexual violence in the Nazi concentration camps. He recently worked as a researcher for the BBC and as a historian for the Sachsenhausen and Ravensbrück concentration camp memorials. His interests range from the history of art and architecture to modern European history and WWII. Robert worked for Hampshire College and has given guest lectures at both Boston University and Brown University. He has been working as a tour guide for more than ten years.
After completing studies in archaeology at Bournemouth University, England, in 2004, Aaron has worked as an archaeologist in the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, London, and all over southern England. Holding the position of Senior Archaeologist at the Museum of London Archaeology Service from 2006–2012, he supervised numerous site excavations dating from the Neolithic period (5000BC) through to the Second World War. Since arriving in Germany, he has continued his archaeological career through excavations in Bavaria, Brandenburg, and Berlin, Mitte. Aaron was more recently involved in an excavation in Klosterstrasse which was determined to be the oldest medieval remains in the city, and he holds the distinction of finding the “oldest medieval pig in Berlin" at this site. It could be said that he operates at the ‘coal face,' helping to rewrite and refine the known histories of places through his archaeological work. Aaron also has had a lifelong passion for military history, particularly that of the Second World War, and finds Berlin an ideal landscape for digging into that history.
Sven was born in Germany and grew up in Spain, where he attended the German School. After receiving his MA in industrial design he returned to Germany, working for several design and architecture studios, including the renowned post disciplinary studio El Último Grito, and established himself as a freelancer. In 2011, he began to lead guided tours in Berlin and its surroundings, which has inspired him to further his education in philosophy and history at the University of Potsdam.
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