Yesterday began our Berlin journey. After a long, mainly restless flight, I landed on foreign soil for the first time. Even though at this point it was the equivalent of being awake from 7am until midnight, I was not tired. Excitement took over and kept me a awake for the remainder of the day, amazingly. Even when others were dozing on the bus, I remained with my eyes open. I passed out once I reached the hotel at 4pm German time or 9am Central Time. I made it a solid 26 hours with only 2 ish hours of sleep on the plane.
We met our delightful, British tour guide Nigel who guided us around the city with a sense of humor and a make-it-up-as-we-go plan. It was wonderful. We saw so many great monuments and learned several interesting tidbits about Berlin and the lifestyle. There is so much history here that revolves solely on World War II. Like Nigel said, there is good and bad to see in this city, which happens to be the less densely populated capital city in Europe, so lots of green abounding.
The most impactful place we visited was not on a normal tour program, but I am SO GLAD that we stopped there. I think a majority of the singers would agree. We went to the German Resistance Memorial. Why was it so impactful? We were standing in the room of two very important events in Hitler’s life. After being brought to power he met with 18 German generals and spoke to them about the plan to uproot Marxism. He stood on the same square of tile as Nigel and addressed 18 individuals as Nigel addressed us 18 members of the Castle Singers tour. It gave me chills. He pointed out the door Hitler walked through, which is still standing and I, for some reason, began anticipating him to walk through again at any moment. It freaked me out, but that is a feeling that will never leave me. After this meeting two of the generals met and spoke about this new power and his plan, one saying that he must be gotten rid of.
The other important event that occurred in the room we met in, is the hatching of the famous Valkyrie assassination attempt. Conspirators met there about the plan and from that building, they contacted those in other countries and announced Hitler’s death, which they believed occurred from the bomb blast. However, Hitler managed to be in the exact right place at the right time and avoided being killed. A table is what saved his life. (Fun fact, Hitler avoided not one but 40 assassination attempts!) So this resistance group announces to all that Hitler is dead and that everyone can go ahead and remove all the Nazis as well in an attempt to end Naziism. This, as you may know, did not work out so well. Those who supported Hitler showed up and ended up killing 4 of the leaders of the resistance that day in the meeting room or in the courtyard. One man tried to take his own life as a way of showing honor, but failed both times he tried. This all set off the gruesome murders of hundreds of members of the resistance by hanging using piano wire and meat hooks. Talk about about a torturous death. Their families were also often taken captive. It’s astounding to see just how many people had sacrificed their lives for the cause of removing Hitler from power.
Walking away from this building, I felt immensely enlightened, but also emotionally and physically drained. I was surprised to find my legs felt a little weak. Admittedly, this could be due to my exhaustion, but many other Singers felt the same. We were all glad we had stopped at this hallowed ground because it IS important to learn about this history. It’s tough to hear about, but I am fascinated by it all the same. It makes me proud to be learning more about what kinds of powers and plans the soldiers, including my Marine grandfather, were fighting.
I may have gotten some of these details incorrect, and I apologize and will fix whatever needs to be fixed if it is pointed out to me, but these are the facts as I remembered them. A lot of rich, haunting history was contained in those four walls of the room. I cannot wait to learn more about each of the locations we are visiting.