Thursday, 27 April 2023

Humboldt Forum Again – So much to see, so little time. Insider’s Educational Nr. 4 in 2023. We decided to hold a second Insider educational at the Humboldt Forum because there were so many spaces not visited first time round. Remember this is a vast complex of museums and exhibitions. Our main focus this time was the Ethnological Collections and Asian Art Museum, the Ts’uu – Cedar Exhibition, the Benin Bronze Room, and the Against the Current, a North American Indian/First Nations Exhibition.
Starting outside with the Sanchi East Gate replica. Sanchi is a Buddist complex north east of Bophal city in central India. The original Gate/Stupa is from the 2nd or 3rd century BC. The replica you see on this photo was created from a gypsum relief made on site in 1886. This replica now depicts the Gate detail much better than the original which has deteriorated due to pollution over the years. It is a nod to the collections inside the Forum.
A Haida Manga Mural by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas This mural depicts, in great detail, the history of Michael’s first nation tribe through the ages. Historically correct, tragic with humour, colourful, ethnic and very beautiful, it is an shining example of the many truly fascinating exhibits in this exhibition.
The Long Houses of Oceania The first of these original houses were shipped to Germany over 100 years ago. Some are the best examples of long houses from this period, as none now remain in their home countries. There is one you can climb into and it is really popular with kids. All in all, another fascinating tour through time with tour guide extraordinaire, Tarek Ibrahim. As said in the previous post, this is a big diverse complex of wonders - pick you topic and have fun!

Tuesday, 14 March 2023

Humboldt Forum – A Lesson in Contradictions, Conflict and Compromise. Insider’s Educational Nr. 3 in 2023.
Access to the rooftop is (still) free and easy to organise (book at reception), even last minute. You get a fabulous view over Berlin. From here you can really see how the modern city radiates outwards from this point. There is a rooftop restaurant/café, an excellent place to mark sundown.
Hofgespräche. With our Insider guide extraordinaire, Tarek Ibrahim, we discuss the vision for the Humboldt Forum. The past is fairly clear but the present, not so sure. Is it a musuem, a site for culture and science exchange and debate, Prussian nostalgia, Imperial prunck, historical revisionism, a modern palace of wonders, take your pick, or all of the above. The debate continues.
Room with a view. Get a look at the ruins of the bombed out cellars of the original Hohenzollern Palace.
19th century hot water pump from the cellar palace - the latest technology back in the day.
Massive dual purpose art and information display in the grand foyer, it should really be one or the other.
Changing dome images of celestial formations, traditional and religuous design, dieties and iconoghraphy from different cultures worldwide.
Praying For Myriad Virtues: Ding Guanpeng’s “The Buddha Preaching”, from 1770, Quing dynasty.
Under Japanese Roof. Although the vision and theme of the Humboldt Forum remains elusive, the building excites and the exhibitions therein excel. The range is diverse – Berlin 90s, Hohenzollern palace culture, Ethnological Museum, debate space for culture and science, Museum of Asian Art, architectual features, restoration and replacement, visiting exhibitions, live performances, an ice cream parlour, it has it all. It can be overwhelming. It will keep changing. Our advice would be to plan your visit – chose what you want to see, and enjoy Berlin’s newest attraction!

Wednesday, 15 February 2023

Documentation Centre for Displacement, Expulsion and Reconciliation. Insider's Educational Nr. 2 in 2023.

The long name to Berlin's newest and most excellent documentation/exhibition centre reflects some of the conceptual stages it went through from 1993 to its opening in 2021.
Insider Tour guides were treated to an eye-opening and thoughtful tour of the exhibition by their wonderful guide, Emma.
The first floor chronicles refugee causes and experiences world wide.
The second floor deals almost exclusively with the estimated 12.5 million Germans who were expelled and displaced from Poland, Czechoslovakia, Rumania and other countries at the end of WWII. During that post-war time of total devastation and hunger, these refugees added approximately 20% to the German population between 1945 and 1950.
This is a modern, well displayed exhibition with many multimedia interactive features. All text displayed is in German and English. Admission is free. Group tours with a max. of 15 pax can be arranged for approx. €75. Definitely well worth it!

Friday, 13 January 2023

German Military Capitulation 1945 - Museum Berlin-Karlshorst. Insider's Educational Nr. 1 in 2023

Entrance to the museum proudly flying the Ukarinian flag!
This museum was originally called the 'Museum for the unconditional surrender of facist Germany in the great Fatherland War 1941-'45'. Later the museum was unofficically called, the 'German-Russian Museum'. Right now it is, Museum Berlin-Karlshorst, like it was in 1995.
Room where the German military high command signed the unconditional surrender of Germany on May 8th 1945!
Originally there were only three flags, the French flag was added later, it is s a great story, go to the museum and find out why.
'Your Deed is Important' Kneeling Red army soldier, paying respects to the fallen during WW2
Chicago Daily Tribune, 1st Sept. 1939. The WAR has started.....
German map of concentration of resources in the Soviet Union.

Stained glass portrait of a Soviet soldier from the memorial in Treptower park Berlin.
Anti-Hitler Coalition, great Soviet propaganda.
Original situation map of Berlin's defences on April 29th 1945 found in Hitler's bunker. All in all it was a great afternoon spent with our super guide, Anja. Go to the museum, it is free and is the location where one of the most important events of the 20th century took place!

Wednesday, 20 July 2022

Insider's Annual BBQ

Finally, after a two year absence the annual Insider BBQ took place Monday this week in glorious sunshine on the fabulous Tempelhofer Feld. What a wonderful way to to spend the evening, chillin' n' grillin' with friends and colleagues. Here a few snapshots of the goings on.

Insider BBQ Tempelhofer Feld
Sundown on the Tempelhofer Feld

Frisbee King
Two Cool Irish Guys and a Wannabe

The Americas, North and South

The Odd Couple   

Three Amigos

Bottles for the Boys

Insider Fashionistas

Thursday, 2 June 2022

Probably the cheapest public transport ticket in the world!

From June 1st all citizens and visitors can travel freely in Germany on all forms of public transport, local and regional (excluding InterCity trains), for only €9 per month. This offer is currently valid for the months of June, July and August 2022. Here's hoping they might even extend it. Buying the ticket is a sinch - they are available in the machines on every station platform. Bag one on your arrival in Germany and travel almost for free!
For more detail read all about it on ExBerliner


Tuesday, 26 January 2021

Bunkers of Schönholzer Heide

During one of our strolls through Berlin’s interesting, diverse landscapes we went to discover Schönholzer Heide in the district of Pankow. This park was initially created for Queen Elisabeth Christine, wife of Frederich the Great, in the middle of the 18th century. During World War II there was a bunker complex built in the park, some of which were used by civilians during the bombings raids on Berlin in the 1940’s. During this time the park was also the location of Berlin’s second biggest ‘Zwangsarbeiter’ camp (forced labour camp). The majority of these forced labourers were foreign prisoners from Nazi occupied countries. After the Berlin Wall was built in 1961 the park was just inside the East Berlin border wall. Since the fall of the Wall in 1989 the park is now accessible to all Berliners and visitors.

Our primary objectives on this excursion was to pay our respects at the Soviet Memorial, find the oldest remaining section of the Wall still standing, locate the bunkers and look for Cemetery 6.

Berlin Wall


This is the oldest existing piece of the Berlin Wall. This section is just over 80m in length. It was forgotten about after the Wall came down, only to be ‘rediscovered’ a few years ago. It is the original, first generation brick wall from 1961, built using bricks from buildings that had been destroyed during the war!


Found the first bunker


We found the first bunker we were looking for. There was a lot of concrete and remnants from the bunker complex strewn around this portion of the park.


“Luna” Bunker (both pictures)

This bunker complex was built for civilians in World War II. It was named the Luna bunker because the old name of the park was Luna Park. Today this relic left over from World War II is covered in graffiti. With our torch we looked in to the bunker where you can still clearly see the interior rooms.

Friedhof 6


This cemetery remains somewhat a mystery. It is unkept and quiet overgrown. It is thought that either forced labourers, and/or civilians killed during bombing raids, or during the ensuing chaos of the Battle of Berlin, are buried here. Not to be mistaken for the orderly and well-maintained cemetery nearby which is filled almost exclusively with bombing raid victims from the Spring of ‘45, cemetery 6 is unkept and has no railing, gate or signage. Only for some gravestones, mainly from the 70’s, in the undergrowth one would not know that this was a graveyard at all. It is thought that the headstones from the 70’s and 80’s were descendants of those buried in the unmarked cemetery 6. This little-known and not well documented site is worthy of further investigation and remembrance.


Soviet War Memorial


Next we went to pay our respects to the fallen Soviet soldiers who died in the Battle for Berlin. This is the largest Soviet cemetery in Europe outside of Russia. An estimated 13.200 soldiers are buried here. It is the 3rd largest Soviet memorial in Berlin. Around the memorial inner wall you can see 100 bronze panels. Written on these bronze panels are the names of some of the fallen soldiers buried here, only 20% of whom could be identified. A very moving memorial and well worth a visit when you are in Berlin.