I visited the GDR (also referred to as East Germany) in the summertime of 1990, simply three months earlier than that unlucky nation ceased to exist. After retiring in mid-September, my spouse and I made a decision that East Germany was an amazing place for a late summer season trip. It did not – the climate was cool and wet. Nonetheless, the journey was at all times instructive, and even nice at occasions.
In 1990, I used to be struck by the grey and boring look of East Berlin. The buildings have been nonetheless pockmarked by bullet holes from World Struggle II. The opposite metropolis I visited (Dresden) was nonetheless partly in ruins. It was unhappy to see the useless destruction inflicted on its stunning Baroque buildings, particularly for the reason that struggle was all however over in February 1945. (Full disclosure: My father was a mechanic at a US bomber base in Thetford, England, throughout WWII.)
I’m completely satisfied to report that each cities have been rebuilt. We arrived at a fantastic (and long-delayed) new Berlin airport that opened in 2020, and our resort was proper subsequent to a model new metro line that opened the identical yr. You’ll be able to’t think about a larger distinction to the NYC subways – the attractively designed stations had no graffiti. The central a part of the road has three new stations and prices round 550 million euross. In NYC, a latest comparable challenge price 4 billion euros.
Total, the size of change in central Berlin since 1990 has been astonishing (particularly on the east facet and the wall space), extra corresponding to a Chinese language metropolis than a former European capital. I can not think about why some East Berliners nonetheless vote for the renamed Communist Occasion (now known as the Left Occasion). Berlin is a basic illustration of the prevalence of capitalism over communism. (Sure, a part of the fee was borne by German taxpayers, however what financial system offered West Germany with the assets to rebuild the failed Communist experiment within the East?)
International locations that unified comparatively late, comparable to Germany and Italy, have smaller nationwide capitals than nations with lengthy steady histories comparable to Britain and France. What I like most about Berlin is its modesty. I keep in mind studying that Berlin is the one capital on this planet that’s poorer than the nation it governs. (Is that this nonetheless true?). I think the ratio of a capital’s per capita earnings to the nation’s per capita earnings is a reasonably respectable index of corruption. Let’s hope Berlin stays modest. It has a fantastic combine of recent and conventional structure, and a nice new museum.
Dresden is certainly one of my favourite European cities, filled with attention-grabbing museums. We spent 2 and a half days there, however we might have simply spent twice as lengthy.
This was our metro station in Berlin:
And right here is the starry ceiling of one other station: