I visited the DDR (also called East Germany) again in the summertime of 1990—simply three months earlier than that sad nation ceased to exist. After retiring in mid-September, my spouse and I made a decision that East Germany was an excellent spot for a late summer time trip. It isn’t–the climate was cool and wet. Nonetheless, the journey was nonetheless instructive, and even pleasant at occasions.
In 1990, I used to be struck by the gray and drab look of East Berlin. The buildings had been nonetheless pockmarked by bullet holes from WWII. The opposite metropolis I visited (Dresden) was nonetheless partially in ruins. It was unhappy to see the pointless destruction inflicted on its stunning baroque buildings, particularly provided that the battle was all however over in February 1945. (Full disclosure: My dad was a mechanic at a US bomber base in Thetford, England throughout WWII.)
I’m glad to report that each cities have been rebuilt. We arrived at a good looking (and lengthy delayed) new Berlin airport which opened in 2020, and our resort was proper subsequent to a model new subway line that opened the identical yr. You can’t think about a much bigger distinction with New York’s subways—the attractively designed stations didn’t have any graffiti in any respect. The central a part of the road has three new stations and price about 550 million euros. In NYC, an analogous current mission price 4 billion euros.
Total, the dimensions of change in central Berlin since 1990 has been beautiful (particularly on the east facet and the wall space), extra akin to a Chinese language metropolis than to an older European capital. I can’t think about why some East Berliners nonetheless vote for the renamed communist celebration (now referred to as the Left Occasion.) Berlin is a textbook illustration of the prevalence of capitalism over communism. (Sure, a part of the price was born by German taxpayers, however what financial system allowed western Germany to have the assets to rebuild the failed communist experiment within the east?)
International locations that unified comparatively late, akin to Germany and Italy, have smaller nationwide capitals than nations with lengthy steady histories akin to Britain and France. What I like greatest about Berlin is its modesty. I recall studying that Berlin is the one capital metropolis on this planet that’s poorer than the nation over which it governs. (Is that also true?). I think that the ratio of a capital metropolis’s per capita earnings to the nation’s per capita earnings is a reasonably first rate index of corruption. Let’s hope that Berlin stays modest. It has a pleasant combine of recent and conventional structure, and a nice new museum.
Dresden is certainly one of my favourite European cities, stuffed with attention-grabbing museums. We spent 2 1/2 days there, however might simply have spent twice as lengthy.
This was our subway cease in Berlin:
And right here’s the starry ceiling of one other station: