I visited the DDR (also referred to as 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 a super spot for a late summer season trip. It isn’t–the climate was cool and wet. Nonetheless, the journey was nonetheless instructive, and even pleasant at instances.
In 1990, I used to be struck by the gray and drab look of East Berlin. The buildings have 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 lovely baroque buildings, particularly on condition that the warfare 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 comfortable to report that each cities have been rebuilt. We arrived at a gorgeous (and lengthy delayed) new Berlin airport which opened in 2020, and our lodge was proper subsequent to a model new subway line that opened the identical yr. You can not think about an even 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 value about 550 million euros. In NYC, an identical current challenge value 4 billion euros.
General, the size of change in central Berlin since 1990 has been beautiful (particularly on the east facet and the wall space), extra similar 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 get together (now known as the Left Get together.) Berlin is a textbook illustration of the prevalence of capitalism over communism. (Sure, a part of the associated fee 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?)
Nations that unified comparatively late, resembling Germany and Italy, have smaller nationwide capitals than international locations with lengthy steady histories resembling Britain and France. What I like finest about Berlin is its modesty. I recall studying that Berlin is the one capital metropolis on the 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 revenue to the nation’s per capita revenue is a reasonably first rate index of corruption. Let’s hope that Berlin stays modest. It has a pleasant combine of contemporary and conventional structure, and a nice new museum.
Dresden is considered 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: