The Brandenburg Gate is a military monument that has come to symbolize peace and unity. Here are a few facts about the iconic monument that you probably won’t know.
It’s one of the most iconic scenes of recent German history: Hundreds of thousands of people celebrating before the Brandenburg Gate as the Berlin Wall fell on November 9th 1989.
The Gate has now come to represent German unity and freedom since the end of the Cold War and divided country.
Not only is it “a symbol of the German-German divide”, but it also “stands for the reunification” of East and West Germany in 1990. Despite being heavily damaged in the Second World War, the Gate has withstood the test of time.
Today, people from all over the world link the Brandenburg Gate with freedom, tolerance and cosmopolitanism
But there is far more to the famous landmark than initially meets the eye.
Here are a few facts that you probably didn’t know about the Brandenburg Gate.
1. August 6th 1791 – that’s when the Gate was opened, after having been commissioned by Friedrich Wilhelm II. The Gate was erected not as a political symbol, but instead for a rather more simple reason – to mark the end of the boulevard Unter den Linden.
2. The Propylaeum of Athens’ Acropolis – that’s what the gate was modelled on.
3. 1806 – that’s when the Quadriga (the sculpture of the horse-drawn chariot on the top of the Gate) was stolen by Napoleon’s soldiers and taken back to France as a victory trophy. But after Napoleon was defeated, the Quadriga was returned to Berlin.
4. January 30th 1933 – that’s when the Nazis held a torchlit procession through the Gate to celebrate Hitler’s seizure of power.
5. 1945 until 1957 – that’s when the Soviet flag was flown on the top of the Gate. However, the flag was ripped down during the peaceful protests on June 17th 1953, when demonstrators protested against the political and economic conditions in the GDR.
6. June 12th 1987 – that’s when the then-US President Ronald Reagan made his rousing speech before the Gate, exclaiming, “As long as this gate is closed […] it is not the German question alone that remains open, but the question of freedom for all mankind […] Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”.
7. December 1989 – that’s when the Gate was opened as a border crossing by West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and East German Premier Hans Modrow.
8. 2000 until 2002 – that’s when the Gate was renovated by Berlin’s Foundation for the Protection of Monuments, costing a massive 6 million Euros.
9. 4000 – that’s the number of counter-demonstrators who gathered to prevent 300 supporters of the anti-Islam group Pegida from marching from the city hall to the Gate on January 5th 2015. In addition, all the lights at the Gate were switched off.
10. 26 metres – that’s the height of the the Gate, which is made up of six Doric columns on either side, supporting a transverse beam 11 metres deep. There are five walkways through the gate.
11. 130,000 – that’s the number of people who gathered at the Gate following the attacks on an Orlando gay club last year. The Gate was lit up in rainbow colours to commemorate the 49 victims.
12. The luxury Adlon Hotel, the French and the US embassies – those are the buildings which surround the Gate, in its prime location at Pariser Platz, otherwise known as Berlin’s “gute Stube” (“best room”).
13. The Märkisches Museum in Berlin – that’s where you can see the horse’s head from the Quadriga sculpture.
14. About a million – that’s the number of people who flock to the Gate every year for its famous New Year’s Eve party, complete with music and fireworks.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803 – 1882
And I behold once more
My old familiar haunts; here the blue river,
The same blue wonder that my infant eye
Admired, sage doubting whence the traveller came,—
Whence brought his sunny bubbles ere he washed
The fragrant flag-roots in my father’s fields,
And where thereafter in the world he went.
Look, here he is, unaltered, save that now
He hath broke his banks and flooded all the vales
With his redundant waves.
Here is the rock where, yet a simple child,
I caught with bended pin my earliest fish,
Much triumphing, —and these the fields
Over whose flowers I chased the butterfly,
A blooming hunter of a fairy fine.
And hark! where overhead the ancient crows
Hold their sour conversation in the sky:—
These are the same, but I am not the same,
But wiser than I was, and wise enough
Not to regret the changes, tho’ they cost
Me many a sigh. Oh, call not Nature dumb;
These trees and stones are audible to me,
These idle flowers, that tremble in the wind,
I understand their faery syllables,
And all their sad significance. The wind,
That rustles down the well-known forest road—
It hath a sound more eloquent than speech.
The stream, the trees, the grass, the sighing wind,
All of them utter sounds of ’monishment
And grave parental love.
They are not of our race, they seem to say,
And yet have knowledge of our moral race,
And somewhat of majestic sympathy,
Something of pity for the puny clay,
That holds and boasts the immeasurable mind.
I feel as I were welcome to these trees
After long months of weary wandering,
Acknowledged by their hospitable boughs;
They know me as their son, for side by side,
They were coeval with my ancestors,
Adorned with them my country’s primitive times,
And soon may give my dust their funeral shade.
By Robert Frost
March 7, 1923
A winter Eden in an alder swamp
Where conies now come out to sun and romp,
As near a paradise as it can be
And not melt snow or start a dormant tree.
It lifts existence on a plane of snow
One level higher than the earth below,
One level nearer heaven overhead
And last year’s berries shining scarlet red.
It lifts a gaunt luxuriating beast
Where he can stretch and hold his highest feast
On some wild apple tree’s young tender bark,
What well may prove the years’ high girdle mark.
Pairing in all known paradises ends:
Here loveless birds now flock as winter friends,
Content with bud inspecting. They presume
To say which buds are leaf and which are bloom.
A feather hammer gives a double knock.
This Eden day is done at two o’clock.
An hour of winter day might seem too short
To make it worth life’s while to wake and sport.
In the winter forest
The trees move in the Winter Forest,
They sway with the gental breeze.
Naked as the leaves fall to the ground,
And the water will slowly freeze.
The forest casts shadows on the snowy grounds,
As the light of a thousand stars shine through.
The angels dance and sing in the snow,
As the sky turns to a midnight blue.
One angel sings of the moon and stars,
Another sings of the sun.
They play in the trees and howl with the wind,
Their wings glistening as through the forest they gracefully run.
By day the Winter Forest is quiet and peaceful,
But by night it’s alive with games and song.
The angels, fairies, moon and stars,
Beckon you to come along.
Join in with their dance in praise of the night,
Run with the wolves fast and free.
When the sun comes up they will say goodnight,
Silent again the Winter Forest will be!
As an addition to my post on Sophie Scholl and the White rose movement , here is a link to the six documents (in English) that they publish and that in the end got them arrested!
I have spent many years now living in the Irish countryside , so I just loved being in Berlin! the train system is just amazing, you never have to wait more than ten minutes before the next train arrives 🙂 , you can get a weekly ticket and train hop all day.
The Berlin Stadtbahn was the most fun as it sits above the city streets and offers amazing views ….
History and details
The Berlin Stadtbahn (“city railway”) is a major railway thoroughfare in the German capital Berlin, which runs through Berlin from east to west. It connects the eastern district of Friedrichshain with Charlottenburg in the west via 11 intermediate stations including Hauptbahnhof. The Berlin Stadtbahn is often also defined as the slightly longer route between Ostkreuz and Westkreuz, although this is not technically correct.
Yesterday I posted some images relating to the fantastic Jewish memorial in Berlin, I did not want to add any words to these images because I just wanted to and hoped that these images would share a feeling that I had walking and standing among the stones of this amazing public sculpture.
Today’s post is a little different, while In Berlin I came across the story of Sophie scholl and the body of Students of which she was a big part, called the “white rose“, Sophies’ story needs words, is all about words!. Words they, and she,this group used, words full of truth! yet by the simple act of using these words so many of these students including Sophie lost there lives!
If you want to try and understand what life was like under the Nazi dictatorship of the 1930’s and 1940’s, in Germany then you would be hard pushed to find any better example than the life story of Sophie scholl and the white rose movement, This was a group of German students who like many felt extremely disturbed and deeply saddened by the events they found happening around them and they simply wanted to express this feeling.
For the act of using their minds and voices to express what was a natural reaction, they lost their own lives. Sophie Scholl is one of the most famous of these student she was executed on 22 February 1943 (aged 21). She is just one individual among millions who lost their lives during the horrors, but I feel her story adds pure clarity to the events that she could not and would not tolerate unfolding around her!
How many of us today would be so brave?
“Who among us has any conception of the dimensions of shame that will befall us and our children when one day the veil has fallen from our eyes and the most horrible crimes – crimes that infinity outdistance every human measure – reach the light of day”
It is an absolute tragedy and as Sophie herself said inhuman CRIME that someone who could and should have spent a lifetime adding to the world around herself, contributing to man kind! was killed by men who only held bitterness and discrimination of all kinds in their hearts.
I feel that by knowing more about human people like Sophie scholl, I understand the history of the Nazi’s much better, these men and women who formed their ranks embodied the very heart and soul of evil and bitterness, heartless discrimination of all kinds and not just racist discrimination but ones based of what they felt was a social right to be better than other humans based on nothing!
There is no-one better than anyone else, there is no position based on wealth, location of birth or physical standing that puts anyone higher in life than anyone else !! PERIOD!
I would like to declare myself a member of the “white rose” ! as I know if I lived Back then at 21 I would have wanted to join!
Sophie Scholl – an ANGLE in the darkness !!