In and Around Alexanderplatz

    Alexanderplatz walkingtour voicemap berlin
    2015 10 8 hs glasses
    29 Jun 2016
    Clock 60min      Length2mi
    2 ratings

    Tourdescription About the audio tour

    Alexanderplatz has a mythical status in Berlin history--from its seedy 1920s portrayal in Alfred Döblin's "Berlin Alexanderplatz" novel to the massive demonstration that took place there just before the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. This tour introduces you to "Alex" and its surroundings--its history as a flashpoint between Communists and Fascists in the 1920s and 30s, its halting reconstruction after World War II, and the current plans for reinventing it. The tour starts near the Volksbühne theatre and winds its way to the Marx-Engels Forum next to Berlin's beautiful cathedral, providing listeners with a taste of the city's unique history as told through its architecture and public art works.

    Majorlandmarks Major Landmarks

    Volksbuehne Theater, Haus des Lehrers, Alexanderplatz, the TV Tower, the Red City Hall, the Neptune Fountain, St. Mary's Church, the Rosenstrasse Monument, the Chapel of the Holy Ghost, the Marx-Engels Forum

    Startingpoint Directions to starting point

    The tour starts in front of the "Junge Welt" newspaper building at Torstrasse 6, near the intersection of Torstrasse and Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse. You can walk there from the Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz stop on the U2 U-bahn line, or from the U-bahn/S-bahn hub at Alexanderplatz. The closest mass transit link is the Mollstrasse/Prenzlauer Allee stop on the M2 and M8 tram lines or the 142 and 200 bus lines.

    Tips Tips

    Places to stop along the way:

    Einstein Kaffee, the restaurant atop the TV Tower, St. Mary's Church, the DDR Museum

    Best time to walk:

    Any time with daylight.


    Wear sunscreen -- most of the walk is unshaded.


    Plus Write a comment


    If busy commercial Alexanderplatz gives you a headache then give this tour a try. It reveals hidden gems in the area and the GPS works brilliantly allowing you slip your phone in your pocket, as move through the streets, public spaces and historical perspectives of Alex. A really well put together tour, thanks VoiceMap!

    Posted by /users/1544-193553c0-c473-4ce0-95e8-b9d5096376a5 , about 2 months ago

    In and Around Alexanderplatz

    2015 10 8 hs glasses
    29 Jun 2016
    Clock 60min      Length2mi
    2 ratings

    Soho House

    Soho House
    In and Around Alexanderplatz

    Welcome to my tour of Alexanderplatz and its surroundings. My name is Daniel Mufson; I'm an American writer and translator who's been living in Berlin for over 15 years. The area I'm showing you today is not Berlin's prettiest—not by a long shot—but it's full of odd juxtapositions and exciting history.

    You should be facing a busy road, looking at a large, elegant white building marked by gentle curves that recede from the corner, on the other side of the road.

    This is the first site we'll look at; the building shows how the twentieth century can be captured in a single structure. It was built in the 20s, and began its life as a high-end department store. When the Nazis came to power in 1933, the Jewish owners were forced to sell; it was taken over by the Nazi’s Reich Youth Leadership.

    Turn your back to the Soho House now.

    [small pause in audio]

    On your right, you can see a building with a rounded corner and a sign for “Junge Welt.” There’s a pedestrian path running just to the left of that building at a 45 degree angle away from Soho House. Follow it onto Weydingerstrasse, which is the road ahead, to begin our tour of the neighborhood. 

I'll tell you more about Soho House as you walk.

    After the war, East Germany’s Communist Party made it the home for its Central Committee until the late 1950s, followed by the Central Party Archive. After years of vacancy after the Wall fell, it became the Soho House in 2010—an elite club for creative types. So there you have it—a huge chunk of Berlin's history in one building, from the Jewish owners to the Nazi usurpers, to the Communist Party, to the capitalist elite.

    Keep walking straight ahead. VoiceMap uses your location to play commentary automatically, so you can place your phone in your pocket now and focus on your surroundings. I'll be back to tell you where to go in a minute or so.


    In and Around Alexanderplatz

    As you walk, look to your left.

    There's a building on the corner, and signs on it say "Die Linke." This is the Karl-Liebknecht-Haus, named for a prominent Communist murdered by a right-wing militia in 1919. Like the Soho House, it was once home to the Communist Party Central Committee. During the Third Reich, it was a police station and detention center; for the Leftists who had once worked there, it became a place of torture and fear. After World War II, it became home again for the Communist Party. "Die Linke," which can be translated as The Party of the Left, is the current incarnation of the old Communist party. Its persistence here shows that this area has been a stronghold for Berlin's left for over a hundred years.

    Keep going straight, until you see a sculpture of a circle with spokes in it, situated atop stick-figure type legs. I'll meet you there.


    In and Around Alexanderplatz

    As you continue straight, have a look at the building on your right. It's one of Berlin's best-known theaters.

    The Volksbühne was built in 1914, devoted to serious drama for the working class. Today, the theater draws crowds thanks to its hip style and cheap tickets, which go for as little as 6 Euros. It’s also home to concerts, political gatherings, and literary readings—usually with a leftist bent.

    On the sidewalk, you’ll see quotations laid into the stone work and street. They’re from Rosa Luxemburg, a legendary socialist. She and Karl Liebknecht were murdered the same day, she with a shot to the head. This little square here and the street that borders it bear her name.

    Cross to the other side of the street when you have a chance, and continue straight ahead to the front of the building on your left.

    Babylon Kino

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    Now cross over the street ahead, and turn left. On your left is a movie house called "Babylon", as the sign indicates.

    You can’t go through this area without thinking of the brutal murder of two prominent leftists. But Leftists committed crimes, too. In 1931, after constant police harassment, the Communist Party decided it was time to fight back. On August 9th, as two police captains and a sergeant entered this movie house, the Communist hit-team struck, killing the captains and wounding the sergeant. One of the trigger men, Erich Mielke, went on to head the East German secret police for over 30 years. A united Germany never managed to convict him for any of his actions as head of the secret police, but they did successfully prosecute him for what he did here in 1931.

    Keep walking straight until you get to the next intersection.

    Stolpersteine 1

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    Stop here and look to your right. A sign shows the intersection with Kleine Alexanderstrasse. Just to the right of it, around the corner, you’ll see a “no parking” sign with a red ‘x’ inside a red circle. Look down to the sidewalk by the sign. You’ll see three brass squares. These are “Stolpersteine”—“stumbling blocks.” A nonprofit places them where Jewish Holocaust victims used to live. The stones tell us when the Jalowitz family was deported and killed.

    We’re on the outskirts of what used to be a Jewish neighborhood in the early twentieth century. These were Berlin’s poorer Jews, recent arrivals from Eastern Europe.

    When you're ready, you can continue walking in the same direction as you were before.

    More on Stolpersteine

    Pay wave

    Walk straight ahead.

    The stumbling stones were controversial when artist Gunter Demnig first started putting them down in Cologne in 1995. People would be stepping on the names of the Nazis’ victims, and perhaps the stones would be vandalized. Since 1995, though, the project has taken off. Over 56,000 of these stones have been laid all over Europe; 7,000 in Berlin. One German newspaper called it the “largest decentralized monument in the world.” It’s a very effective reminder of what happened here.

    Keep walking to the big road ahead.

    Turn left to see the Bauarbeiter

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    Stop for a moment. You're at an intersection with a large street named after our old friend, Karl Liebknecht. To your left, past the pole with the clock on it, nestled in the trees, you’ll see a larger-than-life statue of a man with a raised arm. Walk over to take a closer look. 

    Bauarbeiter by Gerhard Thieme

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    Stop at the sculpture to take a closer look.

    It's from 1968 and is called “Bauarbeiter,” construction worker. He’s sadly neglected, lacking even a small plaque for identification. Many East German statues were famously toppled, carted off, erased from history; many are like this one, permitted to remain but in a state of neglect. If you stand to the statue’s left and look at him from the proper angle, our construction worker seems to be reaching out to touch the globe at the top of the TV tower rising in the distance. Let’s follow his gaze and head over there now.

    Cross the large street, Karl-Liebknecht-Straße, at the pedestrian crossing next to that pole with the clock on it.

    Turn right on Karl-Liebknecht-Str.

    Pay wave

    Made it across?

    Head right to walk towards the tall TV tower. While we walk, let me tell you more about street names. After reunification in 1990, one of the ways German history was often dealt with was by deciding which streets would be renamed and which ones wouldn’t. This renaming process lasted for years, and it often rubbed East Berliners the wrong way; they felt their history was being erased. Names of prominent Socialists were being removed to make way for street names that hearkened back to the 1920s. 

    Renaming streets for political ends has a tradition in Germany. The street we’re walking along, Karl-Liebknecht-Straße, was named after Kaiser Wilhelm for 60 years, until the East German—and very anti-monarchical—government renamed it after one of its heroes. Nazis did this, too; their take-over in 1933 gave Berlin an Adolf-Hitler-Platz, a Hermann-Göring-Straße, and other names that, fortunately, have been taken off the maps. It’s also hard to mourn the loss of the East German street named after Stalin. Today, some street names atone for historic wrongs, so Berlin has places named after Jesse Owens, Hannah Arendt, and Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion.

    Keep walking towards the tower.

    Berliner Zeitung and the Press Cafe

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    Stop here on the corner.

    On your right is the Berliner Zeitung building. According to a 1993 plan to redesign Alexanderplatz, it was supposed to be torn down, but since 2015 it enjoys landmark protection as an example of East German architecture. The Berliner Zeitung was the main East Berlin newspaper. The little building housing the Escados restaurant used to be The Press Café, a popular spot for East German journalists. The building’s exterior featured a mural showing a Marxist view of the press—it’s now covered up by the Escados sign. But don’t fret, because if you turn around, heading in the opposite direction of the Berliner Zeitung building, we’ll soon be looking at a truly remarkable East German frieze.

    With your back to the Berliner Zeitung Building, head straight ahead, without crossing the road.

    Plans for Alex, Pt. 1

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    Keep going straight ahead. We’re walking along the northern border of Alexanderplatz. From here, it may seem drab, but Alexanderplatz was once considered the heart of the city. Ever since World War II destroyed the old infrastructure, city planners have tried to figure out what to do with what was left. In 1993, a design plan called for the construction of 13 skyscrapers—a little Manhattan, some said. Now, you may have noticed that Berlin doesn’t have much in the way of high-rise buildings. After the wall fell, the city’s planners realized they had a huge amount of open space for construction...

    The planners thought they would maintain the traditional character of the city by restricting almost all construction to about six stories in height. This limit was set over a hundred years ago based mainly on fire department ladder lengths, which topped out at 19 meters. But the city planners figured there were two spots where the height rules could be broken—Alexanderplatz and Potsdamer Platz—because there was almost nothing left to reconstruct from before the war. Still, people who lived around Alexanderplatz—Alex, to the locals—strongly objected to so many skyscrapers. So, we've had years of haggling about the number. As of now, the plan is for 9. It all seems hypothetical, though, because over 20 years have passed since the plan won the competition and so far, not one skyscraper has been built.

    Keep walking until you get to the next intersection.

    Prep for Haus-des-Lehrers

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    Stop for a moment and look to your right. You're almost directly across from a store called “Saturn".

    You can see the plot for one of the first towers they want to build, now: Across the street, by the Saturn store—that's where a skyscraper designed by Frank Gehry is going to go up... soon, I hope!

    If you look to the left of the store, you’ll see a building about 12 stories tall with a frieze that wraps around it about three or four stories off the ground. The building is the Haus des Lehrers—the House of the Teacher—designed as a meeting place for people working in the education sector.

    Let’s cross the street towards the Saturn building, then take a left to walk towards the House of the Teacher building to get a closer look. 

    Turn left here

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    Turn left here and head to the corner for a better view of the House of the Teacher. The frieze that runs around the house is called Our Life, and it consists of about 800,000 mosaic tiles. At seven meters in height and 125 meters in length, this is Europe’s largest work of art measured by area. Artist Walter Womacka produced it in the early 1960s.

    Keep walking straight until you get to the corner.

    North and West Sides of Haus des Lehrers Frieze

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    Now turn right here. If you look left as you walk, you now have a good view of the House of the Teacher.

    The building and the frieze were supposed to make a statement about East Germany’s status as a forward-looking state embracing international modernism in its architecture. Inspired by the murals of Mexican artists such as Diego Rivera, Womacka created images showing an idyllic socialist state.

    The north side is the narrow one you see; it’s dedicated to science and technology, depicting a doctor and a chemist as well as a radio tower and a satellite dish. The west frieze, the long one that’s facing you, shows a young couple in a worker’s paradise, enjoying peace, represented by a dove flying from the woman’s hands. They’re enjoying the fruits of a productive society represented by a workers’ brigade meeting and two farmers collecting their harvest beneath a rising sun.

    Keep walking straight ahead towards the intersection.

    South side of Haus-des-Lehrers

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    Stop here and look over your shoulder to see the south wall of the House of the Teacher.

    It shows three workers, a young woman and a steelworker next to a painter completing a mural—the idea is to show the artist at the service of modern industrial society. The east side, which we won’t see, depicts friendship between peoples of different ethnicities, a nod to East German support for anti-colonial struggles. All in all, it’s a paradigmatic example of socialist realism, using typical symbols to capture the ideals of East Germany. The locals affectionately refer to the frieze as the “Bauchbinde,” which means “the abdominal bandage,” because it looks like a bandage around the building's gut.

    Now turn away from the building, and face the direction you were walking in.
    You'll see the Sparkasse bank; head towards it to turn right into the opening between the bank and the Einstein Cafe. We're going to enter the heart of Alexanderplatz.

    Entering Alexanderplatz

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    Turn right now, and head straight towards the tram tracks. Centuries ago, this was the site of a large cattle market just outside the city walls, and the market actually didn’t disappear until the 19th century. The square was re-named in honor of a visit by Russian czar Alexander I in 1805. More and more train connections and commercial venues were located here over the course of the nineteenth century, and by the 1920s, only Potsdamer Platz could rival Alex as a center for Berlin night life. 

    In 1989, Alex played a crucial role in the so-called peaceful revolution that brought down the Berlin Wall. The demonstrations against Socialist rule started in September in Leipzig, about 2 hours south of Berlin by car. Weekly demonstrations started with a few hundred people at a church and rapidly ballooned to involve hundreds of thousands of people.

    Keep walking towards the tram tracks.

    Alex: The Peaceful Revolution

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    Now, stop walking and look around for a moment.

    The climax occurred here, where you’re standing, on November 4, 1989. A group of Berlin actors and theater employees were angered by attacks on demonstrators, and they applied for a permit to hold a demonstration for democratization. It was the first demonstration in East German history organized by private individuals and permitted by the state.

    Keep in mind the Saturn building was not there back then, and imagine the entire plaza packed with people spilling out into the streets beyond the square—estimates range from 500,000 to a million, coming from all over Germany, carrying signs that said “Wir sind das Volk”—or “we are the people.” It was a milestone; five days later, the Wall fell. Today, the square remains a popular location for political demonstrations as well as holiday markets.

    Look in the direction of the TV tower. See the elevated train tracks? About 150 yards before the tracks, you'll see a large, cement circular disk with numbers going around it; the round, numbered disk is set atop a pillar, and above the circular disk there’s a metal sculpture that looks like a diagram of an atom. That's the world time clock. Start walking towards it.

    The world time clock

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    As you continue walking towards the elevated train tracks, take a good look at the world clock ahead.

    It was put up in East German days, weighs 16 tons and has one side for each of the world’s 24 time zones. The sculpture on top represents the solar system. In 2016, at the height of the refugee crisis, when hundreds of thousands of Mideastern refugees were coming to Germany, one of the refugees who’s a filmmaker decided to stand blindfolded here with a sign. It invited people to overcome their fear of refugees by walking over to hug him.

    The Syrian film director waited an hour and a half: no hugs. Finally his camera man decided to jump start the action by hugging the director himself, and that somehow gave the other passers-by the psychological license to do the same. The event became a viral video viewed by millions.

    Keep walking straight, underneath the overpass towards the TV Tower.

    Under the tracks / the old boundary of Berlin

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    Continue straight under the overpass. There’s nothing left of the old city wall, but it used to be right around here, roughly following the path of the train tracks above you, which means that you are entering into the oldest part of the city—you’re crossing the medieval border of Berlin. The medieval vestiges mostly disappeared even before World War II as a result of the city’s growth, and the whole area here became a bustling commercial center. After the war, the East Germans were slow to figure out what to do with the space.

    You'll notice the TV tower stretching upwards, if you look up and ahead of you. It opened in October 1969 and stands 1200 feet high—the tallest structure in Germany and the second tallest in the E.U. For comparison, that’s about 450 feet lower than the Empire State Building. After talk of tearing it down after reunification, it has become a beloved symbol of the unified city. There’s a visitor platform, along with a rotating restaurant just above it. Let’s keep walking in the same direction as before.

    Follow the path to the right here

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    Ahead of you is a foot-path that veers off at a 45 degree angle to the right. Go that way, towards the two-story structure with the white roof that looks a little like it has raised wings—there’s a sign on it for the Menschen Museum. Head over there.

    Head left here, past the Menschen Museum

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    Make a soft left here and walk around the museum building. I'll be back when you reach the next corner of the building.

    See the Church

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    Turn right now. You'll see a red brick building in the distance. It's identifiable as a church by the crucifix atop its spire. That’s the Marienkirche—St. Mary’s Church.

    Head in that direction over to the steps and go on up to the elevated area, passing the flat fountain pool on your left. I'll meet you there.

    What a bizarre view!

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    Stand still here with your back to the TV Tower to take in the views.

    What a bizarre mix of architectural styles surrounds us! In front of you to your left stands the Red Town Hall completed in 1869 in neo-Renaissance style, recognizable by its red body with a tower topped by a flag. Directly in front of you, the circular Neptune fountain was completed about 20 years later in 1891 in neo-Baroque style. Beyond it, you can see cranes reconstructing Berlin’s City Palace, a structure originally completed in 1451 but bombed during the war. To the right of the palace, you can see the magnificent dome of the neo-Baroque protestant cathedral, completed in 1905.

    Directly to your right, St. Mary’s Church is the oldest structure you can see, going back to the end of the thirteenth century. In between and around these historic buildings—which are often re-creations of historic buildings—you have East German residential and commercial buildings. There's the TV Tower, and the modern Raddison Blu hotel between the Cathedral and St. Mary’s Church.

    Now with the church on your right, start walking straight ahead towards the fountain in the distance.

    The town hall and degenerate art

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    Stop here for a moment. The Red Town Hall to your left is the seat of both the mayor and the City Senate. The construction going on here gives us an interesting story: As you may know, Hitler was not a fan of modernist art, which he thought was influenced by Jews and allegedly primitive cultures. Modernist works were confiscated from museums and shown briefly in the so-called “Degenerate Art” exhibit of 1937. Afterwards, the works were destroyed, or lost, or sold at a profit, and less than five percent of the confiscated works have been located since then.

    Now with the town hall on your left, let's continue walking straight towards the fountain. I'll tell you more on the go.

    In January 2010, while workers were digging across from the City Hall, they stumbled upon a metal sculpture in the buried cellar of a building that once stood there. At first, experts weren’t sure of the sculpture’s significance, but then they found several more a few weeks later, eventually finding a total of eleven sculptures, some of which they could trace to the Degenerate Art exhibit. Interestingly, the building that had stood there belonged to an accountant who helped Jews flee Nazi Germany; on top of that, the accountant sheltered one of his Jewish employees in the building until the end of the war. How artworks confiscated by the Nazis ended up in their hands is a complete mystery, though.

    Keep walking towards the fountain.

    The Neptune Fountain

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    Now stop to take a closer look at the Neptune Fountain. It's one of Berlin’s most beautiful fountains, and was commissioned by Kaiser Wilhelm II himself and finished in 1891. The Roman god of the sea, Neptune, sits on a giant shell at the center; the four women around him represent the four rivers inside what were once the borders of Prussia: the Elbe, the Rhine, the Vistula, and the Oder.

    Now walk to the right of the fountain.

    The Pope's Revenge

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    Stop here for a second and look back at the dark sphere on the TV Tower. At the right time of day, if the sun hits the sphere in the right way, the reflected light forms a cross on the windows. The East German state that built this was atheist, so the fact that a cross often appeared on the sphere was called “the Pope’s revenge.” The East German government looked in vain into trying to fix the problem, until finally the tower’s architect simply said that the light pattern wasn’t a cross at all—it was “a plus sign for Socialism.”

    If you're still facing the TV Tower, let’s head to the street corner on the left, using the path that goes through the trees in front of St. Mary’s Church.

    More on St. Mary's Church

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    Keep walking towards the street corner. A few words on St. Mary’s Church. As I mentioned, there was a church here as early as the thirteenth century, but much of the present building comes from 19th century and postwar reconstructions. The original tower was built in the 15th century; the tower's baroque dome was added in 1790, designed by the same architect who did the Brandenburg Gate. It’s the second-oldest church in Berlin.

    You'll hear from me again when you reach the street corner.

    Cross Karl-Liebknecht Strasse

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    Can you see the Block House restaurant across the road? When the traffic signal allows, cross the street towards it and then turn right. 

    Turn right; more on St. Mary's Church

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    Turn right to head back in the direction of St. Mary's Church. St. Mary’s used to be in the middle of a densely populated community before the area was cleared of ruins after the war. Many artworks from churches that were completely destroyed were moved to St. Mary’s Church, so there’s a great deal to see if you want to come back for a look inside, later. In the entrance hall, there’s a large fresco from about 1485 called “The Dance of Death,” painted during a medieval outbreak of plague. The fresco shows members of all classes of society dancing with death; it was discovered in poor condition under layers of paint in 1860, and they’re raising money now to restore the original, vibrant colors.

    Keep walking straight.

    Turn left here to head to the Rosenstrasse Monument

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    To your left, almost directly opposite St. Mary's, is a wide pedestrian walkway that spills out onto a small and quiet street called Rosenstrasse. Head that way, walking away from St. Mary’s. 

    Rosenstrasse Monument to your left

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    To your left, a small foot path leads off the street at a 45 degree angle, heading to a collection of stone sculptures nestled among a collection of trees. Go have a look.

    The Rosenstrasse Story

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    Stop for a couple of minutes to explore this monument by artist Ingeborg Hunzinger. It's called the “Block of Women” and it commemorates one of the most remarkable events of World War II. The sculptures are a relatively recent creation, from 1995, and the inscription on the back reads: “The strength of civil disobedience, the vigor of love overcomes the violence of dictatorship. ‘Give us our men back’; women were standing here, defeating death; Jewish men were free.”

    [small pause in audio to indicate end of quote]

    This was a predominantly Jewish neighborhood before the Nazi takeover. 1943 brought what was meant to be the final wave of deportations of Jews to concentration camps. Among the Jews seized were about 2,000 men who had been allowed to remain in Berlin because they were married to non-Jewish women. But now the Nazis decided that it was time to round up these men, too. They brought them here, but the wives and daughters weren't having it. On February 27, 1943, in the cold of winter, about 600 of them gathered in front of the detention center, demanding first to speak with their husbands and fathers, and then demanding their release.

    It was the largest spontaneous protest demonstration of the Third Reich. The police demanded that the women clear off; eyewitnesses say they even threatened to open fire on them. On March 2, though, the authorities started releasing the first men.

    Now follow the path away from this monument, towards the male stone figure sitting on a bench. I'll meet you at the corner of the park where the two roads surrounding it meet.

    Leave monument

    Pay wave

    Now cross the street ahead to walk straight on Rosenstrasse.

    Over the next few weeks, almost all of the 2,000 men were freed. They then had to report for forced labor in Berlin, but at least they didn’t have to go to the concentration camps. The women, it seemed, had saved the men’s lives, and as a result, the event has raised the question as to whether so-called Aryan Germans could’ve stopped the persecution of all their compatriots if they had protested with a similar courage.

    Keep walking straight.

    Left here, please

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    Turn left here, please.
 Today, some historians argue that it was never the Nazis’ intention to send the Jews in mixed marriages to concentration camps; from the very start, the Nazis may have just intended to send them to forced labor locations. Even if that's true, it doesn't detract from the bravery of the women who stood up to the Nazis.

    Walk until you get to the next big intersection. I'll talk to you again when you get there.

    Cross the street and turn left

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    Please cross the street and turn left on the other side.

    The Economics Faculty of Humboldt University

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    Now turn left.

    Across the street, you'll see a tacky looking tourist attraction called the Berlin Dungeon—but that’s not what we’re looking for. Instead, have a look to your right on this side of the road. You’re walking by an impressive stone building that belongs to the Economics Department of Humboldt University, and then just past it, straight ahead on the corner of the street, you’ll see a small red brick building on a foundation of field stones. This is one of the only other medieval structures left in the area.

    Keep walking straight towards it and I'll meet you when you get there.

    The Chapel of the Holy Ghost

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    Keep walking straight. The building on the coming corner is the Chapel of the Holy Ghost, built around 1300, probably not long after St. Mary’s Church.

    The medieval appearance has been almost entirely preserved. The chapel used to be connected to a hospital for the poor. Excavations on the land next to the building found mass graves of people who had died in epidemics. In East German days, it was used as a school cafeteria; now, it’s used for special events at Humboldt University. The interior is only open to the public on Thursdays from noon to 1 pm, but if you can take a peek inside, it’s worth it to see the lovely ribbed vaults on the ceiling.

    Originally, the hospital probably stood outside the boundaries of the city in order to isolate the sick, but became integrated into the city proper as its borders expanded.

    Walk straight ahead until you get to the next intersection.

    Sea Life

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    You're passing "Sea Life Berlin" on your right—it's a privately run aquarium. If you have kids and need a rainy day activity, this will do, but the superior aquarium is the one run by the city, located near the Zoological Garden subway station.

    Keep walking straight and, when the light allows it, cross the street ahead.

    Turn Right on Karl-Liebknecht Strasse

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    Once you're safely across, turn right, so that you're walking with the park and its green trees on your left, with the TV Tower behind you and the Cathedral dome in front of you. 

I'll be back when you're closer to the Cathedral dome in the distance.

    Finding the Marx-Engels Forum

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    Now look to your left, in amongst the trees, you'll see a large sculpture. Head over to it to take a closer look.

    Marx/Engels Forum

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    Stop here at the sculptures. This is the Marx-Engels Forum. The collection of sculptures by different artists are all dedicated to showing the triumph of socialism, and were completed in 1986.

    At one end, a white marble wall shows reliefs of the oppressed; the other end has bronze reliefs showing the happiness of life under socialism. The two ends are divided by the large central statue of Marx and Engels created by Ludwig Engelhardt. The paths to the central statue are framed by steel pillars featuring historical photos of the workers’ movement.

    The lack of monumentality may have saved these statues from being removed after reunification; Marx and Engels are larger than life, yet somehow approachable, and you can always find tourists posing with them, sometimes clambering to sit on Marx’s lap. Well, that’s almost it for my tour. Head back out to the street we were on and take a left to head towards the bridge, where I'll say goodbye to you. I'll meet you there. 

    End of Tour

    Pay wave

    Stop here on the middle of the bridge. On your left, you’ll see the City Palace under construction. Across the street, there’s the magnificent cathedral, which leads to the Museum Island, a network of extraordinary museums that you could easily spend an entire week exploring. To the right of the cathedral, over the waters of the Spree, do you see a gold dome in the distance? That's the so-called New Synagogue, a testament to the pride of the city's Jewish population during the 1860s, when it was built.

    Now, look across the street, on the right river bank; you’ll see a sign for the DDR Museum—that’s a museum about East Germany, which I like for several reasons: The exhibition texts have all been translated into English; it’s all very hands-on; it includes videos from East Germany with English subtitles; it explores the positive and negative aspects of East German life in a balanced manner; and the nicest thing about it: It’s not too big.

    Well, that’s it for my tour! We’ve surveyed over 700 years of history, heard of Communists killing fascists, fascists killing Communists, heroic acts of defiance against a fascist dictatorship, and the peaceful revolution against a Socialist one; and we’ve seen art and architecture from an enormous range of styles. If you’ve enjoyed the tour, please let others know by leaving a review.

    And my final gift to you: Across the street, you’ll see a store with a blue sign over its awning; it’s called Bandy Brooks. They sell chocolate and ice cream—lots of very nice tasting sweets, and I think you’ve earned it. If you prefer something more substantial, there’s a roofed food court to the right of the Radisson Blu hotel entrance. Enjoy the rest of your stay in Berlin, and take care! 

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