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Berlin

Berlin is of course the capital city of Germany with its rich and stormy history.

Oktoberfest in Munich.
We like to think Germans are diligent, organized, disciplined, and stubborn. It is important to realize that they are also fun-loving people. This aspect of German culture can be seen from their Oktobrtfests. They seem to have different forms of celebration in different regions of the country. Among them, Munich's Oktoberfest is best known. I have been there. I also have been to the festivals held in other parts of Germany.

This tradition came from the life-style of their farmers. Until 1860 AD, most of Germans were farmers, as in all other civilized countries in the world. Famers work hard during the spring and summer months. They have good reasons to hold their festivities during the month of September to celebrate their good harvests.

    Alexander I of Russia.


    Oktoberfest in Berlin.
  • How about the Oktoberfest in Berlin? They hold their festivity at a wide open plaza called the Alexanderplatz. This plaza has a rich history starting from 1805 when Czar Alexander I of Russia visited Prussia at the invitation of Prussia's King Friedrich Wilhelm III. At that time, Russia was a strong empire while Prussia was an insignificant kingdom.

    Prussia was special to Alexander I, because his grandmother came from a small port in Prussia (now Szczecin in Poland). The grandmother was Ekaterina II, known widely as Catherine the Great. It is believed that Alexander's biological grandfather was an unknown Russian soldier. Click here for Romanov's Russia.

    Let us look at some Oktoberfest photos.

    1. This sign says the Oktoberfest is progress. I was there in 2014.
    2. The bread and pastry are the main items on every dining table.
    3. Sit down, eat, and drink. The plaza is wide enough to accommodate many more people. This is a beer-drinking place.
    4. German sausages being charcoal-fired. More food items being prepared on the festival site.
    5. Colorful pumpkins mean good harvest. More pumpkins.
    6. Amusement devices for young citizens.
    7. In Europe, I become very happy whenever I meet young ladies from North America. They seem to have the same feeling toward me for having come from the same shore of the Atlantic Ocean. I met these two young ladies from Canada. We talked about maple leaves in Canada during the Oktoberfest season. Behind is the department store called Galeria Kaufhof.

  • During the Cold-War period (1945-1990), communist authorities in East Germany developed the Alexanderplatz as the heaven for workers and farmers.

    1. I am standing with a statue of their farmer in this photo taken during my first visit to Berlin in 1991.
    2. I went there again in 2004, and had this photo at the same place. The statue was thoroughly stained. New non-communist authorities did not maintain this statue properly. It is not right to leave this landmark like that. There are no communist or non-communist farmers. God created the famers many many years before Marx and Engels wrote their manifesto in 1948. Berliners should clean up this important landmark, even though it was set up by communists.

    3. This is a statue of the worker. I was there in 2004. This statue is also badly stained. Here again, I have to say that Berliners should clean up to show their respect for their workers.

      Marx-Engels in 2016 and in 1991.

    4. In 1991, I had a photo with Marx and Engels admiring the Alex Tower (Berlin TV Tower). This Marx-Engels statue was moved to a wooded area at the intersection of the Spree River and the unter den Linden, near the Berlin Dome. Like to see their statue there?

    5. Berlin TV tower is the tallest structure in Europe, and can be seen from every place in Berlin. During the Cold-War period, East German authorities set up this tower to show how great their communist world is.

      After the collapse of Hitler's Germany, the country was divided into two, and the entire city of Berlin was within the territory of East Germany. However, Berlin was also divided into two.

      Thus, the citizens of West Berlin were able to enjoy Western life-style. This created migrations of Berliners to West Berlin. In order to prevent this, East German authorities had to show how superior their system is. This is the reason why they refurbished the Alexanderplatz and set up the TV antenna to show off and to send strong TV signals.

      Their efforts did not work. This is the reason why Soviet authorities in 1961 decided to isolate West Berlin by building traffic barriers around West Berlin. This resulted in the tragic comedy called the Berlin Wall.

    6. Click here for more about divided Berlin and the unification in 1990. The Berlin Wall was torn down in 1989.


  • The Brandenburg Gate is Berlin's address No. 1, with its rich history. During the period from 1945 to 1990, when the city was separated into the East and West regions, the Gate was on the western edge of East Berlin. Thus, it served as a symbol of divided Berlin and divided Germany.

    On the west side of this gate, John F. Kennedy gage his Ich bin ein Berliner speech in 1983. In 1986, Ronald Reagan gave his Tear down this wall speech. Germany and Berlin became united in 1990.

    I was there in 1991, but was not able to approach the gate because its surrounding area was being reconstructed. Since then, I went there six times and took many photos.

    1. In 1998, I was able to take this photo from the east side of the Gate.
    2. By 2010, the place became a photo place for tourists. I had this photo with a man pretending to be a Soviet soldier. I said a few words of greetings to him in Russian, but he was not able to understand. He was not a Russian.



  • On December 31, 2015, this area was a police state, with more police vans on the back street. They were there to protect the crowd celebrating the New Year's Eve.
    1. On the back on the Gate (west side) was a music stage, as big as the Gate, where exciting concerts were taking place. The stage was facing the west.

    2. Crowds were gathering on the west side of the Gate.
    3. Among the crowds was a man dressed like an Indian Maharaza. I also met three Japanese students from Osaka. It was please to talk with then in Japanese.

    4. German mother and daughter came with bat masks. I marooned "Die Fledermaus," meaning Johann Strauss's opera about a New Year's Eve party. They understood what I was saying, and I had a photo with them. When I told them I am a professor in the United States, the daughter, still a student, wanted have a photo with me without her mother.
    5. Exciting concerts were taking place on the stage in front of the Gate.
    6. Stage and crowd. All excited and waiting for the happy new year.
    7. During the peaceful times, the west side is like this. The Reichstag building, with its giant glass dome, is seen in this photo.

  • One block east of the Brandenburg Gate is the Hotel Adlon Kenpinski. It is a very expensive 5-stat hotel, and many famous people stayed in this hotel.
    1. John F. Kennedy never staid in this hotel, because this area belonged to East Berlin. Yet, the hotel dedicated one glass cage to him. While in Berlin in 1963, Kennedy said "Ich bin ein Berliner."
    2. The main lobby in preparation for the New Year's Party on December 31, 2015.
    3. From the hotel balcony, the hotel quests were looking at what is going on in the Gate area from in the early evening of December 31, 2015. In 1945, Soviet soldiers stood at the same place.

  • The United States Embassy is 20 meters south of the Gate.
    1. The entrance to the Embassy. One police officer is standing in front of the entrance.
    2. Side view of the Embassy building from the west side of the Brandenburg Gate. The building is very big, and is separated from the rest of the city by barbed-wire fences. The size of this building and its proximity to the Gate tells how important Germany is to the United States, and vice versa.


  • About 500 meters west of the Gate along the Strasse des 17 Juni is the memorial dedicated to the Soviet soldiers who came to Berlin in May of 1945.
    1. In 1998, I took this photo of the monument. I noted that the Soviet soldier has on his shoulder a Mosin-Nagant rifle. I also noted two T-34 tanks. I like those machines, because I know how to operate the Mosin-Nagant, well-designed machine. The T-34 tanks driven by north Korean soldiers were un-invited guests to my house in 1950. When NK soldiers retreated they left many of their rifles behind. I picked up one of them and learned how to operate.
    2. In 2010, I went there again to check whether everything was OK. Yes, the place was just like before, but the T-34 tanks were repainted with a lighter color. I took a photo of one of them with the Brandenburg Gate in the background.
    3. Click here for more tank photos.

    1945 and 1991.

    A glass dome was added at the top (photo taken in 2010).


  • The Reichstag building is 100 meters north-west of the Brandenburg Gate. The Reichstag, which know houses Germany's national congress was built in 1894 for the parliament of the German Empire. Since then, the building went through a stormy history. This Wikipedia page contains many photos of this building.
    1. In 1945, during the battle of Berlin, the Reichstag was severely damaged.
    2. In 1991, right after the unification, the building became neater, still with many spots of the battle wounds.
    3. In 2012, a glass dome was added to the top of the building,

    4. Have you been inside the dome? Click here, and here.
    5. From this glass dome, one of the towers looks like this.
    6. From the Spree River, the Reichstag appears like this with its corner towers.

    7. The entrance of the building says Dem Deutche Volke (for the German People). The 1945 photo says the same thing.
    8. Indeed, inside the building, German politicians are working for the German people during their congressional meeting. Chancellor Angela Merkel is sitting below the German flag.

    9. In front of the Reichstag building (west side), there is a wide open space. On the northern age of this space, there is the chancellor's office building.
    10. Front of the chancellery's building.

    11. Government buildings on the bank of the Spree River.
    12. One government building across the Spree River. At this point, the River used to serve as the boundary between the East and West Berlins during the Cold War years. Thus, this building covers the both Berlins.
    13. This government building seen from the River.

  • The Humboldt University of Berlin is about 2 kmph east from the Brandenburg Gate along the Unter den Linden. Many world-changing persons spent their years at this university as students and/or professors, including 40 Nobels. Among those, 27 of them got their prizes while being paid by the university.

    1. The list of physicists includes Herman von Helmhotz, Max Planck, Albert Einstein, Max Born, James Frank, Fritz Haber, Otto Hahn, Werner Heisenberg, Ernst Gehrcke, Gustav Ludwig Hertz, Heinrich Hertz, Albert Abraham Michelson, Gusrtav Kirchhoff, Max von Laue, Leise Meitner, John von Neumann, Erich Regener, Erwin Schroedinger, and Wilhelm Wien,

      Among g the names of non-physicists are Otto von Bismarck, Karl Marx, Frederich Engels, Felix Mendelsson, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Heinrich Heine, Wilhelm von Humboldt, Alexander von Humboldt, Arthur Schopenhauer, and Karl Weierstrass.



    2. The main campus viewed from the unter den Linden. The statues of Wilhelm Humboldt and Alexander Humboldts are seen. Click here for a photo taken in the evening.
    3. Click here for a close-up view of their statues.
      • Wilhelm von Humboldt was the founder of this University.
      • Alexander von Humboldt was Wilhelm's younger brother. He was a philosopher interested in many things in the world. He traveled extensively around the world. Needless to say, his deep knowledge of the world his brother in setting out the plans for the university.

    4. Front of the entrance to the main hall is a statute of Hermann von Helmholtz who formulated the conservation of energy. He was a professor of physiology at this University.

    5. Max Planck's statue is also at the front yard, back of Wilhelm von Humboldt's statue.

    6. As soon as you enter the main hall, you will see the marvel wall with what Karl Marx said about philosophers. Marx says the same thing in English on his tombstone at the Highgate Cemetery in London. He says

      The philosophers have interpreted the world in various ways. The point however is to change it.

      Marx talks about the philosophers. If you are not a philosopher, what does he tell you? He tells you

      It is not enough for you to interpret this world. You have to change it.

      Was Einstein a philosopher? Yes or No, depending on your subjective point of view. In either case, he changed the world. Click here for a story.



    7. Behind the Marx marvel wall is a green-grass quadrangle, students worrying about their grades. It is always a pleasure for me to talk with those students and have photos with them. This is one of the photos I had with the students.

    8. The Law School is across the street from the main hall. The name of this street is called Under den Linden.

  • Berlin Opera also has a long history since 1742. Its home base is at the Opera House on the unten den Linden.
    1. This opera house shares the same bus station with the Humboldt University of Berlin.
    2. This opera house looks like this after six years of reconstruction. During this frustrating period, this opera house looked like this .
    3. Here is another view of this important landmark of Berlin.


  • Berlin Philharmonic Hall. The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra has a long history since 1882.
    1. Among the many outstanding conductors throughout the history of this orchestra, Wilhelm Furtwangler was the most outstanding and controversial figure. He conducted the symphony from 1922 to 1845 covering Hitler's Nazi period. He then came back in 1952 and became active until he died in 1954. He was succeeded by another great conductor named Herbert von Karajan.

    2. Yes, Hitler took advantage of Furtwangler's talent for his political cause. After the war, he was tried for the war crime for his collaboration with Hitler, but the court could not convict him because he was a God-like figure to all Germans. This is the reason why he was not the conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic from 1945 to 1952.
    3. During the war, Berlin was constantly bombed, and Berliners had to bomb shelters. However, when Furtwangler was conducting, the audience stayed still in the hall, and there are some recordings of his conducting with the bomb noise in the background.
    4. When he was re-instated in 1952, I was a high school student in Korea, and I heard about him. This tells how famous he was. Old-time music lovers become very happy when I talk about him.



  • The Konzerthaus is another concert hall for Berlin. This building was originally built for theater performances. After 1945, this theater was used for a concert hall. Since the hall for the Berlin Philharmonic was on the West side, Germans on the East side needed a major concert hall in Berlin. This elegant building has a complicated history.
    1. The square seen from the front steps of this building.
    2. The French Protestant Church on the north side of the Square.
    3. The scenic street north of this church is called the French Street.

    4. The German Protestant Church is on the south side of the Square.

    5. The Galeries Lafayette (French department store) is behind this Concert hall, on Friedrich Strasse.

  • The museum island is the area between the Spree River and the Spree Canal north of the Unter den Linden.
    1. This diagram tells the distribution of the museums in this area.
    2. The Museum Island is still under reconstruction as can be seen from this photo taken from a fourth-floor room of Berlin's Radisson Blu Hotel.



    3. Berlin Dome is at the intersection of the Unter den Linden and the Spree River. This is an old church with its history. Inside the Church,

    4. The Alte Museum is the old museum. It used to contain Egyptian items. This museum looks like this from the Unter den Linden. This museum used to display Egyptian items, and thus was called the Egyptian Museum in the past. These days, those Egyptian items were transferred to the nearby Neuse Museum. The Egyptian collection includes

    5. The Alte National Gallerie has its long history. This museum gives exhibitions of modern and classical paintings people want to see. It is always crowded.

    6. The History Museum of Germany is on the Unter den Linden just west of the Spree Canal. The museum shows how Germany became unified into a strong one country from 20 to 50 different kingdoms depending how you count. There is a giant statue of Vladimir Lenin in the main lobby. I assume this statue was set up when this part of Berlin was under communist domination. To the people walking along the Under den Linden, the museum front wall looks like this. Unfortunately, I have not been inside the exhibition hall. I will in the future. I am interested in German history.



  • The Pergamon Museum is very famous for its collection of the historical items from the Mesopotamian, Persian and the Eastern Mediterranean areas.

    1. Let us look at the map of the area from which the items are collected.

    2. The main entrance of this museum is still under reconstruction. The museum is open to the public through a temporary route. While making a detour, you can see the sign on the Museum wall.

    3. The Museum collections include many Roman items since Romans were in control of Turkey and Egypt. Here is one of the Roman governments.

    4. Another Roman structure, and Roman floor.

    5. Persian wall, and Persian warriors.

    6. Persian horses, and Persian palace.

    7. Babylonian monument, and Babylonian decrees.

    8. Dinner plates, and decorations for women.

    9. Click here for more photos.

  • Potzdamer Platz is one of the major traffic and cultural centers in Berlin. During the Cold War period, the Berlin Wall made a 90-degree turn at this Plaza. Thus, the place was ruined during that period. There are still pieces of the wall at this plaza.

    1. This is the Germany's oldest traffic signal. This means that the Plaza was a major traffic center for many years before 1945. This signal tower is standing in the middle of a wide open area.
    2. Angry Berliners are trying to make their case known at this plaza. This tells how important this place is. The traffic signal tower is seen in this photo.

      Remnants of the Berlin Wall.

      Someone praying for
      the unification of Korea.

    3. The remnants of the Berlin Wall. This photo shows how high the Berlin Wall was.
    4. This street plate says "Berlin Wall 1061-1989.
    5. The wall plates tell how the Wall was constructed and how the Wall cuts through the the Potzdamerplatz.

    6. The railway station is in the middle of the Plaza.
    7. These days, the Plaza is surrounded by shiny tall buildings like these, and like these.

    8. There is a Korean structure south side of the Wall, just outside the communist region. It is called "Unification House." I assume it was set up either by the Korean government or the Korean community in Berlin. The purpose of this Korean house is very clear. Both Germany and Korea became divided after the second world war. Germany became re-united in 1990, while Korea still remains divided. Koreans like to pray for the unification of their country. Since I am a Korean, I had to pray there. Click here to see how I prayed.

    9. Do you know how Korea was divided? Click here.

    Checkpoint Charlie of 1991.

    Armed confrontation during
    the Cold War period.

  • Check Point Charlie served as an opening between the American-occupied region and East Berlin. It is one of Berlin's prosperous shopping streets called "Friedrich Strasse." This place is still a popular spot among tourists. I was there in 1991, and passed though this point many times since then. I am very sensitive to issues concerning divided countries.

    1. In 1991, the check point was like this. I was there in 1991 and had this photo.
    2. Occasionally, during the Cold War period, there were armed confrontations like this, but no shooting events took place, fortunately.

    3. These days, you will see the portrait of a Soviet soldier welcoming you when you approach the check point along Friedrich Strasse from the American side.
    4. An American soldier will welcome you in his portrait when you move from the Soviet to American region.
    5. Not only the portrait, but also the real soldiers will welcome you. They are real men, but do not appear to be regular members of the U.S.Army. They are actors collecting tips from those tourists who pose with them for photos.

  • The Victory Column is about three kilometers west of the Brandenburg Gate along the Street of June 17. This monument is set up to commemorate Prussia's three war victories.

    Victory Column looking like an asparagus stem.

    Statue of Bismarck
    looking at the Column.

    Before 1815, Germany consisted of 20 to 50 small kingdoms (depending on how you count). Prussia was one of those kingdoms, but had a superior army. Then, did Prussia unify Germany by sending its troops into all those kingdoms? No. Prussia fought and won the three wars against the following foreign countries.

    1. 1864. German-Danish War (Second Schleswig War). Germany captured the port of Hamburg from Denmark. There is a giant stature of Otto von Bismarck in Hamburg. During Germany's war against, Austrian army came to the battle field and helped German army.

    2. 1866. Austro-Prussian War. While fighting together with Austrian troops, Prussians found out how strong they were compared with their Austrian counterparts. Thus, Prussia declared war against Austria and won the war. The crucial battle took place at the battle ground of Battle of Königgrätz.

    3. 1870. Franco-Prussian War. Afraid of Prussia's growing strength, France's Napoleon III declared war against Prussia, but Prussia thoroughly defeated the French army and annexed two provinces of Alsace and Lorraine into one German province called Alsace-Lorraine. Click here for my Alsace-Lorraine page.

    4. 1971. Deutsches Reich (German Empire) was established.

    Bismarck, Moltke, and Roon.
    During the Austro-Prussian War, Austrian soldiers fought with muskets, while Bismarck's Prussian army was equipped with the rifles with the cartridge ammunition system. Thus, the Prussian troops were able to attack Austrians during the rainy days. In addition to Bismarck, the Prussian army was led also by two brilliant Generals. They were

    1. Helmut von Moltke

    2. Albrechtt von Roon

    Let us look at some photos.

    1. The Victory Column looks like an asparagus stem. Its top and Its base. The Column surrounded by a traffic circle, and seen from the Street of June 16, and seen from the elevated Tiergarten Metro Station

    2. The statue of Bismarck seen from the Column, and the statues of Moltke, Bismarck, and Roon. The statue of Moltke , and the statue of Roon.

      Brandenburg Gate viewed from the Victory Column.

    3. Behind the statue is a wooded park. Beyond the park is a residential area with apartment buildings. There, I spotted a German lady with her mother. I had a very friendly conversation with them. They both are fluent in English, and I had a photo with them.

    4. The wide street between the Column is called the Street of June 17, named to commemorate the revolt in East Berlin against the Soviet rule on June 17, 1953. This is photo of this street taken from the Column. The Gate is hidden by a large circle set up to provide a summer-time excitement. The red city hall building is seen.

    Charlottenberger Gate serves as the entrance to the Technical Unv. of Berlin.

  • The Charlotenburg Gate is a about 3 kilometers west of the Victory Column, and the large area just west of this landmark is the territory of the Technical University of Berlin, often called TU-Berlin. The "territory," instead of "campus" is an appropriate word because the area is so large.

  • TU-Berlin, with its distinguished history, has been and still is is one of the most best engineering universities in the world.

    Among the TU's outstanding alumni was a rocket scientist named Wernher von Braun. As you know, he was responsible for constructing the engineering base for sending a man to the moon in 1969.

    There was another outstanding scientist from this university. His name was Eugene Paul Wigner. He studied chemical engineering while he was a student. He did his research work at Max Volmer Laboratory for Physical Chemistry.

    However, Wigner's heart was always in physics. He diligently attended physics seminars held at various places in Berlin.

    After finishing his degree at this university, Wigner moved to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physical Chemistry, which is now called the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society. This institute is now located at the campus of the Free University of Berlin. When Wigner moved to Göttingen, he became a full-time physicist.

    Wigner's portrait at Princeton.
    In 1931, Wigner moved to Princeton University in, U.S.A. There While in Princeton, he published many papers, produced many students. John Bardeen and Frederick Seitz were among Wigner's thesis students. He also participated in many national projects including nuclear energy issues.

    In 1963, Wigner received the Nobel prize in physics for his contributions to the theory of the atomic nucleus and the elementary particles, particularly through the discovery and application of fundamental symmetry principles.

    The Eugene Wigner Building is one of the three biggest buildings on campus of TU-Berlin. Click on the map for a larger image.



  • Let us come back to TU-Berlin. The University now has a new building named after Eugene Paul Wigner. It is one of the three biggest buildings on the campus. Click here to see where this building is located. Two other large buildings are

    1. Main building, and its entrance.

    2. Technology Innovation building. The tall building seen from the Charlottenbug Gate.

  • The Wigner Building must be new. I was not able see this building when I was at the TU campus in 1998.

    1. At the entrance to the building, there is a brass plate saying Eugene Paul Wigner Building. I was so happy to see this plate that I had a photo of myself standing on the side the plate.

    2. I met a group of graduate students near the building. I asked them whether they know who Wigner was, and they knew. I then told them I published seven papers with him. They became surprised and asked me how old I am. I said two hundred years. We all laughed. When I told them I was a graduate student at Princeton, they started becoming serious.

    3. I also talked to a group of undergraduate students studying for their exams at the lobby of the building. I asked them who Wigner was. They said they do not know. It is OK. This is how the history is made.

    4. The main lobby was designed for study, relaxation, as well as social or academic gathering. A product of modern architecture. Here is another photo.

    5. The directory in the lobby says this building houses biological physics, chemical physics, -- all kinds of physics.

  • The usual prejudice against engineering schools is that they are like factories and lack humanity. Certainly the TU-Berlin is not that kind of place.



    1. There are many open spaces for students and professors to think. Look at these linden trees.

    2. The entrance to the main building welcoming students.

    3. The entrance to the main library.

    4. The interior of the student hall in the main building and a statue of Nike in the hall.

    5. The Technology Innovation Center (left) is next to high-tech companies.

    6. I have not had a chance to look at their curriculum, but I assume it is very strong in liberal arts. Good engineering schools are good because of their strong liberal arts programs. I know this because I did my undergraduate study at a good engineering school called "Carnegie Institute of Technology" - now called Carnegie Mellon University. I am able to make good webpages thanks to my undergraduate training there. Click here for my Carnegie page.

  • To be continued. I have many more photos to post. Please come again.