Berlin – Freedom in the City

On July 12, 2012 by James Watson

I spent one day touring Berlin. A bicycle goes a long way. Berlin has a dark and recent history, for anyone educated in the united states anytime after World War II. During this period America has confronted many perceived fears – Communism, Islamism, Terrorism – but it has never lost sight of the notion that it is fighting for freedom. I expected Berlin to be a dark, sad, depressing place, with people avoiding conversations that had to do with political or nationalistic opinion. Instead I came to love Berlin in one day, and find it to understand the word “freedom” in a way that only a European nation can.



I cannot confess to “know” Berlin, though I plan on returning soon for an extended stay. Maybe a year or two. During this time I hope to better understand the difference in education about history and their place in the world as it compares to how I was taught in the public education system of America. There is still a wall where once Berlin was divided into East and West, though it is now a gallery of street art. Check Point Charlie, a once important passage between east and west Berlin is now only a tourist attraction. And the people from the former west can recognize an former east Berliner merely by their accent.


But Berlin has it figured out. The people have access to health care and education in a way Americans don’t. There is a sense of independence and understanding; there is opportunity, but alternatives to living a corporate way of life. The pace is slower. And the people seem to understand that life is not valued quantitatively.

These are some images as I experienced Berlin in one day. I will to go back to see how that one day truly defines Berlin in a modern, global context.


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