I find myself standing there in awe. Just staring at the remains of the Berlin Wall in the East Side Gallery. For years I’ve read about it in history books and watched movies and documentaries about it. The history behind the Berlin Wall is so much bigger than me and so much bigger than any blog post could ever cover.
But there are stories that have never been told. Stories one can only know if they listen closely and keep their eyes wide open.
I make my way along the remains of the wall. The world around me disappears. I no longer see the tourists with their selfie sticks. I no longer hear the traffic. It’s just me and the wall with its untold stories.
And what do I mean by these stories?
You see, if you look at the wall a little bit closer – it’s filled with stories. More than just the obvious. At first I saw a small text on the level of my ankles saying ‘This is where he proposed to me, 2013.’ I take a few more steps and read another small print; ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.’
The key is to look at everything a little bit closer and to take your time doing so. You will understand a lot more. This is one of the reasons I enjoy solo travel, as it allows me to give my full attention to whatever I am doing.
I take another step.
‘They say true love only happens once and you know it because you spend the rest of your life hoping someone makes you feel the same.’
Gasping for breath, I sigh and wish that whoever wrote this isn’t right.
The stories on the wall, which repeat themselves, are of love and peace. Of freedom from political disorder. Reading these stories feel somewhat comforting to me. Despite all the history and all the war, this is a place where people come together to respect the past.
The paintings of people leaping over the wall make me think of its dark history again. Think of the people who walked here before me in fear and despair. I feel almost disrespectful snapping photos with my iPhone and enjoying my strawberry ice-cream in the heat of the summer sunshine. But I guess this is how we learn. By travelling to places like this. By coming face to face with history and by walking in the footsteps of those who were here before us.
It’s not only the remains of the Berlin Wall that talk though. If you walk down the streets or just sit in the S-Bahn and look outside the window, you will learn about Berliners and their culture through street art. I myself could wander around the streets of Kreuzberg or Friedrichshain for days on end.
Actually, even the cobblestones have a story to tell.
If you take a look at the ground in front of many apartment buildings in Berlin; you will come across with Stolpersteine, stumble stones. These stumble stones are set in front of the homes of victims of the Nazi prejudice. Reading the stones leaves me haunted.
Each stone has a name.
Each stone has its victims faith written on it, for the purpose of making the Holocaust a more comprehensible human story.
And for it to never be forgotten.
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