Why does Berlin fascinate and thrill me more than any city I know? I think Alexandra Richie puts her finger on the answer in her monumental history of the city, Faust’s Metropolis:
Like Faust, Berlin can be said to have two spirits in the same breast; it is both a terrible and a wonderful city, a place which has created and destroyed and whose name is both acclaimed and blackened. […] Above all, it is a place where history could not and still cannot be hidden away.
Nowhere in Berlin can you escape the ghosts of history, and especially the terrors of 20th century politics when Europe, in Mark Mazower’s words, was ‘the dark continent’. There are many places in Berlin where any European – German or otherwise – might reflect upon words written by Joseph Roth in 1937:
Why do the European states claim for themselves the right to spread civilization and manners to different continents? Why not to Europe itself?
One such place is the Reichstag. Continue reading “Visiting the Reichstag: the ghosts of history”