Returning to last week
I didn’t mention in the last entry, but last week we went on a tour of the Funkerberg, which is a radio signal research and development facility and the place which first made radio broadcast possible in Germany. We were shown a slideshow of all that the company does and how certain technologies work, and then we were given a short tour around the company. We only looked at their testing areas, as they did not want to disclose any company research or work that was being done. However, it was still interesting to see their technologies. The most interesting was their radio signal isolated testing area, which is pictured below.
Week 3 started out with a trip to Dresden. Dresden was almost completely destroyed by Allied air-raids near the conclusion of WWII, in which approximately 25,000 German civilians were killed in the atrocity.
Now, Dresden is being rebuilt into the beautiful city that it once was, with exacting detail to match the original structures. Walking across the bridge over the Elbe and into Dresden was like walking into a small slice of history. We were given a foot tour of the city, where we were able to see the Semperoper, an opera house in which Richard Wagner and Carl Maria von Weber have been notable features, the Hochschule für Musik Carl Maria von Weber, in which the president of the school is Sir Colin Davis, the Zwinger, which was originally built by the order of Augustus the Strong to celebrate the wed the Fürstenzug, a wall illustrating the procession of the royal family of Dresden, the Frauenkirche, and the Dresden Palace.
After the tour, we were given around 2 hours to roam around Dresden and do what we wanted. I went with a group of 3 other people. We were fairly hungry, so we went to a seemingly popular burger place named Hans im Glück, which was very excellent. After eating, we visited the Dresden Art Museum, which housed classical paintings and sculptures ranging from the 1500s to the late 1800s. Most of the artwork consisted of individual personal portraits, family portraits, images of the ideal, goddess-like physique, candid-esque scenes of town activity, religious themes, usually depicting angels and demons, and castles set upon sweeping landscapes. It was all very beautiful.
The next place we visited was the Frauenkirche. From the name, it may be implied that it is a Catholic church, which it originally was. However, today it is a Protestant church. Inside was an absolutely beautiful, baroque-style interior featuring depictions of angels in heaven on the ceiling and religious figures lining the walls.
After returning from Dresden, we went on a tour of the Reichstag, which is the main governmental parliamentary building of Germany and where Angela Merkel, the Prime Minister of Germany and head of the CDU, works.
We were given a tour of the building, and saw where the parliament meets, multiple pieces of modern art scattered about the building, and the spiral, which provided a view of many landmarks in Berlin.
Chemical Engineering Plants
The next two tours were amongst the most physically challenging experiences that I have encountered so far, as they involved trips to two chemical engineering plants. One of the facilities converted garbage into diesel fuel, and had various unpleasant smells floating around, as well as a room that was filled with ammonia fumes and normally had to stay closed. The next tour, however, trumped the garbage conversion plant in every way, as it took place at the Berlin public water treatment facility. All of the sewer from Berlin went through this plant and was processed to make it usable again. The smell of the place was almost unbearable. It was the smell of thousands of pounds of human wasted that had been mixed together and left to sit. Even after leaving, the stench lingered in my nose, and most likely on my nose as well. I wanted to go back to my apartment and take a shower, but I still had one more tour to go on that day.
Wannsee Conference House
The Wannsee Conference House is a building that is famous for being the place where the discussion and organization amongst members of the NSDAP of the Final Solution took place. Today, it is a museum that is dedicated to the history and details of the final solution. In it, one can find a map of the emigration of Jews during the time of WWII, the history of the Nuremberg Laws, details pertaining to the Jewish Question, the history of the development of the classification of Jews as a race rather than only a religion and culture, quotes by various family members of people who died in concentration camps during WWII, the list of people who attended the Wannsee conference, and the entire text of the document detailing the Final Solution. Considering the size of the building, the amount of information it contained was quite dense. Every wall was covered in photographs and information, and it would likely take half a day to go through every room and take in all of what each offered.
Jewish Art Museum
Next up was the Jewish Art Museum, which comprised a mixture of both modern and classical Jewish works of art, as well as notable people of Jewish heritage (not necessarily religion). The modern pieces of art were not very interesting to me, as they were mainly variations of a gray rectangle with slight flourishes. The classical art, however, was very nice.