History

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Brandenburg Gate

Tomorrow is the 23rd anniversary of German reunification, which took place on the 3rd October 1990, some eleven months after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The 3rd October is a public holiday in Germany – which means for those travellers staying with us at The Circus that the city will be both quite busy, and also all the shops will be closed. Luckily there are plenty of things to see and do…

Brandenburg Gate

German Unity Day is the starting point for a four day festival around the Brandenburg Gate and the Straße des 17. Juni that runs through the Tiergarten park. There are food and drink stalls, fairground attractions, and live music on a number of different stages, the largest of which can be found on Pariser Platz, in front of the Brandenburg Gate itself. Sponsored by a well-known fizzy drink company, this stage will also feature the world’s biggest karaoke party, featuring the man behind the legendary Bearpit Karaoke events in Mauerpark. Entry is free, and the Facebook event page is here.

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Resistance Museum

(photo: Adam Carr)

Tomorrow we have our regular Tuesday morning history talks for Circus guests, and this week we are returning to a place that we have not visited for a while: The Memorial and Museum to German Resistance to the Nazis. The memorial and museum is located in the Bendlerblock, which served at the headquarters for the Wehrmacht (German Land Forces) until it finally surrendered to the Red Army on the 2nd May 1945.

It was from here that Stauffenberg and his co-conspirators plotted the 1944 failed assassination attempt on Hitler. Stauffenberg was executed in the courtyard, and the tour reflects not only on his resistance attempt but those others that were opposed to Hitler and the Nazis, as well as attempting to answer the difficult question as to why there was not more opposition within Germany during the twelve years of the Third Reich.

The tour takes place on Tuesday 24th September at 11.30am. It is free for Circus guests, but please note you will need a public transport ticket to and from the memorial and museum, and that places are limited so we ask you kindly to sign up at reception.

TU Berlin 1968

(Above: Architecture department of the Technical University of Berlin in May 1968, Photo:  Holger Ellgard)

On Tuesday 17th September  we will be once again welcoming a speaker from the ZeitZeugenBörse e.V. (Centre for the Witness to Contemporary History), an organisation that brings together eyewitnesses to different periods and moments of history to share their experiences and memories with people like us.

For the next event, we are extremely pleased to once more welcome Mr Klaus Schwerk who will be coming to Fabisch for the third time. On previous occasions Mr Schwerk spoke to us about his German childhood, from 1929 until the end of the Second World War. This time he is coming to speak about his experiences as a student in the aftermath of the War and then, later when he returned to Berlin, the student protests of 1968 and the dramatic effect they had on German society.

The talk will be in English, is open to all, and is free… although we will be collecting contributions towards our own donation to the ZZB to help them continue in their important work.

Where: Fabisch at The Circus Hotel, Rosenthaler Straße 1 (U8: Rosenthaler Platz)
When: Tue 17th September at 6.45pm

B 145 Bild-F005836-0007

From 1949 until 1990 roughly four million people left the German Democratic Republic for a new life in the west and the Federal Republic of Germany. Over a million of them passed through West Berlin and the Marienfelde Refugee Centre. Alongside the East Germans heading West, the centre was also responsible for processing all arrivals from the socialist bloc, whether they were seeker asylum, political defectors or anything else.

Before an individual could move on from West Berlin, he or she needed to be processed by members of the Allied intelligence services – American, British and French. This process was designed to establish whether refugees were bringing with them any information that could be useful in the Cold War intelligence war… therefore the amount of time individuals had to stay at the camp could stretch out depending on circumstances. Since 1990 the centre remains in use, processing ethnic Germans from eastern Europe moving to Germany, and it is also one of the main Berlin centres for processing asylum seekers – 90% of which are sent back to their country of origin.

On Tuesday 10th September we are offering a free tour to Marienfelde, to learn more about the fascinating history of the place.

Please note that although the tour is free for Circus guests, places are limited so you will need to sign up at reception, and you will also need to purchase a public transport ticket to get you there and back. It promises to be a really interesting tour, so we hope there will be a lot of people joining us on Tuesday morning for the trip south to Marienfelde.

Marx and Engels
Next Tuesday’s history tour is a new addition to our repertoire of explorations through Berlin’s fascinating past, as we embark on a morning wandering around some of the sights and important locations from the forty-odd years when the eastern half of the city was the capital of the German Democratic Republic. Led by Circus Communications Manager Paul – who along with Jim has a long-held fascination with the history of East Berlin – the tour will leave from the Circus and explore the streets around Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Karl-Marx-Allee, Alexanderplatz and more. You will hear stories about life in East Berlin and the history of communism in Germany and the German Democratic Republic, as well as the decline that would lead to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the reunification of 1990.

The tour is free for Circus guests, involves some walking, and places are limited, so please make sure you sign up at reception.

B 145 Bild-F005836-0007

(Above: The Marienfelde Refugee Centre, West Berlin. Photo: Bundesarchiv, B 145 Bild-F005836-0007 / Müller, Simon / CC-BY-SA)

On Tuesday 20th August we are extremely pleased to be welcoming to The Circus another eyewitness speaker from the Zeitzeugenbörse (Centre for Witness to Contemporary History). This is part of our monthly series events that we have been running for the past two years, in which we invite speakers to come and join us for a while and tell us their own personal stories about different moments in Berlin and German history.

This month we are delighted to welcome Arik K. Komets-Chimirri, who will be joining us to talk about his personal experiences, from being born in Estonia to fleeing to Germany in 1941 before emigration to the United States of America in 1952. In 1967 Mr Komets-Chimirri returned to Germany with the American Army, based in Wiesbaden and Berlin before his duties took him to Vietnam and back to the USA. In the 1970s he returned to Berlin to become the Supervisor of the American and British screening office at the Marienfelde Refugee Centre in West Berlin, where those fleeing the GDR – and other Eastern bloc countries – were processed.

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Bild 173-1288(above: Mauerbau – the building of the Berlin Wall, August 1961. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 173-1288 / CC-BY-SA)

Tomorrow is the 13th August, and the 52nd anniversary of that summer’s night when – as Berlin slept – the government of the German Democratic Republic closed the border with West Berlin, cutting a city in two and separating couples, families and communities. What began with rolls of barbed wire and border guards standing at intervals along its length would develop into one of the most highly fortified borders in the world, encircling West Berlin in a 160 kilometre loop that became the very real representation of Churchill’s famous “Iron Curtain” that divided the capitalist west from the communist east.

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Unterwelten Tour

Our Tuesday history tours are always pretty special, but next week (13th August) we are extremely excited to be able to offer Circus guests the chance to “go underground” with Berliner Unterwelten – who run tours to bunkers, subway stations and other subterranean locations in the city. The tour is going to be absolutely fascinating, and as always it is completely free for Circus guests. Places are limited however, and so you will need to sign up on reception.

Please note, that due to the conditions of the cooperation with Berliner Unterwelten, children under the age of 10 are unable to participate on the tour… we ask for your understanding!

Underground Tour with Berliner Unterwelten, Tuesday 13th August 2013

 

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