Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Where to Stay in Berlin

Red Baron likes to stay in the heart of a city. This time I had chosen Berlin's Arcotel John F ...

The John F
... just opposite of our AA (Auswärtiges Amt i.e. Foreign Ministry) and vis à vis of the Friedrichswerder Church now used as a sculpture museum. Just a stone's throw away you will find Berlin's Museumsinsel and the reconstruction site of the Hohenzollern Stadtschloss (City Palace).

The AA-Block
What in addition makes the Arcotel so interesting are those familiar looking rocking chairs you will find in most of the rooms.

E pluribus unum will ring a bell for my American friends. While rocking the chair I surely missed a selfie stick for the first time in my life.

While I was in Berlin I visited two new museums: the Spy Museum Berlin and the Deutsches Currywurst Museum. Both museums are run privately so entrance fees are quite high and therefore fellow visitors were scanty.

During the Cold War Berlin was the capital of espionage. Naturally the exhibition of the Spy Museum on Leipziger Platz concentrates on this period although entering the building you pass some kind of historical display. Intelligence services and spys are as old as the times when people started to live in communities.

Father Joseph was Cardinal Richelieu's chief of intelligence during the Thirty Years' War who knew everything about the German emperor's commander-in-chief Wallenstein. Joseph went to the Imperial Diet at Regensburg in 1630 and succeeded - with the help of some jealous German princes - to maneuver the Generalissimus out of office with all the military consequences.

Father Joseph reporting to his boss Richelieu
Joseph Fouché was the chief of Napoleon's secret police. He was so efficient that - so they tell - even the French emperor was afraid of him at times.

Joseph Fouché
Here is a dangerous document printed in Russia in 1903. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The original title is: Програма завоевания мира евреями (The Jewish Programme to Conquer the World) and the text implies a global Jewish conspiracy. Today it is generally accepted that the Russian secret police commissioned the paper blaming the Jews for the deterioration of czarist rule and order.

The Great within the Minuscule and Antichrist
It was to be expected that the publishing of the Protocols provoked severe anti-Jewish pogroms throughout the Russian Empire. In 1920 Henry Ford had the hoax paper translated into English and had printed half a million copies while feeling a Jewish threat: The only statement I care to make about the Protocols is that they fit in with what is going on. They are 16 years old, and they have fitted the world situation up to this time. Ford's statement was harmless compared with the Nazis abusing the forged document taking the global Jewish conspiracy a pretext for their genocide.

Here are some display items. The classical place for hiding material are heels of both men and women shoes.

A Trabbi transformed into an source of infrared spotlight. The Trabant with its two-stroke engine made from reinforced plastic was GDR's Volkswagen.

The GDR served as retreat for West German terrorists of the Red Army Faction in the 1970s.

One year ago I blogged about Glienicker Brücke Berlin's favorite site for the exchange of spies.

The exchange of top KGB spy Rudolf Abel and U2-pilot Francis Gary Powers on Glienicker Brücke on February 10, 1962 is of high topicality with actors Tom Hanks and Sebastian Koch in the US-German Spielberg movie: Bridge of Spies. The German title is Der Unterhändler (The Negotiator).

As an ultima ratio secrete services eliminate people. Here are two well-known persons killed by radioactivity in the form of administered alpha-emitting radionuclides. Once incorporated there is no remedy. The moribund is wasting away to a slow and sure death.

For the entertainment of adult visitors and for keeping kids interested the Spy Museum operates a Topkapi-like system of laser beams you should cross without being caught.

Needless to write: Old Red Baron failed pitifully.

On my way to the Currywurst Museum I passed Checkpoint Charlie a site that now is fully "occupied" by special museums and souvenir shops. Quite interesting is a free open air exhibition about the development of the border check facilities. Shortly after the sealing of the border between East and West Berlin on August 13, 1961, there were just some obstacles on the street narrowing the traffic.

August 19, 1961
Upgrading of the facilities continued until summer 1989 culminating in a fully roofed checkpoint, an unnecessary expense in view of the opening of the border on November 9, the same year.

May 3, 1965
May 1974

April 10, 1986
Deserted checkpoint on November 15, 1989

The Currywurst Museum is located on Schützenstraße. The entrance fee to the Currywurst Museum is partly "reimbursed" in the form of curry wurst in a cup. So it means that you have to earn your snack visiting the items on display.

Herta Heuwer, the inventor, is everywhere.

A quarrel between Hamburg and Berlin about the creator's rights ended soon ...

... granting the Hanseatic city the intellectual priority of a novella: The Discovery of the Currywurst.

Here is HM on television interviewed by the nation's one and only late-show moderator Harald Schmidt. However from the beginning Dirty Harry's laudable performances were troubled by the small number of late viewers. So soon and not later Germany's Letterman - as he frequently called himself - became the late latter man. We Germans going to bed early don't dig what is so popular in the States.

Luckily my day did not end with the Currywurst in the Cup.

I saw a remarkable performance of Les mains sales (Dirty hands) by Jean-Paul Sartre at the Deutsches Theater ...

... famous for its former stage director Max Reinhardt.

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