Saturday, June 3, 2017

Wannsee and Potsdam

Saturday brought light and darkness. We entered the House of Evil before we sauntered into a summer palace. We took the S-Bahn to the city of Potsdam, the capital of the state of Brandenburg just southwest of Berlin. We got off the train a few stops earlier at Wannsee, however. This area of interlocking lakes and verdant landscapes is breathtaking. Picture sailboats, quaint restaurants, and beautiful homes hugging the lakeshore under a rain-soaked sky. I plan to spend at least a couple of days here again in the future. Our main purpose in coming to Wannsee was to see the infamous location of the so-called Wannsee Conference that took place on 20 January 1942. Members of the Nazi party, the SS, and district officials gathered at a villa on 56–58 Am Großen Wannsee. Supervised by Reinhold Heydrich under the auspices of SS-Reichsführer Himmler, 15 individuals sat at a dining table enjoying fine wine, cigars, and gourmet meals to discuss, over jokes, the systematic murder of Europe’s Jews. This visit led to rich discussions about good and evil between Jessi and me.

We arrived in Potsdam in the early afternoon and, with a break in the rain, opted to walk to the Sanssouci Palace from the main train station. Frederick the Great built this grandiose summer home in the mid-eighteenth century as a retreat to shield himself in a way from all the territorial wars he started and to devote himself to arts and culture. Jessi and I walked the grounds of the palace while awaiting our scheduled tour with an audio guide. Sansscoui was the highlight of our trip for Jessi so far, and it was certainly a welcome change from the house of horror in Wannsee. After the palace we made our way to the Brandenburg Gate (not to be confused with Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate) and walked through the shops and restaurants on Brandenburg Strasse. We ate at a street side restaurant and talked about relationships. The sun was shining. On our return to Berlin we stopped at a grocery store in the Bikini Mall and bought bread, cheese, and fruit to keep in our hotel room. Monday is Pentecost and we’re concerned about all the shops being closed and starving tomorrow!