Thursday, June 1, 2017


We arrived in Germany’s capital in the late morning and headed for the hotel via bus and subway. I had arranged to meet some folks from IES Abroad Berlin within two hours of our arrival, so we quickly checked in and I was on my way. Jessi opted to stay at the hotel and take a shower. The appointment was on the opposite side of the city. IES is a Chicago-based study abroad provider that will facilitate my three-week German course next year. The meeting with the center director and special events coordnator went well and I’m satisfied with the facilities and lodging situation for the students.
Around 4 pm Jessi and I explored the area near our hotel, Ku’damm, which stands for Kürfurstendamm and refers to the boulevard of upscale shops and restaurants in the western part of the city. We visited the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church on Breitscheidplatz. Allied bombers destroyed most of the church in 1943, but a portion remained. Built in the late nineteenth century, the Protestant church showcased the conservative values of the long-reigning Hohenzollern family. In the photo above, Jessi is standing next to a bas-relief sculpture in the entrance hall of the damaged spire.

I pointed out to Jessi the location of the Christmas market attack this past December when a Tunisian asylum seeker killed a dozen people with a truck. (Yes, between being a military guy and historian of genocide, I would point something like this out.) We also came across some of the Stolpersteine or stumbling stones that demarcate throughout Berlin where Jewish families once lived before the Holocaust. Finally, we made our way to KaDeWe which stands for Kaufhaus des Westens, the largest department stores in continental Europe and in some ways a symbol during the Cold War of Western Germany’s economic prosperity vis-à-vis communist East Germany. We went to restaurant in the “winter garden” on the seventh floor. Jessi had a nice meal and I had a café latte with a nice window view of West Berlin.
We returned to the hotel just after 8 pm and endeavored to get to bed early. Our hotel is nicely located next to Wittenbergplatz with easy access to the U Bahn and near plenty of shops and restaurants. I chose this location out of familiarity. I had stayed with my students at this hotel this past January. Anyway, Jessi and I had little luck getting to sleep due to jetlag, rather surprising since I had been up for over 25 hours. It was a long day and we had a good time together.