Berlin, Germany

Berlin is an amazing city that held my intrigue each day that I went out venturing alone. Aesthetically, it was not so pleasing to the eye but it had so much character and quirkiness. All of the buildings were very grey and resembled 1960's architecture from other countries such as Russia and Ukraine. Germans were very friendly, helpful and city-orientated. I was happy to notice that many people cycle around the city and enjoy other Germans' company - a breath of fresh air from Londoners. 

I visited Berlin for 5 days and walked on foot for most of my time there. I couldn't suss out the payment for the U-Bahn (Underground) and decided to use Google Maps to help me get around. This meant that I got to see of streets that I might not have been able to see whilst taking public transport. On my first day I visited The Berlin Wall, The Topography of Terrors, Potsdamer Platz and walked around the shops. On the second day I visited the Stasi Prison.


During my travels, I was able to visit the Berlin-Hohensch√∂nhausen Memorial. This was a guided-tour through the original East Germany Stasi Prisons that were in use during the 1960's. The 'Stasi' are notorious in Germany for their irrational convictions that put innocent lives behind bars and psychologically tortured people through vigorous interrogation. 

The aim of the Stasi (
Official State Security of East Germany) was to imprison anyone who was thought to be conspiring against the General Democratic Republic. Arrests were achieved by intensive spying procedures, similar to some of the known contemporary surveillance that has been discovered today: these methods include tapping into phone lines, breaking into homes and reading letters to family, finding notes that displayed any negativity towards the GDR, and most importantly, any evidence that could be seen as an inclination to flee the East and join the West. 

Whilst in prison, the inmates were subjected strict interrogation on an almost daily basis . Psychological persistence was used to wear down prisoners and instil feelings of guilt for their falsely-accused political dissidence against the state. Their hopes of freedom, if any remained, lay in the hands of a judge who would give them their sentence. This was the most important information as it gave them a sense of time in a empty and disorientating world and provided them with glimmer of hope that they will one day be released. But acquittal could not be ascertained without a signed confession for their crime. People had no choice therefore, but to confess for a crime that they did not commit.

I joined the 2.30pm English Tour around the Prison with our tour guide Peter Kemp. Every tour guide at the prison is an ex-prisoner and now a passionate Historians, devoting their lives to uncovering the shocking details behind the Germany's horrific past. The tour was unforgettable and a must-see if you ever visit Berlin. 

There was a lot of Graffiti in Berlin that is inspired by a lot of anger and frustration towards middle-class groups of people buying properties and land that homeless people are living in. This is called gentrification - the wealthier pushing out the less wealthy. I saw quite a few graffiti works with the words 'fuck gentrification' clearly written. 

Sophie Louise Middleton