Today, I went to Hochenhousen. A prison where the Soviets imprisoned people for various things-the people were mostly innocent- ‘“convicted” of different things and called Enemies of the State. People were put in complete isolation for years. They were interrogated. The only person they had any contact was their interrogator who they eventually began to trust-and shouldn’t have. The prisoners would be forced to say things that were not true about things they “knew” because the interrogators wanted more information from them. They had to be careful of what the said otherwise their family and friends would be in trouble also. I cant even imagine being in a place where I could not escape. Where I was not allowed to sleep, and when I was, it had to be on my back with my hands above the blanket otherwise I would be woken up. I cant imagine being locked in an outdoor cell with rain or snow pouring down on me while a guard with a gun stood above me, not knowing how long I would be there. What happened in Eastern Europe is almost not even imaginable for me. Its so hard to actually believe that people could be so inhumane to others. The blame was always passed on when everyone involved is to blame for not stopping anything. The crazy part is that these people, the guards of the prison, the murderers, and even the prisoners are still alive. I feel fortunate to live in a time when I have the possibility of talking with the people who lived during these times.
When I was in the prison, I felt more responsible for the wrongs that happen today. Like the Algerian War when the French citizens ignored what happened to the Algerians because of the French, I am as responsible for what happens in the world today. I can’t ignore the fact that wrongs like what happened during the Cold War still happen today. I want to be informed. I want to start my publication. Maybe this is how I will change something. Maybe this is what I am meant to do. I believe in it. I want other people to believe in it too.
After the prison, we went to the Purgamont Museum. This place was amazing. So beautiful. They had great Greek creations and many ancient things. I did not stay long (30 minutes) because I was on a schedule and had to go to the Jewish Museum.
The Jewish Museum is one of my favorite things that I have seen so far. Definitely. The architecture, not the items on display, is the most powerful thing I have seen yet. The slanting walls, the un-level floors, the branches from the main hallways, the empty space all conveyed a feeling of confusion, loneliness, nausea, and being uncomfortable. Jewish history is uncomfortable. It was uncomfortable for the Jews for thousands of years and it is uncomfortable to talk about. The display cases along the branched hallways were made of glass. The glass was black with a clear opening to display whatever is inside. While you look at the objects, you can see yourself in the black part of the glass. Small details like this surround everyone in the museum as you become a part of the museum.
There was a large metal door at the end of one hallway leading to an outside room. The room had huge, cement walls that were probably 4 stories tall. The room was freezing cold. And dark. And quiet. There was only one stream of light coming from the upper right hand corner. It was just a slit. As I walked close to the light, it seemed to get further and further away. Going into the corner trying to reach the light, each step I took the temperature dropped. The corner seemed to never end. I wanted to turn around and get out. Entering the door initially, there is a ladder on the left. The bottom of the latter is more than 10 feet high and is too high to reach. The top of the ladder goes to nowhere. The room is completely closed except for the metal door where I entered and the slit of light in the angular corner to the right. Except, when I went all the way into the corner beneath the light, I turned around to look at the ladder. The light projected onto the latter a shadow which extended the rails of the ladder down so that it looked as if I were to go beneath the ladder again, I would be able to touch it and climb up. If anyone spoke in the room, the noise was blurry and nothing could be understood. The room was one of the most amazing and terrifying things I have ever experienced. I knew I did not want to be inside by myself. In fact, I did not want to be inside at all. I think the room was meant to symbolize isolation, imprisonment, hope, loss of hope, confusion, and suffering. It was absolutely brilliant.
Another part of the museum contained an otherwise empty room filled with noise. On the floor were 10,000 metal faces. Walking on them, a horrible noise is made. The faces have a voice. When no one walks, they are silent. Every person is either helping them have a voice, or participating by lack of participation…making them silent. It felt wrong to walk on the faces. I only did it so that I could take photos and videos. It was very powerful as well. The entire museum was such a work of art.
Kaylee and I were the only ones who stayed and wanted to walk through the rest of the museum. We began our tour and shortly into it, we were interrupted by one of the guys who works in the museum. He stopped us and we ended up talking with him for an hour. He smelled bad. He was smart and talked about life to us-complete strangers. I think he was very smart and that he would be an interesting person to get to know more. I had a feeling that he wouldn’t have a Facebook, but asked him if he did anyway so that we could stay in contact. Of course, he didn’t. Email is just as good. This is one of my favorite things about being away-meeting people. I love meeting people. Everyone has their own story and I love hearing the stories. I love trying to figure people out. How they think. So interesting to me.
Kaylee and I left after talking with Christoph. We successfully navigated our way through Berlin back to Hotel Alex and then to meet people for dinner at Lebanese food. I had a pina’ colada-DELICIOUS.