Berlin native Jule Roger has a sparkle that comes across her face when talking about the city that she calls home.
“It’s everything,” she said. “To me, it represents my family and culture. When I think of my home, I am happy. Being a part of that city means a lot to me.”
First time visitors to Berlin admit that they were affected by the city in ways that they were not expecting.
Ohio University students spent the day in Berlin. One student described being in the very place that such pivotal events took place as life-changing.
A Part of History
Ben Postlethwait, a sophomore journalism student said that his visit to Berlin was a surreal experience.
“Being able to see a place that previously only existed to me through history textbooks, it’s the kind of stuff I’ve known since middle school but has never really felt like reality. I never thought I would be this close to so much history,” Postlethwait said.
Emily Mueting, a journalism student, has no ties to Berlin but said she felt a personal connection to the city after spending time there.
“For this one day, I could see history in a city. It was amazing to think that people the age of my parents were watching the fall of the Berlin Wall on the news. Today, I was there getting to see and touch parts of the wall.”
Mueting said that the way the city has rebuilt in the past twenty years proved the strength of the German people.
Students visited the Reichstag building and toured the attached glass dome which provided a 360 degree view of Berlin.
Dr. Kevin Grieves, Ohio University professor and director of the trip, provided students with a first hand account of the German reunification ceremony that took place on the stairs of the city building. The ceremony took place in October of 1990 when President Richard von Weizsacker and Chancellor Helmut Kohl spoke.
The glass dome attached to the Reichstag building, which represents the reunification of Germany, provided students with a guided tour and a 360 degree view of Berlin. Mueting said one of her favorite parts of her visit was seeing how the combination of the two architectures represents the old and new of the city.
Jenny Beckman, a student on the trip, said that being able to witness the place that she has heard about was surprising.
“It was hard for me to picture what the wall would look like just from what I have heard. Everything was rushing by and you feel overwhelmed but its a good sense of overwhelmed, you just feel into it,” she said.
Young adults who have grown up in Ohio also visited the Holocaust Memorial. Lindsey Zimmerman said actually being there was awakening.
“You hear about how Berlin was divided and how horrible it was to live on the East side and you just don’t really think much about that. When you actually see how horrible it really was you just get the new kind of sense of what these people experienced.”
Zimmerman describes putting her hand through the wall as something she will never forget.
“I saw pictures of bullet holes in memorials of the wall. People would get killed for trying to go over the wall. I have been thinking about that since I put my hand through the hole [in the wall],” Zimmerman said.
Roger’s personal connection to Berlin is something that she said she is proud of. Her grandfathers best friend was an informant for the Stasi Police and her family witnessed the events that Ohio students learned about.
“I guess part of my love for Berlin comes from knowing what my family has been through. It’s just an amazing place.”