Saturday, October 14 – We took some time to study what we might want to do on this, our final (and beautiful!) day in Berlin (our plane out of Berlin’s Tegel Airport was scheduled to depart at 6AM on Sunday, October 15, with a change in Amsterdam and another in Detroit, landing us in Greensboro around 5PM [the plane out of Detroit was late, so we actually ended up in GSO circa 6P] on the same day, after about 18-20 hours of travel). We wanted to take advantage of the weather, Page was planning a lovely send-off meal for us for the evening, and Ini was working at the antiques shop all day, so we figured more walking would not be amiss.
Page had wanted to re-visit a Nazi War Crimes memorial that he highly recommended to us, and so we set off to Grunewald, a suburb of Berlin.
Here’s the scoop about Grunewald Station, then I’ll show you some somber pictures.
Grunewald Station was inaugurated on August 1, 1879 and called “Hundekehle Station.” It was renamed Grunewald Station in 1884. In 1899, Karl Cornelius built the station building, the architecture of which is very similar to the buildings built at the same time in the residential area of Grunewald.
The residential area encompasses about 234 hectares. To drain the marshy area, 4 artificial lakes were created (Lake Diana, Lake Hertha, Lake Koenig, and Lake Hubertus). In 1899 the residential area became an independent municipality, and was incorporated into Berlin in 1920 as part of the district of Wilmersdorf. The avenue Koenigsallee is the main thoroughfare. The lake properties were in demand by industrialists, bankers, publishers, writers, and scientists—among them very important people who wanted to build their villas in large parks. There was a high proportion of Jewish inhabitants.
Some of these residents were notables including Karl Abraham, Max Alsberg, Vickie Baum, Karl and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Isadora Duncan, Lion Feuchtwanger, Samuel Fischer, Carl Fürstenberg, Maximilian Harden, Engelbert Humperdinck, Alfred Kerr, Fritz Kreisler, Lilli Lehmann, Franz von Mendelssohn, Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, Max Planck, Walther Rathenau, Max Reinhardt, Ferdinand Sauerbruch, Hermann Sudermann, Hans Ullstein, and others.
From October 1941 until February 1945 the goods (freight) station at Grunewald was one of the deportation stations for Berlin, from which more than 50,000 Jewish citizens of Berlin were deported to the extermination camps, where they were murdered. A commemorative plaque and two memorials remind us of these events.
On April 3, 1987, a commemorative plaque with a Hebrew inscription was placed at the signal box. On September 18, 1991, the memorial to the right of the station building’s entrance was unveiled, created by Karol Broniatowski on behalf of the Senate of Berlin. It consists of a long concrete wall with negative imprints of human bodies. In January 27, 1998, a memorial commissioned by the German Railway Society and created by Nicolaus Hirsch, Wolfgang Lorch, and Andrea Wandel, recalls the numerous deportations to the concentration camps on metal sheets lined up on the ancient loading platforms of the freight yard.
The plates, which visitors walk on, are arranged chronologically, based on the good record-keeping for which the Nazis were known. The numbers deported depended on the capacity/size of the destination extermination camp, and on the date of the deportation: the later in the war, the fewer Jews were deported (generally speaking). The photos above are a mere sampling of the many, many plates paving both platforms of the entire loading area of the freight yard (and remember, the passenger boarding area was quite nearby, yet not used by the Nazis for these people).
Yet, the suburb of Grunewald today is a lovely village-like area that is quiet and beautiful and full of friendly people, interesting architecture, fun flowers and yards, and echoes of the vast fortunes that were invested in the area in the 19th century.
While we had ridden the S-Bahn to Grunewald, we decided to walk back into the Charlottenberg area of the city where Page and Ini live. As it happens, we circled through a big city park with a lake, passed near where Ini’s Garden House is, and then into the part of the city where Ini works, so we stopped by her shop for a bit.
Throughout our adventures, Page had carried with him a “Speedminton” set. This is a game Page and Lee play in the city park near the apartment. It is a variation of badminton, but the shuttlecock is heavier, the racquets more robust, and the net is optional. Page says it’s nearly always too windy in Berlin to play badminton, so speedminton is their racquet game of choice.
I volleyed with him for a while, and then Jack took over, so I could take a few pix.
We walked home and settled in for a while, as Page gathered the materials for his shrimp special dinner as our send-off. He was busily chopping and dicing and prepping by the time Ini returned from work about 7PM, and we all enjoyed the fruits of his labors, plus a bit of wine and a nightcap to acknowledge the final moments of our great trip.
A cab was reserved to arrive at our door at 4AM, and we insisted that no one get up to see us off, but of course, we were foiled as they both saw us into the cab and set us on our way.
Fare thee well, Berlin, until the next time we meet.
As for Ini and Page – okay, now it’s your turn to come west to our stomping grounds!