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Berlin: Friday


Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche

Originally uploaded by elmada.

Friday morning I slept in until 8. I wrote for awhile and headed out after awhile.

My first stop was Starbucks at the Brandenburg Gate for a smoke-free coffee. I hung out until 11 when the free tour of Berlin started.

Free Berlin Tour

The free three and a half hour tour was absolutely fantastic. We started out at the Brandenburg Gate and made our way, on foot, to a number of interesting sites around Berlin—virtually all of the sites were in the former East.

My favorite stop on the tour was the chocolate shop—which had chocolate miniature replicas of the Memorial Church, Reichstag, and other places.

It’s impossible to really describe the tour—we saw so much and walked so many places, that to try and list them here would only serve to trivialize it.

Stasi Museum

After the (surprisingly) long free tour was over, my next stop on my agenda was the Stasi Museum, which is located at its former headquarters.

I’m guessing that the facility is better hidden today as a museum than it was as the actual Stasi headquarters.

I got off the U-Bahn at the correct stop, looked at a map, emerged from the station and promptly got lost. The museum appears to have at least two names. On the CityTourCard map, it was listed as the “Stasi Museum,” with its website at www.StasiMuseum.de – the signage on the street announces it as the “Forschungs- und Gedenkstätte Normannenstraße.” Naturally this disconnect left me a bit confused.

Not only that, the building isn’t on the street where it is listed as being located. It’s inside a courtyard—Haus number 1—which against all reason was next to building 22, and its number was in small type.

Anyhow, eventually I found the building and went in finding that it was worth the look.

The Stasi Museum is, in fact, the old headquarters for the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (MfS), and I wasn’t surprised when the lady at the front desk told me that I could find a small cafeteria on the second floor since most museums usually have a place to get a bite to eat. However, I didn’t care as I was desperate for a toilet.

From there I wandered around the museum’s first floor (err… second to the Americans), before making my way up to the second floor (US: third). The second floor was home to the officers of the Ministers for State Security, including the main office for the minister, Erich Mielke. These offices were, essentially, preserved the way they looked in 1989 when the GDR collapsed, and I found my way wandering through several different offices, lounges, and the kitchen where the minister’s breakfast was prepared.

The only thing missing were the actual files—which have been removed for safe keeping and/or reconstruction.

After that I went through the Minister’s office and the minister’s private area, which included a toilet.

The next room was the cafeteria, which in the brochure I purchased was described as

Room 11 The Cafeteria. The MfS Generals had their coffee breaks here from the meetings which took place in the conference room.

I failed to make the connection, until after I walked through the door.

Where once the Stasi Elite were served coffee, I could now relax and enjoy the same.

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