Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I was in Berlin last week.  The first thing hubby and I saw when we turned onto the street to our motel was this piece of ruins.  Oh, my!  It so happens my work-in-progress has to do with architecture, art, Germany, and war.  Right away I felt sure I'd be incorporating this structure into my story.
I found a historical marker and discovered its name and painful past.  Anhalter Station was the site of the deportation of thousands of elderly Jews during WWII.
After spending a few days seeing historic sites in Berlin, Chuck and I added the Deutsches Teknik Museum of Berlin to our itinerary.  On our walk over we went through a park that was directly behind the Anhalter Station.  I was fascinated by some obvious ruins we saw there. 

Clearly something had happened here before. But what?

When we got to the museum we found out. The museum itself and the long stretch of park between it were once part of the Anhalter Station complex..  We discovered this amazing model of the way it used to be.

The section of the station that impressed me so much with its grandeur and obvious sense of history was actually only part of a much larger building.

Can you see the section that is still standing in real life? The ruins that are left are almost dwarfed by the rest of the building.
The long foundations we saw in the park appear to be related to these railroad lines coming out of the back of the station.
Here's how the Anhalter Station looked after the allied forces bombed Berlin.

Naturally the allies would target a major transportation center like this.  And if I were a Jew sent to a death camp I would probably want it to be bombed.  But I also realize those same Jews must have traveled through this station countless times in happier days. History is so painful, so convoluted.

The picture above represents only the actual passenger station.  There was so much more! Parts of this amazing complex are still standing and the Teknikmusuem are built into them.. The train exhibit was mostly housed in the round houses where trains are repaired.  Here's the model.

And this is a view from outside where one of the round houses connects with another building..
There is evidence of war damage and reconstruction in the buildings that remain.

I love nothing better than exploring old historic sites so I was really in adventure heaven.

The Germans are making good use of their history. I loved that there were toiletten in this small old building outside.

They also are fearless about facing the dark side of their history.  I could show you some exhibits related to the deportation of Jews from this station but I don't want to trivialize that piece of history in any way so I will save it for a separate post.

I wanted to go to the Teknikmuseum for Chuck because he is a train man and figured I'd learn somthing useful too - maybe get some pics of trains that my characters might have traveled on etc.  Wow!  Turns out, this was my absolute favorite stop in Berlin - I felt so immersed in history and I also knew that it was feeding somehow into my story.  I can't wait to discover how.

If you find yourself in Berlin, do visit the Teknikmuseum.  It is about so much more than one train station and the history of railroading.  There is information on shipping, aviation, manufacture,and technology in general.  It is an astounding place of interest to all ages!


  1. This was a wonderful post about Germany, WWII, and about you discovering your story. Thanks so much for taking the time to share it with us.

  2. Now I know where to take the two of you next! :-)

  3. Carol, later I will post more pics of the model that demonstrate how much historical information can be gained from such displays.

    Miriam, now you have me curious and excited!

  4. Fascinating. I will look forward to your next novel with relish.

  5. The history is sobering. How wonderful, though, to take that trip through time and glimpse what used to be there. Thank you for sharing, Joyce! Can't wait to learn more about your w-i-p. Welcome back, too!

  6. Yes, Clara. Sobering history. Thanks for dropping by.

    Great to hear from you Leon. I always value your support!

  7. Your post brought back so many memories of Berlin, one of my favorite cities. I remember the first time I saw the Anhalter Station - it is startling. I am curious about your next story. I wrote my dissertation on popular girls' fiction written during the Third Reich, so you know you have peaked my interest.

  8. You went to Berlin... wow. That is so cool! I am looking forward to seeing more and more of your pictures.

    My oldest is almost finished with the Diary of Anne Frank. This will be an interesting post for her to read!

  9. Alex, yes Berlin is such a fascinating city. I love it too

    Donna, hi. Hope your daughter enjoys the entry. I'll blog about the Holocaust aspect of this story a little later.

  10. Joyce---very cool. There are models in Hannover of what the city looked like before and after the war. I've seen them several times but they never fail to take my breath away. Looking forward to hearing more about your time in Berlin.