I have been in Berlin for a few days, visiting the historical sites and apparently missing all the political action back home over Syria. I had wanted to visit Berlin ever since the Berlin Wall came down. The city has recovered from its disfigurement when the socialist government of East Germany turned the whole of their country into a giant prison in which every citizen was regarded as a potential enemy of the state (other than the socialist elite of course). It is odd to think that this appalling system of repression and government was in operation on our own international doorstep as little as 24 years ago.
My favourite places visited were the DDR Museum which has recreated a restaurant used by the socialist elite, complete with the same recipes (as a food historian this was living history to me) and fragments of the Wall around the city.
Berlin is now a tolerant and open city, a far cry from 1933 to 1989 when oppressive regimes were in place. Indeed, its openness now puts in the shade many other western, democratic capitals.