Peace & War: Healing A Tortured Berlin Through Street Art

As a major hub of semi-recent world events, I knew I was in for a serious history lesson during my stay in Berlin.

BERLIN
PHOTO JOCELYN REIST

The Berlin walking tour took me past Brandenburg Gate, the site of the Nazi headquarters, the Holocaust memorial, and the Reichstag. I then spent the better part of the afternoon at Topography of Terror Museum, getting incredibly detailed information on the rise and fall of Hitler’s regime.  By the end of the day I was exhausted, both mentally and physically. I had been learning about the atrocities of World War II for years in school, yet I had no idea the full extent to which people’s rights had been violated.

I had signed up for a “subculture” walking tour for the second day of my stay in the city. My tour guide was great, pointing out both the subtle and the bold street art of Berlin. The layers of graffiti inside the Tacheles art center was unlike anything I had ever seen before; I had to make a second visit to really get my fill. The end of the tour left us at the East Side Gallery, a two-kilometer stretch of the Berlin Wall that the city commissioned various artists to graffiti or paint murals on.

BERLIN
PHOTO JOCELYN REIST

A characteristic of Berlin that my city tour guide had stressed was the idea that the city was not trying to hide or cover up anything from its past. Instead, in the time since World War II and the Holocaust, Berlin has been forthcoming in recognizing the crimes that had been committed. Mural after mural of beautiful art stretched for as far as the eye could see. Messages of peace, a better future, and kindness riddled each artist’s piece. For me, the East Side Gallery was a representation of this sincerity and a promise for a better future. And so I left Berlin, not with the same heaviness with which my introduction to the city had held, but with an optimism that our world can overcome.

BERLIN
PHOTO JOCELYN REIST

Jocelyn Reist

Jocelyn was a contributor for Jetset Times for a year, and has continued to travel around the world. Her stories are often about food, as she's an avid foodie (and knows SO MUCH about it!)

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