Berlin: Wannsee Villa

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To the west of the city (but still within its boundaries) lies Grünewald, an area of forests and lakes. The trees are all very young though, because about 70% were cut down after the war for badly needed fuel. It’s not the only reminder of those tragic times: the reason we came here was to visit the Wannsee Villa. Overlooking the lake, this house is where the notorious conference took place in 1942 at which the decision was made to pursue “The Final Solution” for the Jews. The whole history of the Holocaust is laid out in detail – it’s particularly chilling when it focuses on individuals whose photographs they show at the beginning and whose fate you can then trace. The room where the conference is held is kept much as it was, with documents from the meeting on the table, and biographies of the participants are displayed on the wall – certainly, many were later executed as war criminals, but what shocked me that was several lived on into the 1980s with seeming impunity.

This was not a visit you could enjoy, yet life goes on. Right next door is this quirky lion statue and a lovely little lakeside restaurant, Seehaase, where we enjoyed lunch and a beer. That’s Berlin.

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