Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Dem deutschen Volke

[ To the German People ]

Famously etched above the arches of the German Reichstag, “Dem deutschen Volke” – to the German people – proclaims the importance of openness and involvement from the entire public to maintain a successful democracy. The Reichstag, as a body of architecture and home of the German Bundestag, has its own visual story to convey about the German people. The façade of the building is old and preserved, the remaining 4 towers of the building all surround the central Bundestag [parliament].

Pace backwards trying to capture the best angle of the expanse of the building, and the glass paned entrance way reflects the rare blue German sky – behind these stone pillars, representing a elaborate display of power and prominence, the glass entrance serves as the barrier into the completely new interior – one that boasts functionality and translucent simplicity. Perhaps most noteworthy are the flags on the building. It still is important to realize that flying German flags are not prevalent in the country - a stark difference from our very robust patriotism back home in the states. Germany still retains a subdued patriotism, if any, so many years after the second world war.

Open to the public, the Bundestag, also serving as a living museum of modern government, is the most visited Parliament in the world, with over 15 million visitors touring the building since its move from Bonn. [It makes me wonder how many visit our bicameral Congress building in the states – not a parliament, but having a similar tradition for American people to be a standing sanctuary for what we collectively believe and debate on what our nation stands for].

The original two story Reichstag now has three. The central enclave holds rows of blue chairs, a collection of debating politicians at the podium, and a second tier for the public to come view their home-representing politicians, much like the SPD mitglieder I was paired with. The format of the political discussions at the particular time in the day [ around 3 o’clock ] dealt with rapid question and answering, and government pages effortlessly scrawling shorthand notes in the center of the room.

Illuminating the large room, the skyview of the Bundestag chamber glows with natural light – right above the governing delegations, the magnificent modern cupola spirals visiting spectators up to the peaks of the building on a circling aerial tour of everything Berlin has to offer in its horizons.

The glass dome, reflecting the bright afternoon glare, looked more like a anthill experiment with humans winding up and down the spiraling hemisphere above the parliament. As viewers spiral up, the view of Berlin changes around with each step – east, west – old, new – modern and geometric, calcified and florid emanating a much different past.

By these sights and surprises, Berlin had already captured me. It may not have allured on first impression, but potential the city had in provoking thought had me hooked.

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