Touring Berlin

Reichstag

A view of the Reichstag
(photo by Michelle Graessle)

by Michelle Graessle

The barely full tour bus hit every bump in the unfamiliar road with little regard to its travel-worn passengers as it made its way toward the city. This particular bus was not immune to typical characteristics of other buses. The smell was stale and the air slightly stagnant. Seemingly unsuspectingly, this bus rolled along the highway in typical fashion; however, it was only a matter of time before this bus and its cargo would be enveloped by a foreign culture steeped in such a colorful history and taken completely by surprise.

The best way to describe a driving tour of Germany’s capital city Berlin is as a virtual reality history book. Instead of reading from a text, Liane Schulz, our tour guide is talking about what happened over a worn-out PA system. Instead of looking at pictures, the Point Park passengers are seeing it with their own eyes.

“And if you’ll look to your left, you’ll see the Brandenburg Gate,” she nonchalantly mentions.

The Brandenburg Gate is a cultural and historical icon.  (photo by Alexa Blanchard)

The Brandenburg Gate is a cultural and historical icon.
(photo by Alexa Blanchard)

The Brandenburg Gate has had an interesting view on so many decades of history, its symbolism changing with the times. Originally upon its inception, it was a symbol of peace. Then in Nazi times, it was a symbol of the party. It had a front row seat to that long, terrible reign and then later the end of the Berlin Wall.

As the bus rolled on, the tour guide mentioned another interesting tidbit about Berlin. “We have 170 museums in Berlin. That’s more museums than days it’s raining here,” Schulz  said.

And how couldn’t there be? With so much history to explore, it comes as no surprise that Berlin is home to a multitude of museums. The tour guide pointed out a museum at Checkpoint Charlie, one of the former connecting points between East and West Berlin. There is the Topography of Terrors that chronicles many aspects of Germany under Nazi rule, which was very close to the group’s hotel in Berlin, and there are also many diverse art museums to visit, many on Museum.

Just as diverse, Schulz explains, are the types of people living in Berlin. Of the 3.5 million citizens, the top three groups of immigrants come from Turkey, Croatia and other parts of Eastern Europe. One hundred and eighty countries are represented in this 775-year-old melting pot of a city. Also included in the population of Berlin are students. Berlin is the setting for to four universities and around 260,000 students. Because of this, nightlife is a large part of Berlin’s culture, giving it a unique reputation to the rest of Germany.

Students explore the Holocaust Memorial. (photo by Connor Mulvaney)

Students explore the Holocaust Memorial.
(photo by Connor Mulvaney)

Berlin attracts 1.2 million visitors per year, the guide said. Also not a surprise as on a driving tour alone the students saw the Reichstag building, Potsdamer Platz and the Sony Center, the Victory column, also known by American soldiers in World War II as the “Chick on a Stick,” and so many other iconic tourist destinations and historically relevant locations. The Point Park students and faculty stretched their legs at the Holocaust Memorial, a striking outdoor sculpture and commemorative museum in the midst of their initial tour.

This dynamic and diverse city also offers other unique experiences to travelers in its distinctive gastronomy and cultural nuances. If a tour bus could talk, it would tell visitors that Berlin is a must see for anyone interested in Germany as a travel destination.

DPA’s classic news in a modern world

dpa_newsroom_politik3by Connor Mulvaney

Chief photographer of the Deutsche Presse-Agentur Michael Kappeler believes taking one good photograph is all you need to market news photos.

“Before in the print world, we tried [to get] one good photo which tells the whole story, but now that’s changing,” said Kappeler.

Today in the digital world, photographers are able to tell stories in countless photographs. However, this is not how DPA conducts its business.

“Print is still important,” said Kappeler.

A surprising statement from a modern newsperson, but in his opinion, it’s a justifiable one.

“It’s the moneymaker for us because we cannot earn money in the digital world,” said Kappeler.  “So we make money with the print clients and so we have to satisfy them.”

Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH, founded in 1949 in Germany and based in Hamburg, has grown to be a major worldwide operation serving print media, radio, television, online, mobile phones, and national news agencies. News is available in GermanEnglishSpanish and Arabic. The English service is produced in Berlin, which is also the location of the central news office. The DPA has offices in 80 countries, 12 regional German bureaus along with 50 additional offices in Germany. Point Park students and faculty visited the Berlin office and also heard from Christian Rowenkamp, head of corporate communication, on DPA operations.

In particular, DPA aims to please clients with its “classic” news photographs.  That is, one photo that shows the action and emotion of a situation, and tells the story with one exposure of the camera sensor. Kapperler said the agency has 100 photographers in Germany alone to accomplish that compared to the eight the Associated Press has in all of Germany.

By using the word “client,” Kappeler is of course referring to media outlets.  Not the public.  This in opposition to its  American counterpart, AP, who caters to its  news partners but also permits some public access to its website, stories and photographs. .

“We are only providing news to business clients,” said Kappeler.  “They can use these pictures or information to bring to their clients because we have no way to earn money back [from non-business clients].  So they can [sell] news to their clients, so they can buy the news.”

The DPA’s international reach and commitment to its German clients make it vital to reporting German news.  Its client list proves it. Nearly 100 percent of German media outlets are partners of DPA, according to Kappeler.

“For…the Olympics, or the pope’s election… we send our own DPA photographers to countries where these things happen,” said Kappeler.  These photographers have two jobs – “They do general news, but they also follow the German interest.”

dpa_web_02A hard concept to understand for Americans, as the United States is often at the center of attention when it is involved in global affairs.  For smaller countries like Germany, an extra effort is required to report international news.

“If something happens, there is not always a German interest [reported by other outlets],” said Kappeler.  “The best example is the Olympics.  If a German sports team reaches fourth place, nobody will take a picture of them because [reporters] just follow the medal winners.”

One DPA German photograph of interest worldwide was the recent one that Kappeler himself took – of outgoing Pope Benedict’s hand with the papal ring about to be destroyed per Catholic Church regulations.  He said he took a chance on that photograph, but it was used in countless publications.

Thus, DPA’s commitment to its clients leads them to exactly what they need.

“It’s our task, then, just to follow the German interest because there is a huge media market in Germany, so we have a lot of clients and they want to know what the Germans are doing.”

Point Park University students tour ZDF with Wulf Schmiese

Wulf and his co-host chat with musical act Frida Gold

Wulf and his co-host chat with musical act Frida Gold

by Johnie Freiwald

On their fourth day in Berlin, Point Park students and faculty visited the public television network Zweites Deustches Fernsehen or ZDF. They were awake bright and early to walk to the station with their tour guide because the day held something special: They were ready to be part of the studio audience of ZDF’s morning show, MoMa Café.

During the show the students experienced a live performance by Frida Gold, a German pop band. ZDF’s MoMa Café is a modern, trendy show similar to the United States’ “Good Morning America.” They regularly bring musical acts and guests that are well known by the young people in Germany to attract a youthful audience.

The hosts of MoMa Café frequently took time to speak with their studio audience. However, because the show is completely in German, most of the Point Park students were more or less in the dark for the entirety of the show. Despite the language barrier, MoMa Café has a similar format to many American morning news and talk shows with guests, musicians, video segments, games, and interruptions to present the weather or breaking news.

After the show, the group met with one of the show’s presenters or host, Wulf Schmiese. He spent most of his career as a hard-news journalist and had studied in the United States for a number of years during his time in university. Schmiese worked as a political correspondent for a Bonn newspaper in the early 2000s and then went on to be one of the founders of the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine. Then, in 2009, he left his longtime post as a political correspondent to cohost ZDF’s MoMa Café.

He explained that because ZDF is a public broadcasting system, and the one and only national television station in Germany, it does not have to worry about revenue. German residents must pay 16 euros a month to get this channel. “It’s a huge amount of money we get every year, billions of dollars,” he said. “For viewers, we mark it [pour programming] down to 16 cents for getting information and entertainment. Our show, I describe it as a salad. … the meat is the political stuff and the green and red stuff is the entertainment.

“It works well. It’s part of the democracy here. We’re like a newspaper. We’re like a magazine … a little bit of everything.”

The audience of ZDF's morning talk show, MoMa Cafe.

The audience of ZDF’s morning talk show, MoMa Cafe.

Schmiese imparted his wisdom about broadcasting and ZDF to the Point Park students and a group of young Palestinian students studying international diplomacy who were also visiting Germany. He explained what journalism means to him: “You have to find the middle. You have to find a way that it is not too banal or too stupid for people who are informed and have an idea of what’s going on in Palestine or wherever. You can’t be too complicated just for the professors and have a lot of people saying ‘What is he talking about.’  So you really have to find the middle way.”

He prepares himself by reading voraciously and writing his own scripts. That helps his presentation of the information, something he said he is still working on and critiques continually. He develops four to five questions for his interview subjects on the show but still tries to be natural in his work.

Schmiese is also the producer and editor-in-chief for the show, and he said the planning process starts days ahead of the broadcast. The staff is flexible, though, for breaking news. “We work like a newspaper,” he said. “The team watches what happens overnight and we have a telephone conference at 8 a.m. for the next day’s work.

The students were able to take away the level of Schmiese’s experience and expertise as well as his love for his work. His past work as a correspondent – sometimes even joining the president, chancellor, and foreign minister on trips – as well as his current post as a successful morning show host helped him, he told the students.

Schmiese answered questions about German’s allegiance to Israel and the need to recognize Palestine as a nation from the diplomacy students, who wore commemorative T-shirts marking the exact anniversary of that day in 1948 that Palestinians were expelled from Israel and now still cannot return to Haifa.

“Germany has a special relationship with Israel. We don’t call Palestine a nation … but as a territory. We must be careful – as people may say you who killed the Jews. Germany is waiting for U.N. acceptance as Palestine as a state. It should be more of what your people want, not what your government wants,” he said. Schmiese noted that he had worked as a correspondent in the Middle East and had full knowledge of the difficulty of divided cities and nations as he responded.

. The Point Park students finished this informative and fun-filled visit with a group picture with Schmiese and their new Palestinian diplomacy student friends.

Complete madness then, a beautiful museum now

madness-pflug

Part of the Berlin Wall, on the Topography of Terrors grounds, that reads “Madness”
(photo by Katie Pflug)

by Katie Pflug

Berlin, Germany’s Topography of Terror historic site is set on what used to be the site of the Reich Security Main office, but it is now a complex where visitors can learn more about the history of the Holocaust and the Nazi reign in Germany.

Even though National Socialist terror was planned and organized by other parties, the Reich Security Main Office was the center of most of the Nazi regime’s mass crimes and acts of terror.  Between 1933 and 1945, the central institutions of Nazi persecution and terror – the Secret State Police Office with its own “house prison,” the leadership of the SS and, during the Second World War, the Reich Security Main Office – were located on the present-day grounds of the “Topography of Terror” that are next to the Martin Gropius Building and close to Potsdamer Platz, according to its website. It was just blocks away from the Suite Novotel, where the Point Park group stayed during its time in Berlin.

After the war the grounds were leveled and initially used for commercial purposes. Later, in 1987, as part of Berlin’s 750th anniversary celebration, the terrain was made accessible to the public under the name “Topography of Terror.” An exhibition hall and the exposed building remains on the former Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse (today’s Niederkirchnerstrasse) and Wilhelmstrasse were used to document the history of the site. The documentation center opened in 2010.

Exhibit at the Topography of Terrors (photo by Katie Pflug)

Exhibit at the Topography of Terrors
(photo by Katie Pflug)

Now the grounds of the Topography of Terror have a haunted feel, almost as if visitors are being transformed back into that time period. It has part of the Berlin Wall as a backdrop, which adds more history and eeriness. There is a piece of the wall with the word “Madness” lightly written.  This part of the wall stuck out to many visitors because many of them stopped and looked at the part of the wall particularly long.  “The word [madness] describes how Germany was during that time period through the use of one word,” Andrea Karsesnick stated.

The outside exhibit begins with the year 1933, which is when the Nazi Party rise began. It was set up with large pictures, text, and propaganda posters.  There are also other sections of the wall that are on their sides, with the metal exposed.  The wall, in the form, looks like an art form.

It all starts in 1933 with “The Path to Dictatorship,” describing how Adolph Hitler came to power.   This section of the exhibit is very time consuming but worth each second. It starts with describing the phase where Germany was between democracy and a dictatorship.

There is one picture in particular that stood out more than the others.  The picture of the marching SS officers holding the flag with the Nazi symbol on it made it known to everyone that the Nazi Party was taking over.  This photograph was taken in January 1933.

The Reichstag Fire and Nazi Terror in Berlin was another key section of the 1933 exhibit, explaining the burning of the Reichstag building.  The burning of the Reichstag building, executed by a young Dutchman, Marinus van der Lubbe, led to the Nazi Terror taking place in Berlin.

The Topography of Terror, a commemorative site in Berlin, details the Nazi Party's rise to power in 1933 through the end of the war and the Nuremberg trials. Here Professor David Fabilli views some of the public shaming Jews endured in the years leading up to the Holocaust.  (Photograph by Helen Fallon)

The Topography of Terror, a commemorative site in Berlin, details the Nazi Party’s rise to power in 1933 through the end of the war and the Nuremberg trials. Here Professor David Fabilli views some of the public shaming Jews endured in the years leading up to the Holocaust.
(Photograph by Helen Fallon)

There are many propaganda posters hanging around the exhibit.  Each of them offers an explanation of what each poster is trying to persuade everyone to think is right.  Each of the photographs and propaganda posters really brought the exhibit to life.

In the middle of the 1933 exhibit there are separate hanging posters to remember some of the victims of Nazi Terror in Berlin.  All of the victims’ photographs are accompanied by their personal stories that would make anyone sick to his or her stomach.

For example, Franz Wilczoch, a laborer, was taken to the district court prison on June 22, 1933.  The Nazis were using the district court prison as a detention and torture center.  When he was there, they severely maltreated him.  His face was beaten with burning torches, they poured hot tar onto his wounds, his hair was cut or torn out, and he was plastered with adhesive tape.  He died from his injuries on June 30, 1933.

The exhibit then goes into events happening later in 1933, such as the Anti-Jewish Terror, purges and employment bans, Day of National Labor and the destruction of the trade unions, book burning, and the consolidation of power.

After the 1933 exhibit there is much more to see inside the  documentation center, which continues the timeline until beyond 1945 – from the start of the war, the “shamings” and public humiliation of remaining Jews, SS officers retreats, persecution of prisoners and Hitler’s opponents, to the trials of the leaders.

The grounds are landscaped with trees and a large pathway, which makes it easy to stop for a second and remember the terrible events that happened on that very location.

The pathway leads around all of the grounds and finally makes its way back to the documentation center.  Information on the Gestapo and SS offices are just a few of the examples of history that is around the pathway.

The center also includes a library, open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.; guided one-hour tours are also available. No admission fee is charged, and the site operates from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. daily.  Staff members start closing the documentation center at 7:45 p.m. It is all wheelchair accessible.

According to its website, 900,000 people visited the “Topography of Terror” in 2012, making the documentation center one of the most frequently visited places of remembrance in Berlin.

The Axel Springer empire

Axel Springer exterior

Axel Springer took a chance by building the headquarters in Berlin.
(photo by Marina Weis)

by Marina Weis

Everyone thought journalist Axel Springer was crazy when he built his publishing house on the west side of Berlin during World War II.

A few days later, the Berlin wall was built right beside it.

But Springer had faith that Germany would be reunited and his headquarters would be in the center of a unified Germany. He believed his company had to pursue something called corporate social responsibility, with his fellow journalists fighting for a free social market. He called the headquarters that towered over the wall the lighthouse of freedom.

Although the Berlin Wall no longer stands near the headquarters today, the company still towers as the leading publishing house in the country, owning more than 230 newspapers and magazines with more than 80 online offerings, as well as involvement in television and radio stations and activity in 44 countries, according to its website. Its tabloid, Bild, has the highest circulation among Europe’s newspapers with more than 12 million people reading it daily.

Axel Springer, the journalist, may be gone, but current leaders of the company say his entrepreneurial spirit, creativity and integrity are carried through in every aspect of the company, even in the contracts of each journalist.

“Everything that he said came true and is still valuable today,” said Leeor Englander, assistant to the editor-in-chief of Die Welt, a large national newspaper owned by Axel Springer. “They were fighting against communism before and now it is terror today.”

Because Springer focused not only on content, but also on distribution and production, stemming from his family’s background in the newspaper business, he built the first print houses in Germany, and Axel Springer AG therefore began to print other newspapers, creating joint ventures, which began the expansion.

Leeor Englander greets the Point Park students and faculty.  (photo by Johnie Freiwald)

Leeor Englander greets the Point Park students and faculty.
(photo by Johnie Freiwald)

“At the time when Axel Springer invented Bild Zeitung, it was comparable with Facebook,” Englander said. “He did something nobody ever did before … The way he invented new magazines was the same way people today invent new apps and websites.”

In the same way that Springer fostered technological innovations, the company now strives to be the leading digital media company in Germany. Axel Springer AG currently generates more than a third of its revenue from its international business and with digital media.

Englander boasts of Die Welt as the first newspaper to have color, pictures, a compact version, a mobile application and to be the first real German national newspaper to go online.

“Journalism has nothing to do with paper,” Englander said. “It’s how do we reach our readers. We are not trying to keep print alive – We are trying to keep it as long as we can.”

Subscription only covers half the production cost of Die Welt. Advertising and classifieds cover the rest. Years ago, the reader paid almost all of it.

Despite ranking third among other leading print publications in Germany, Die Welt has taken leaps to further its digital presence, adopting a philosophy of mass-market journalism, which focuses on reaching all target groups with new products. It now sells more digital subscriptions per month than print.

“We knew that people were willing to pay for digital content,” Englander said. “Online is the most important distribution channel for the future.”

The focus was so much so online that Die Welt just last year decided to produce its content for online first, and then, at the end of the day, take the best content that was already online and publish it in print.

For comparison, Englander said Volkswagen builds the same car for both Germany and United States, but it looks only a little bit different because marketing is different in the United States. He said in the same breath, Die Welt produces the same content for its compact version, but it’s just less and shorter.

This repurposing of content in order to reach different readers can be seen Axel Springer’s publications. For example, the science section in the compact version of Die Welt was recently renamed Internet news to attract younger readers.

Axel Springer Academy students explain what they're learning to the Point Park students and faculty.  (photo by Helen Fallon)

Axel Springer Academy students explain what they’re learning to the Point Park students and faculty.
(photo by Helen Fallon)

In order to ease into the switch from old economy print style to a multimedia company, Axel Springer AG created a journalism academy to act as a change agent or think tank, bringing “fresh blood” and a “new mindset” to the company, according to Rudolf Porsche, director  of Axel Springer’s Akademie.

The Akademie started in 2007 and is the most progressive journalism school in Germany, according to Porsche. About 1,000 students apply to the fast and aggressive two-year vocational training at Axel Springer, but only about 40 of them are accepted. The job offers come after completion and some can be rejected. Most have completed an academic degree and prior journalism experience. They are also given a monthly salary of about 1,200 euros. These students are then contracted to work for three years at Die Welt or any other Axel Springer AG affiliates after the Akademie.

Porsche, also a journalist, said Akademie students are given “all they need,” such as Mac books, smart phones and cameras, as well as teachers to tell them how to use the equipment. The last thing they are given is the “freedom to act.”

“We give you the equipment, we teach you the techniques, and you teach us what to do with this,” Porsche said. “That is why we are awarded with prizes because it is not my work. It is the creativity of our students.”

In the past, the Akademie was awarded the Grimme Online Award, the CeBIT AppStar and the European Newspaper Award for projects when it competed with other news organizations in Germany.

“We do not compete with other schools. That’s boring. We competed with other brands,” Porsche said.

The students – this year ranging in age from 18 (which is unusual, Porsche said) to early 30s – are currently working on a relatively secret masterpiece project for the next few weeks that will eventually be published in the Welt Kompact and Welt Online.

“We started with simple things – with news, the basics, but now we are doing TV journalism and multimedia journalism,” said an Akademie student about her experiences at Axel Springer. “I think that’s really important. That will be the future. I think it’s great we learn it here even though it is hard work all the time, and you have to get yourself into all this technical stuff.”

Lecture: German Media During World War II

Dr. Elfriede Fürsich speaks to the group during a walking tour of Freie Universitat  (photo by Alexa Blanchard)

Dr. Elfriede Fürsich speaks to the group during a walking tour of Freie Universitat
(photo by Alexa Blanchard)

by Sara Tallerico

Dr. Elfriede Fürsich, a visiting professor at Freie Universitat in Berlin, specializes in issues of media globalization and journalism. Her lecture, “German Media During World War II” offered visiting Point Park students an insight on how German media structure originated.

Fürsich’s lecture featured various prominent figures in German media that allowed students to grasp how certain media operations developed

“A lot of media structure today is because of World War II,” Fürsich said, and no censorship edicts stand in direct opposition to what occurred back then.  The Nazis also contradicted what was a very liberal media policy during the Weimar era in the 1920s, which she said was “very liberal and advanced.”       She explained how the no censorship rules that now exist that came about because of the loathing to return to those days.

She offered a brief history of how media worked during World War II.  The main principle of German media was Gleichschaltung, meaning “making the same.”  This is a Nazi term for the process by which the Nazi regime successively established a system of totalitarian control over all aspects of society. Standard acts in Germany prior to World War II no longer applied.

Freie Universitat is home to an impressive library.

Freie Universitat is home to an impressive library.
(photo by Katie Pflug)

Germany’s main strategy for spreading ideas and information was propaganda. Fürsich spoke of two prominent figures who largely spread propaganda throughout Germany during World War II. She spoke about Joseph Goebbels first. Goebbels was a German politician and the minister of public enlightenment and propagranda. He was one of Adolf Hitler’s closest associates and most devout followers. His main role was to centralize Nazi control of all aspects of German cultural and intellectual life, particularly the press and radio. A great speaker, Goebbels believed in the power of the radio as his propaganda machine. Radio broadcasts were heavily utilized to spread the ideas of the Nazi regime, which caught fire because of the dire economic situation Germans found themselves in at that time, a result of the war and the worldwide Great Depression.

The next prominent figure Fürsich discussed was filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl.  Riefenstahl was a huge fan of Hitler. She often was part of the retinue for Hitler’s mass speeches and created documentaries regarding them. Her documentaries were showed at movie halls in Germany, and students were required to watch them. The documentaries always featured the latest technology, a patriotic style and they never sounded emotional.

Despite the subject matter, she has been emulated. “She developed an aesthetic used to this day in film and advertising,” Fürsich said.

Fürsich explained that with Riefenstahl’s documentaries came propaganda films. Most of these films were produced at the Universum Film AG, better known as the UFA. During the Third Reich, many propaganda films were produced such as “Derewige Jude” and “Münchhausen.” She said they were terrible depictions of Jews and Hitler’s opponents, and the only other  films shown then were comedies, stories and musicals.

Post war, two media systems were created: one model for West Germany and another for East Berlin in keeping with the Allies control over the conquered country.

West Germany’s model was known as the Social Responsibility Model. This model consisted of a mixed system. The government did not control the media but checked on it in a responsible way.

In East Germany, Soviet officials relied on the Marxist-Leninist Model. This model utilized the media and journalists to educate the masses. The government completely controlled the media. With little to no freedom regarding media, journalists began a method referred to as “reading between the lines.” East Berlin housed many newspapers, and  journalists were constantly being told what to write about from the government. However, journalists would often change words around to let the public know what was really going on, and West Germans continually interfered with the other side’s television broadcasts. Along with newspapers and TV news programs, East Berlin also had various television shows. One popular television show that Fürsich discussed was “The Black Channel.”  This television show included recorded extracts from recent West German television programs re-edited to include a Communist commentary, but many areas – including Dresden and Neubrandenburg – couldn’t get it. She called them “The Valley of the Clueless.”

When the Berlin Wall fell and Germany underwent a reunification process, many East German journalists – those who covered art, music, sports, culture and more – “stayed great journalists,” she said. “But the political journalists had to go.”

Today, Germany has a legal framework that guarantees its media and journalists freedom of expression, and laws state there will be no censorship. The goal is more reporting for the people as opposed to reporting for government, though, and privacy is very important with libel laws not very different than what exists in the United States, she said.

In her first address, she explained Germany’s dual broadcast system – public and commercial – and noted that most papers in Germany are regional, although there are major national newspapers, two of which – Die Welt and Suddeutsche Zeitung – the Point Park group visited. The media have suffered a loss in advertising, but automatic subscription renewals for newspapers and some government funding for broadcast places them in a more solid position, she said. Tabloids like Bild have also become very popular and have taken the lead in political coverage.

While the advertising declines mirror the states, Fürsich said the media are turning to digitalization, but Germans haven’t taken to the Internet and social media as Americans and others have done. Germans are still readers; there are bookstores in all towns. She cited the fact that 72.4 Germans said they used the Internet in 2012, but while they will use Facebook, they don’t like Twitter.

Recent Point Park graduate Richelle Szypulski stated, “Dr. Fürsich’s lecture provided a wonderful understanding on the different media systems after World War II.  She explained them in a simple, straightforward way that made it really easy for us to grasp.”  And the lecture prepared the students for the media visits in both Berlin and Munich.

Eating in Berlin – Guten Appetit!

Germans frequently add beer and pretzels to meals  (photo by Katie Pflug)

Germans frequently add beer and pretzels to meals
(photo by Katie Pflug)

by Sara Tallerico

Germany is renowned for its heavy, substantial regional food. Local cuisine is strongly influenced by past immigration, but the dishes are much more simplified. Berliners prefer their foods to be filling rather than over-fussy.  Cooking in Berlin is simple and down-to-earth, and the meals are hearty and satisfying.

Berliners begin their day with a typical breakfast of cold meats, cheeses, fresh fruit and an array of rolls and bread.  Some accompany their meal with orange juice, apple juice, coffee or hot tea, others with beer.  Time with friends and family is valued much more.  Breakfast is a time for relaxation, and they want to maximize every minute they have together.

Traditionally, Germans eat their main meal during the day between 12and 2 p.m. This meal is usually a warm, hearty dish.  At Maximilians, a restaurant with a cozy brewery atmosphere, the waiter suggested some of the Point Park students experience a typical Berlin lunch, meatballs.  He said they were a “very traditional and popular dish in Berlin.”  The meatballs were exactly what diners would expect when thinking of a German dish.  They were hearty, satisfying, warm and delicious. The dish consisted of two large meatballs served with mashed potatoes and carrots. Berlin meatballs are a perfect example of the three major staple foods in Germany: meat, potatoes and vegetables.

Germans enjoy their evening meal later on in the day, usually between 7 and 8 p.m. This meal is similar to a typical German lunch, hearty and warm. However, the portion size is usually smaller.

A protein-packed meal in Munich with a variety of sausage, potatoes, pretzels, and sauerkraut. (photo by Richelle Szypulski)

A protein-packed meal in Munich with a variety of meat, potatoes, pretzels, and sauerkraut.
(photo by Richelle Szypulski)

A favorite dinner in Berlin members of the Point Park group tried was Käsespätzle, otherwise known as cheese spaetzle.  Spaetzle is an egg noodle that is extremely popular in all parts of Germany. Germans prepare this traditional pasta in a plethora of ways. However, cheese spaetzle seems to be the most desired in this country. The dish is typically served with a generous portion of spaetzle with melted cheese and topped with fried onions. Recent Point Park University graduate Richelle Szypulski described the dish as “similar to gnocchi pasta, but delicious in a melt-in-your-mouth way.”

Point Park students and faculty had a variety of group dinners during their time in Germany, reflective of the different food in the cities and Salzburg. Main courses for the dinners were Turkey with creamed mushrooms and herb rice, fresh pork wiener schnitzel with potato-radish salad in Berlin; Munich white sausage, rostbratwurst, meat loaf, sauerkraut, potatoes and pretzel, and jagerschnitzel (grilled pork loin with mushrooms, vegetables and pasta in Munich; and pan-fried breaded chicken with potato-cucumber salad in Salzburg. And the group experienced the traditional German breakfast at hotels in Berlin and Munich during the trip, complete with scrambled eggs and sausage, of course, as well as bacon. And it was included in the room charges, which was wonderfuland helped students’ expenses.

photo

Favorite German desserts consist of fruit and Quark cheesecake.
(photo by Johnie Freiwald)

Now time for the best part: dessert in Berlin.  After a filling dinner, Germans usually make sure they save room for a delicate treat.  A very favored dessert is cheesecake, although some of the group dinners included apple strudel, chocolate mousse and raspberry yogurt cream cake.  German cheesecake is typically made with Quark cheese.  For variety, berries such as raspberries or blueberries can be added.  It truly is the perfect ending to a delicious meal.

Rehabilitating the Reichstag

The Reichstag building boasts historical architecture and a powerful message: Dem Deustchen Volke

The Reichstag building boasts historical architecture and a powerful message: Dem Deustchen Volke

by Alexa Blanchard

The International Media class from Point Park University continued its tour of Berlin, Germany, with an evening visit to a government building known as the Reichstag.

The Reichstag building, which has undergone decades of change and reform, initially began as the headquarters of the German empire’s parliament (also called diet or Reichstag) in 1894. According to berlin.de, The Parliament was controlled by several different entities, beginning first with the German empire, followed by the Weimar Republic, and finally in the 1930s fell under Nazi control.

The Nazi Reichstag abandoned the building in 1933 after a devastating fire that destroyed most the building and was never repaired until the fall of the Berlin Wall. Since architect Norman Foster led the reconstruction effort that was completed in 1999, the Reichstag building is used once again as a government entity by the Bundestag, the modern-day term for German parliament.

From the front, the Reichstag building is huge and intimidating with its historical architecture. The pillars and statues keeping watch over the city are reminiscent of the Parthenon of Greece. The building exudes an image of grace and authority over its subjects, powerful to behold. Above the pillars on the architrave is carved a short yet meaningful phrase: Dem Deutschen Volke, or, to the German people.

The dome at the Reichstag

The dome at the Reichstag

Attached to the back of the Reichstag building is a massive dome that attracts hundreds of tourists every day. Audio guides are available for use while visitors stroll along the terrace outside of the dome and take in the breathtaking Berlin skyline.

Once inside the dome, the audio guide will begin explaining the history of the building as visitors walk along a ramp that spirals along the edge of the wall to the top of the dome, culminating in a sky view that rests the weary traveler.

The audio guide not only explains the history of the Reichstag building and the dome but also stops the visitor on the ramp to point out several key points of Berlin, such as the television tower. Many of these buildings are historical elements that are related to the Reichstag building, but most are new buildings that had to be built or rebuilt following the devastation of World War II.

The bottom floor of the dome boasts a central element that holds the entire building together. A collection of black and white photographs with detailed captions in several languages are showcased around the middle point of the dome.

These photos outline the integral points of the Reichstag’s history, including the days when it was burned and unusable. Some of the most powerful images were taken during the final days of the Berlin Wall as students sat on top of the Wall in front of the Reichstag while the police force watched them from the ground.

The interior of the dome is perfect for audio walking tours.

The interior of the dome is perfect for audio walking tours.

Some of the images are also a bit startling and strange to think about from the perspective now. A photo from 1930 reads: “The NSDPA parliamentary group leaves the auditorium; only Joseph Goebbels remains as an observer.”

So, by this time the Nazi party had taken control. How eerie to still have NSDPA artifacts still on display in a government building. As with many painful things in Germany, the reason for the rebuilt Reichstag and the dome is most likely to serve as reminders to never forget, to never let things get as bad as they once were.

The roof terrace and dome of the Reichstag Building are open from 8 a.m. to midnight daily (last admission: at 10 p.m.)  Admission is free, but advance registration is

required. The online registration form can be found at http://visite.bundestag.de. It is closed from Dec. 24-31 and other dates for cleaning. It also closes at times for security reasons when the government is in session.

Stay in the east or flee to the west?

Checkpoint Charlie Museum

Checkpoint Charlie Museum

by Katie Pflug

Checkpoint Charlie was once a main crossing point between East and West Berlin and the Berlin Wall, but today it is a main historical attraction in Berlin, Germany.

The Checkpoint Charlie Museum may look like an old-fashioned home, but it is filled to the brim with historical remembrance of East and West Berlin.

Located near Potsdamer Platz, the Checkpoint Charlie Museum was erected in 1962 by freedom-fighter founder and director Dr. Rainer Hildebrandt. The museum started as a two and a half room apartment display that held history about the Berlin Wall. On June 14, 1962, the museum reopened in Friedrichstrasse in what used to be a block of flats, at the Checkpoint Charlie border crossing. Today it displays objects that helped escapees flee the East, exhibits to learn more about the history of the Berlin Wall and stories of escapees, according to its website.

Today the museum is run by Hildebrandt’s widow, Alexandra Hildebrandt, who, since the death of her husband in 2004, has expanded the museum to include more exhibitions about human rights and freedom.

The  permanent exhibition dates back to the museum’s first days, just after the building of the Berlin Wall, and charts the lifespan of the world’s supposedly most secure border system, according to its website. Here visitors can see original boards created by Hildebrandt in the 1960s, who worked with journalists, escape organizers and protesters to put together a compact and clear outline of the background to the wall’s creation, as well as other key events in East Germany’s history, such as the June 17, 1953, uprisings.

Katie Pflug and Michelle Graessle stop for a photo of the American sector exit sign.

Katie Pflug and Michelle Graessle stop for a photo of the American sector exit sign.
(photo by Connor Mulvaney)

After viewing the first room, visitors walk up a staircase that has children’s paintings all the way up to the top of the stairs. Each of the paintings explains the separation between East and West Germany and how children wish they could all be friends.  The paintings and drawings add a child’s perceptive to the museum, which gives visitors another great way to think about how the Berlin Wall affected so many people’s lives.

Throughout the whole museum there are many displays that shows objects that helped East Berliners escape to the west. From suitcases and heaters to escape cars, hot air balloons, homemade mini-submarines and deceptively hollow surfboards are just a few of the items that people used to escape. Reading the stories left many visitors looking shocked.

The museum displays a homemade airplane that was used as an escape method. The only part of the plane that was not homemade was the engine, which was taken out of a car.

The museum also has on exhibit other work describing human rights violations around the world and a permanent NATO exhibition.

Point Park students found the Checkpoint Charlie Museum a great way to learn more about what was happening while the wall was up in Berlin. The museum is heavy on reading, student visitors said, but each and every display is worth taking the time to read and understand.

The museum is open every day of the year from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m., including festivals such as Christmas and Easter and other bank holidays. Admission charges are 12.50 euros for adults, 8.50 euros for groups of 20 or more, and 9.50 for students and 6.50 for ages 7-18. Children up to 6 are free. Guided tours are available.

Alexa’s Blog – Day 5

The following events transpired on 5/16/13.

Today’s media visit at Axel Springer was my favorite visit yet. We talked to Rudolf Porsche of Axel Springer and the Akademie students, which was very enlightening. Their work on their ‘masterpiece’ about the low voting turn out is such a great opportunity for them and hugely relevant since Germany has elections coming up. I was impressed by all of the students and that they are taking their education seriously. All of them are so multi-talented and charismatic that it’s hard to remember that some of them are even younger than we are. I loved getting the chance to talk to them. Katie, who is 18, was particularly amazing to all of us because she has already published four books! We had a great time talking to her about the differences between America and Germany after lunch. She found it funny that smoking cigarettes has a negative stigma in America, where in Germany it’s a bit of a romantic thing to be a smoking a cigarette and working on your hard-hitting news story. I loved hearing about the background of the other Akademie students as well – there was even a girl who had spent time in America, and her American accent was flawless. At the end of our visit, a few of the students took a small group of us to the 19th floor where there is a lavish bar and restaurant that overlooks the city of Berlin. It was probably the best view I had seen of the city so far.

While we were at Axel Springer we also talked with the assistant to the editor-in-chief of Die Welt, Leeor Englander. I was responsible for having a surplus of questions ready for him to keep the conversation going, but as it turns out I hardly needed them – he was so interesting and passionate about Die Welt that the words just kept coming. He talked a lot about the extensive innovations that Die Welt was doing to stay ahead of the journalism world and stand out. He showed us their news room, which was small and orderly but stocked with the latest in technology – Mac computers, full Adobe suites, several different models of iPads, smart phones – they seemed like they had everything they could ever need. Leeor also touched on a project he was a part of called Jew in the Box which was about stereotypes of the Jewish people. It was fascinating to hear about his culture and the prejudices he faces every day, and an interesting deviation from the news world that we had been talking about all day.

We had dinner in a small restaurant in Mitte, the center of Berlin. We enjoyed beer and schnitzel and paid Zack to eat an anchovy. The night ended with frantic packing and a short trip to get spaghetti ice cream. I got some for poor Carson, who is still stuck up in the hotel during down time, but it all but melted on by the time I booked it back to the hotel. I wish we could push her around in a wheelchair or a shopping cart.

Overall, this was my absolute favorite day. Everyone at Axel Springer was so engaging and relatable. I am sad to leave Berlin and our wonderful tour guide, Lorena, but I’m so happy that we ended on such a great note. Here’s to adventures in Munich!

-AB