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  • ReichstagReichstag Building Berlin, Germany
    The Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany was built to hold the Reichstag, or parliament of the German Empire. Reich means imperial, and tag means diet, but not the kind of diet those of us in American consider it to mean. It is a derivative of dietas from the Latin which means assembly, and was used in that term. The building opened in 1894, and held the Reichstag until 1933, when it became very damaged by fire that most thought had been set by the Dutch communist Marinus van der Lubbe. When the Nazis came into power, they didn't bother making repairs or renovation to the building since it suited their purposes that it was destroyed, and they would assemble in the Kroll Opera House. When the war ended, the building fell into worse disrepair, while the German Democratic Republic held their meetings in the Palace of the Republic in East Berlin, and the Federal Republic of Germany met in the Bundeshaus in Bonn. It was repaired enough to keep it safe from the elements in the 1960s, and partly renovated, but no real reconstruction began until the reunification of Germany in 1990. When it was completed finished, in 1999, it became the main meeting place of the German parliament, the Bundestag. The Reichstag as a parliament began in the days of the Holy Roman Empire, and didn't stop being a real parliament until the Nazis came to power and their they reign, 1933-1945.  The Reichstag fire turned out to be the most important event in the history of the world, since Jesus Christ. The mystery and intrigue that surrounded the arrest, conviction and beheading of Marinus van der Lubbe, a young, half blind immigrant, who had come to the city looking for work, as the sole culprit, or as the Nazis and Hitler put it, part of the Communist attempt to take over the country was and is the biggest line of whatever you choose to call it. There have been many retrials since the first one, each one finding different outcomes, yet it is and was the Nazi party that had control of the situation, the police and the courts, and unless you are half blind and out of work yourself, an outrageous lie that was perpetrated for the rise of the Nazi party and its ultimate takeover of Germany and the millions of people that died because of their ignorance.

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  • Brandenburger TorBrandenburger Tor Berlin, Germany
    Brandenburger Tor, or the Brandenburger Gate is one of the city gates that lead into the city of Berlin in Germany; and has always been a symbol of the city and country. In fact, it is one of the most famous landmarks in Europe today. The gate is found on the west side of the city's hub, and the intersection of Unter den Linden and Ebertstasse, just west of the Pariser Platz, and the sole survivor of many such gates that led one into the city of Berlin. A block north is the Reichstag building and has been the monumental entrance into Unter den Linden which is known for the linden trees that line the famous boulevard and head towards the city palace that was once the home of the Prussian monarchs. King Frederick William II of Prussia had the gates built for a sign of peace to all that came here and was designed by Carl Gotthard Langhans from 1788 to 1791. The gate was repaired and renovated in 2000 to 2002 by the Berlin Monument Conservation Foundation. The gate's history is synonymous with the city's glorious and influential past. In 1688, when Frederick William reigned, and just after the Thirty Years' War, Berlin was only a small walled city that sat within a star shaped fort with numerous named gates. It was a peaceful period, with religious tolerance, and a century before these gates would be built; in the capital of the Prussian kingdom. These factors facilitated the growth of the city by the Rhine River, and when Frederick William II took power, he had the gates built. The Brandenburg Gate contains 12 Doric columns, with six on each side of the main entry, within the five that were formed by the columns. Residents could only use the two outlying ones, and on top of the gate sat Quadriga, a chariot is pulled by four horses driven by Victoria, Roman goddess of victory. The design is copied after the Proplaea, the gateway to the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, and has stayed the same since its completion although there have been many changes over the years. In 1806, after the defeat of the Prussian army at the Battle of Jena-auerstedt, Napoleon took the Quadriga back to Paris, and after he was beaten in 1814, the Prussian General Ernst von Pfuel headed the occupation and took back the Quadriga, restored it in its proper place, and place a wreath of oak leaves and the new symbol of Prussian power, the iron cross. During that period, the only people that could enter through the middle archway were members of the royal family, except the Pfuels who were allowed to use it from 1814 to 1919. After the Nazis came to power, it was still used as a great symbol for the country, and it amazingly survived WWII with minor bullet and shrapnel holes. After the war, pedestrians and vehicles could pass through the gate until that fateful day on August 13, 1961, when the Berlin Wall was erected as another arch just west of the gate, and cut off access to both sides of the city. After the Revolution of 1989, the wall was knocked down, and the gate became a symbol of the city's freedom once more. Thousands of people came to the wall to celebrate its demise on November 9, 1989, and on December 22, 1989, the gate was opened by Helmut Kohl, West German chancellor who walked through to meet the East German chancellor, Hans Modrow.

January 11, 2011