Photo Above: Remnants of the Berlin Wall
There is no place in Berlin where one can escape the memory of the Nazi era, Hitler's reign of terror, the Holocaust, the cruelty of the Gestapo, matched by the equally inhumane oppression of the Soviet power and the infamous Wall that separated East and West. Parts of the Wall still stand gold plates throughout the city streets serve as reminders of loss. About an hour away by train is Sachsenhausen, a concentration camp where more than 50,000 people lost their lives, including both Jews and POW's captured by the Russians after they overtook the camp and turned it into one of their slave labor/torture camps.
Conversely, there are landmarks such as Checkpoint Charlie that serve as reminders of the fight for freedom, while Hitler's Bunker (his hideout, dwelling and place of suicide) finds no honor, no memorial.....only a sign to mark its location. Ironically, across the street is the masterfully designed memorial built to honor the lives had been lost at his hand.
Experiencing each of these sites allowed our team to connect to the history of Berlin, and thereby to have deepened within each of us a compassionate love for the people who call her home. Because we took time to visit these locations, although some were deeply moving and some difficult, our team followed in their outreach activities with a genuine care for the people to whom we had gone. Berliners have either significantly individualized opinions of the "higher power" or no belief in God whatsoever. The opportunity to partner with an established local organization challenged our Ignite team to step outside of its comfort zone and to find ways to quickly build rapport in order to share effectively. Whether at the parks, in competition or even with the Gothic community, once again the universal language of sport - just the simple fact that we are athletic, doors open for relationship. And opportunities are only a conversation away.