Day 15 – Berlin to Prague
Berlin has been amazing. We’ve done so much, yet there’s still so much to do! The town has commemorated everything that happened here in a really nice way and aims to tell its story to as many people as possible. On our way out we decided to visit the Gleis 17 memorial in Grunewald. This is the station where 50,000 Jews were sent from Berlin to various different concentration camps from October 1941 to March 1945. It’s a simplistic memorial which simply lists all of the trains that left the station around the platform edge. It details the date, how many Jews were on the train and where it went. I felt it was very symbolic thing to do as we left Berlin.
Day 16 – Prague
In the morning we headed into Prague on our own little ferry boat across the river.
Our first stop was the National Memorial to the Heroes of the Heydritch Terror. It told the story of the Assasination of Heyritch, one of the high commanders under Hitler. A group of Czech soldiers fled to the UK where they were trained in Glasgow. They then flew back to Prague to carry out their mission. Heydritch at this point had created so much terror across Prague, earning himself the title ‘Butcher of Prague’, and felt he was so untouchable that he was driving around in a car with the roof down. On the 28th of May 1943, the two paratroopers who were carrying out the assasination were waiting for Heydritch and when he reached the correct spot, the gun stalled. Instead of accelerating, the driver broke, allowing the second paratrooper to throw a bomb. This missed it’s target but created enough damage that Heydritch died in hospital on the 2nd of June 1943. The Nazi’s then created a nation wide hunt for the murderers. They had no leads, but in an attempt to take back control they rounded up large groups of people and destroyed two whole villages just outside of Prague. One of the group of the paratroopers then panicked and became an informant of the Nazi’s. He told them the names of all of the other paratroopers, including singling out the two that had carried out the assasination. He also told them all of the names of the families that had helped and allowed the group to stay in their houses in between them arriving back in Prague and the assasination. The Nazi’s then rounded up all of the families, children included, tortured them to find the paratroopers current location and then murdered all of them. The paratroopers at this point were hiding in the Crypt of the Orthodox Church. The Nazi’s surrounded the entire area, opened fire and poured in tear gas. The paratroopers put up a good fight but all of them were killed or committed suicide in an attempt to not be caught. The informant was on hand to identify all of the bodies. In total the Nazi’s murdered about 5,000 people to put others off of assasinating other members of their party. The museum is underneath the Orthodox Church and you can go into the Crypt where the paratroopers were staying. It’s a very informative little museum about an amazing attempt to act out against the Nazi’s.
We then wandered up to the main square. The whole of the centre of Prague is very pretty and all of the buildings are very old. Despite it being 34 degrees when we had left the van, the weather, as you can see from the pictures, had suddenly decided to become a little gloomy. Part of our to do list was to head up the clock tower to admire the view. What I wasn’t quite planning on was how unsafe I would feel to begin with up there. Heights I’m fine with, but the top level on this was at a slant leaning you forward to the ground below. After getting over the slight tilt, I looked at the view and it was definitely worth going up for. It was also much safer climbing the tower than some of the others that we’ve been up.
On our way home to beat the incoming storm it would have been rude not to stop and pick up a trdelnik, which is basically a sweet pastry covered in nuts and sugar! We managed to find a little shop that even puts stuff inside it. Jack had ice cream and I strawberries and cream. Yum!