A Day at the Wannsee

It’s not a short trip to Wannsee, especially with the city’s commuter rail system still lagging.  From Schmargendorf, one must head north to Theodor-Heuss-Platz to catch the 218 bus toward Pfaueninsel, Peacock Island.  It takes more or less an hour, along curved, wooded roads, before the lake comes into view.  It’s serene, and beautiful–two descriptors which make Wannsee’s historical identity all the more troubling.

For those learned in the ways of nature, there would be no real surprises at Pfaueninsel, just a nice stop to enjoy a lack of city for a while.  The forest is lush with fern, the trees are not too dense, and the water is relatively enchanting.  Aside the oil from the ferries, the water holds wildlife and an abundance of cattails for the public to enjoy.

It’s hard to visit Wannsee without immediately thinking of 1942, though.  The Wannsee Konferenz brought Nazi leadership together to discuss the “final solution” for the Jewish people…this is where genocide was planned. The Nazi regime had already instituted many anti-Jewish policies from its taking of power in 1933, but Wannsee took everything to a much more disturbing level.

It’s fitting that the house in which the Konferenz took place is now a Holocaust memorial.

Our visit to Wannsee was by no means extraordinary just for taking place.  But it did give me pause to come across a great attraction juxtaposed against a sad history.

And that’s not to say the Wannsee Konferenz is all Wannsee should be known for.   The area is a huge tourist and recreation engine, along with multiple palaces and buildings from the Prussian Empire, as well as being a UNESCO heritage site.

There’s no reason the corruption of Man should remain forever a corruption.  Wannsee does have an unsettling bit of history to its name, but hopefully the recognition of the rights and terrible wrongs makes Man’s future all the more enlightened.

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