Sunday, October 21 - Potsdam

We left early for Potsdam and Schloss Sanssouci, a wise precaution since we missed the worst Sunday crowds that way. "Sanssouci is the former summer palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia at Potsdam, just outside Berlin. It is often counted among the German rivals of Versailles although Sanssouci is in the more intimate Rococo style and is far smaller than its French Baroque counterpart. The palace was built between 1745 and 1747 to fulfill Frederick's need for a private residence where he could relax away from the pomp and ceremony of the Berlin court. It was a place for relaxation rather than a seat of power. The palace is little more than a large single-storey villa containing just ten principal rooms, it was built on the brow of a terraced hill at the canter of the park. "

We first saw a windmill that survived form the previous farmland due to a stubborn farmer. Then we went up on the state entrance side of the palace where there is a wide plaza with a semicircular colonnade. Then we had a tour of the interior, but photographs were not permitted. As usual the rooms were intended to increase in decoration as they approached the center room where Frederick would be located. One did not fit the rococo pattern, being the one he died in, which was then ruined by his 22 dogs. That was redecorated in another style by his heir.

After the tour we went on the other side of the palace to see the graves of his dogs and this gave us a good view of the other entrance and facade. After that we went on a long bus ride around the whole palace complex seeing a few of the buildings but from a distance. Apparently it was a policy of German royalty never to be satisfied with previous royal housing and to construct their own palace. Even minor royalty did this, as we saw when we continued aroused the city of Potsdam and its environs.

We stopped next at Schloss Cecilienhof, the last palace built by the Hohenzollern dynasty. It was erected 1914-1917 for Crown Prince Wilhelm and his wife.The architect emulated the English Tudor style, quite a change form what we had been seeing. From 17th of July to 2nd of August 1945 the Potsdam Conference negotiations between the victorious Allies of World War II were held here. We had a tour of the interior and it was quite interesting

Then we went on to the Wannsee district which is basically a resort community. However there we paused to look at the house that had been owned by the notorious Nazi Reinhard Heydrich and was the site of the infamous Wannsee conference. The Wannsee Conference was a meeting of senior officials of the Nazi German regime on January 20, 1942. The purpose of the conference was to inform senior Nazis and senior Governmental administrators of plans for the "Final solution to the Jewish question." (See the movie Conspiracy.)

Back at the hotel we had an independent lunch at the hotel and then went out on our free afternoon to see a tourist attraction on the Kurfurstendamm called "The Story of Berlin." It was quite large and informative, but not really very well done. We spent a good bit of time there but finally gave up and fled for a short rest. After dinner in a nearby restaurant we were taken to the new Philharmonie Hall for a concert by the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin. An interesting building and a pleasant concert of music by Schumann, Schubert and (alas) Hindemith.

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