Nerds: head to the Computer Games Museum, a fascinating tour through 60 years of interactive machinery (yes you can play with them)
Before the fall of the Berlin wall, Friedrichshain was part of East Berlin. Its name is a tribute to Frederick the Great, a Prussian king from the 18th century. During the Second World War it was renamed Horst-Wessel-Staft after Horst Wessel, the Nazi activist and writer of the Nazi hymn. When Wessel was shot by communists in 1930 he died slowly and painfully in Friedrichshain hospital — an event with Joseph Goebbels turned into propaganda, hence the name change of the district.
Yin and Yang
Towards the end of the war, the district was severely damaged by allied bombing and intense house-to-house fighting during the Battle of Berlin. Right up to the nineties you could still see walls riddled with bullet holes. After the war, the boundary between the US and Soviet occupation sectors cut between Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain. Ever since the wall fell, they have been two of Berlin’s trendiest districts.
These days Friedrichshain is a curious mix of gentrification and loyalty to its squatter roots. The whole place is an art exhibition, with most every surface covered in bursts of graffiti, but expensive boutiques have also popped up here and there. Boisterous pubs with cheap brews sit next to cocktail bars; bleary-eyed students spill out of backroom cinemas onto luminous riverside green spaces. There’s a bit of everything, but none of it jars: the atmosphere is young, liberal and lively. You can’t help but enjoy it.
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