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Western Berlin

Western Berlin
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Our desire to visit the Deutsches Technikmuseum made it necessary to establish an acquaintance with the Berlin U-Bahn. The U-Bahn, short for Untergrundbahn ("underground railway"), is the Berlin subway system. It’s pretty extensive, consisting of nine different lines, numbered U1 to U9. There was a station on the U2 line in the nearby Ernst-Reuter-Platz, at which we boarded a train after buying some tickets from an automated ticket vending machine.

Bob and Nella and the U-Bahn Station
Bob and Nella and the U-Bahn Station
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Bob Stymied by Technology
Bob Stymied by Technology
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On disembarking from the train at the Gleisdreieck station, we had a general idea of how to get to the museum, but had to search around a little. We eventually came across a building with an airplane protruding from its front, and we knew we were in the right place.

Bob and Nella and Front of Museum
Bob and Nella and Front of Museum
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Douglas C-47 Skytrain Raisin Bomber
Douglas C-47 Skytrain Raisin Bomber
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The airplane in question is a Douglas C-47 Skytrain, an American plane that saw service during the Berlin Airlift of 1948-49. The Airlift was a massive air supply operation that was launched when the Soviets attempted to take over the western part of Berlin by blockading ground supply access to it. Apparently the Soviets wanted to starve the Berliners into begging for help from them. This didn’t work because of the American and British operated Airlift. One of the American pilots came up with the idea of dropping sweets to children who lined the perimeters of the Berlin airfields, delivering them in packages with little parachutes. As a result the Berliners started to call the planes Rosinenbomber, or Raisin Bombers. Below the plane we found a sign that showed the museum's layout and pointed us to the entrance, and we headed in that direction.

Museum Sign

Museum Sign
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The Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin (German Museum of Technology) was founded in 1982 and is partly housed in buildings once attached to a train station that closed in 1952. It celebrates many forms of technology of the past and present. We entered the museum and found ourselves confronted by another piece of German aviation history.

Mathias Rust was an 18-year-old Hamburg-area amateur pilot in the year 1987. It was at this time that he conceived an idea of visiting Soviet Russia by air, building an "imaginary bridge" to the East. He outfitted a rented Cessna 172 with auxiliary fuel tanks and eventually took off from Helsinki, Finland, on May 27, 1987, bound for Moscow. He disabled his radio equipment, so nobody could tell him what to do, and entered Soviet air space. His plane was quickly detected by air defense radar, and he was tracked by SAM missiles and interceptor jets, but apparently due to confusion and/or bureaucracy, permission was never given to attack or otherwise engage the plane. Rust eventually appeared above Moscow, landed on a bridge that was closed to traffic for maintenance, and taxied past St. Basil’s Cathedral to within 100 yards of Red Square. It didn’t take long for the Soviet authorities to arrest him.

Rust was eventually tried and convicted of a number of charges, and did some time in a detention center in Moscow, but was released in 1988 without completing his sentence as a gesture of goodwill. On returning home he was fined about $100,000 for violating an assortment of aviation laws, but was able to sell the rights to his story to the German magazine Stern. Back in Moscow, many Soviet defense officers were relieved of their jobs for incompetence in defending the country. As it turns out, some of those removed were hard-line Soviets, and their removal made it easier for then-premier Mikhail Gorbachev to pursue reforms that eventually led to the end of the Cold War. Rust’s airplane was placed on exhibit in Japan for a number of years, but in 2008 it was returned to Germany, where it’s now suspended in the lobby of the Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin.


Cessna 172 Flown by Mathias Rust
Cessna 172 Flown by Mathias Rust
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Mathias Rust's Cessna
Mathias Rust's Cessna
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Germans have long been interested in technology, and have been enthusiastic participants in its history. This is reflected in the museum’s collection, which is large and varied. Upstairs from the Cessna, we first came across a fairly large exhibit on computer technology.

Evolution of Data Storage
Evolution of Data Storage
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Late 60's Computer Console
Late 60's Computer Console
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Pre-dating modern computers, and more mechanical than electronic was an Enigma coding/decoding machine used by the Germans (and hacked by British codebreakers) during World War II.

Enigma Machine

Enigma Machine
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Many examples of early communications and broadcasting equipment were also on display.

Early Telephones

Early Telephones
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Radios
Radios
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Televisions
Televisions
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There were also many devices used to capture and enjoy audio recordings, as well as still and moving pictures.

Gramophones and Cylindrical Recordings

Gramophones and Cylindrical Recordings
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Daguerreotype Machine
Daguerreotype Machine (Early Camera)
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Personal Cameras
Personal Cameras
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Underwater Cameras
Underwater Cameras
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Exploded Cameras
Exploded Cameras
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Early Animation
Early Animation
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Movie Cameras and Projectors
Movie Cameras and Projectors
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Exhibits on textile production highlighted its connection with early computer technology, with mechanical looms and embroidery machines that ran according to instructions fed in on punched cards or paper tape, long before the same media were applied to computing.

Mechanical Loom
Mechanical Loom
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Embroidery Machine
Embroidery Machine
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Cord Braiding Machine

Cord Braiding Machine
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An extensive display on pharmaceutical research and production reflected heavy and influential German participation in the field.

Classic Microscope
Classic Microscope
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Chemical Apparatus
Chemical Apparatus
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Early Aspirin Containers

Early Aspirin Containers
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Outdoor exhibits were also on display in a pleasant parklike area.

Water Tower and Smokestack
Water Tower and Smokestack
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Windmill
Windmill
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Back indoors, a gigantic (and functional) steam engine was on display. Demonstrations were given periodically, but not while we were looking at it.

Balancier Steam Engine

Balancier Steam Engine
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There were also exhibits on various modes of transportation, from the personal to the large-scale.

High-Wheel Bicycle
High-Wheel Bicycle (1886)
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A Vespa
A Vespa
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Das Abschlammen im Lokschuppen ist verboten!

Das Abschlammen im Lokschuppen ist verboten!
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Bob Adjusting Steam Locomotive
Bob Adjusting Steam Locomotive
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Steel Wheels
Steel Wheels
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A large new building holds exhibits on nautical transportation and aviation (including wartime aviation).

Visitors Aboard the Kurt-Heinz
Visitors Aboard the Kurt-Heinz
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Sailing Ship Model
Sailing Ship Model
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Boat and Airplanes

Boat and Airplanes
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Lufthansa Ju-52 Passenger Plane
Lufthansa Ju-52 Passenger Plane
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Messerschmitt Bf 110
Messerschmitt Bf 110
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Flying Bombs
"Flying Bombs"
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Douglas C-47 Raisin Bomber
Douglas C-47 Raisin Bomber
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Just making our way through all these exhibits was fatiguing, but we rested and recharged at a small restaurant in the museum. This prepared us for our next destination, the Berlin Gemäldegalerie.


Resting and Recharging

Resting and Recharging
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