Going to the Heart of German politics

Authored by:
Pieter du Plessis

Today we learned about a different kind of business - politics! We went to the heart of German politics - The Bundestag, here in Berlin. We were able to not only get a sight of the building from the outside, but we also got to see it inside with a guided tour. This was a fascinating experience to once again learn about the history of Germany and German politics as well as its contemporary situation. Learning about a political system other than the US's, we are able to grow our worldviews and understandings of how governments work elsewhere. 

Pictured from left: Kim, Madison, Elena and Anamaria at the S-Bahn station on our way to The Bundestag.

The Bundestag is the German federal parliament. It can be compared to the chamber of deputies along the lines of the United States House of Representatives. Representatives from all over Germany (the 16 states) come here where very important decisions get made on issues in Germany and everywhere where Germany is involved. The representatives need to have long sittings here and listen to one another's arguments where they then take a vote on the issue and make a decision. The Bundestag currently consists of 709 seats that are a make-up of different political parties. There are 7 different political parties represented through the seats - this is very different from the US which currently has a two-party representation.

Our group in front of The Bundestag

During our tour inside of the building, our tour guide showed us many different things and we really learned about the extent of political buildings in the area - below you can see our tour guide pointing this out:

​The Bundestag is also filled with several art pieces to commemorate the past. There were two very interesting pieces that stood out to us. One was Russian writing on the wall that came to be there on the day when the Soviets won the battle in Berlin. The other was an art piece that consists of rusted archive boxes with past parliamentary members which even includes Hitler. This was rather controversial the tour guide told us, and the box had to be filled with concrete since it has been damaged several times. 

One of the walls inside the Bundestag where some of the writings on the wall can be seen and in some places bullet holes from the battle. 
Our tour guide telling us about the walls and how it is considered art
Kevin pointing out some of the archive boxes 

By the end of the tour, we had the chance to sit in one of the rooms where respective political parties meet before reaching decisions to communicate with the rest of parliament. This was an exciting moment for many of us since we got to speak over the same microphones that important decision-makers in Germany usually do. It can be said that some of us made our debut in politics. After this, we made our way to the rooftop where we got to see the beautiful skyline of Berlin and the fascinating glass dome that is the highest point of the building. 

The group in front of the glass dome on top of the building

While standing on the rooftop, we did not only have the time to reflect on the political system here in Germany, take in the beautiful view but we also had time to reflect on our time here in Berlin. 

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