Dror Atariah,
BMS Phase I student,
BSc Tel Aviv University

Berlin was the first big city I have ever been to. Until I saw it, the biggest place I knew was Tel Aviv, which is more or less the size of one of the suburbs of Berlin. Thus, the first thing I felt was "WOW! It's is so big!" In order to get around in such a big place one should acquire means of transportation. My wife explained the simplest thing, the name on trains, buses and trams, reveals the final destination of the specific vehicle. Equipped with this knowledge I was ready to hit the road.

The next stage is to apply for a visa. The office in charge conceals itself behind the name Ausländerbehörde, and is located in an industrial part of Wedding. It was hard to believe the rumor that no one speaks English in this office.My wife had a big concert the same day, and I wasn't ready to face the German bureaucracy on my own. The surreal solution had the shape of a hand written letter in my bag. A friend told me that it is pointless to go there without knowing German, so my wife wrote a letter explaining what I need. With this letter and all the required forms and papers on my back, I headed to the foreign office (using my first lesson knowledge and subway line U9). As predicted, I didn't open my mouth - the hand written letter made all the work.

A short while after life got on track, my wife and I planned a little hike at Wannsee, we were heading the lakeside. We took the regional train (RE) from Zoologischer Garten, then bus number 114. We got off the bus where we thought we were at the closest spot to the lake itself. Unexpectedly, we found ourselves standing in front of the "House of the Wannsee Conference". We weren't sure whether we should enter that place or not, eventually we did. It was a very strong and emotional moment. Our heartbeats escalated. We were standing where the "Final Solution" was formalized. The surroundings were so beautiful, so peaceful. One can easily picture the same place 60 years ago - the same lake, same sails, same swimmers and the same building. I couldn't picture the conference room full of Nazi officers discussing the termination of my people. I couldn't understand how a human being can sit in such a wonderful place and prepare such an evil plan. We wrote few lines in the guest book and left for the lakeshore.

Now my home is in Berlin. There is a whole lot more to learn and know, but for me, the bottom line it is of great meaning - building my family in Berlin, Germany.

published in October 2007

Update 2014: Dror works as a Data Scientist in Berlin.