Moabit

Moabit is an interesting district, with a mixture of immigrants, students and families living side by side.  Along the river Spree there are many interesting cafes and restaurants, along with the new government quarter, where the apartments are a bit grander.  At the other end of the district is Turmstraße, Moabit’s main street.  A largely Turkish and Arabic area, it’s brimming with kebab shops and fresh food markets. 
 
Moabit is quite well connected, with good U-Bahn connections to Schöneberg and Charlottenburg as well as the Ring-Bahn which circles the city and a number of express bus services into Berlin Mitte.  It is a bit cheaper than districts like Prenzlauer Berg, Mitte, and Charlottenburg, so if you are looking to save a few Euros and also delve into the local experience, then Moabit is a bit of a hidden gem.
 
 
Previously part of the borough of Tiergarten, Moabit is now part of the greater borough of Mitte. Surrounded on all borders by the waters of the river Spree, the Westhafen Canal and the Berlin-Spandau Navigation Canal, the district of Moabit is technically an island. Since the fall of the Berlin wall, Moabit is no longer a border town between east and west and since re-unification there has been substantial construction of new government buildings as well as the Berlin Hauptbahnhof, the largest two level train station in Germany.
 

Highlights:

The former train station Hamburger Bahnhof on Invalidenstraße is now the home of the Museum for Contemporary Art and houses a collection of works ranging from paintings to video and large-scale installations.
 
A short walk from the Turmstraße U-Bahn station is the fabulous Arminius Markthalle, a beautiful market hall from the 1980’s, where you can eat good food and shop for fresh produce and crafts.  There is a bar inside that brews their own beer and also the best fish and chippy in Berlin.   The Markthalle even hosts some films and live music and theatre that bring something a little extra to the suburb.
 
Kleine Tiergarten is a lovely little park and is the baby brother of the Große Tiergarten located south of the Brandenburger Tor.  Fritz-Schloss-Park is also a lovely park and has a mini golf range and some other activities for the kids.
 
Historically Moabit is known mainly for the prison that was built in the 1840s and over time, housed some famous historical prisoners, political activists and Nazi war criminals before it was demolished in 1955. A remembrance park stands there today surrounded by the walls of the original prison.  Some 100 meters down the road from the original prison stands a newer version completed in 1965 and used mainly as a remand prison.
 
One of the prison’s famous inmates, Albrecht Haushofer was one of Adolf Hitler’s original followers, however, at the outbreak of war he became convinced the only way to end was to remove Hitler.  After the July 20 plot to kill Hitler failed Haushofer was eventually imprisoned where he penned a number of haunting sonnets. SS guards murdered Haushofer on the evening of the 22nd of April as the Soviet army was taking the city.  His brother discovered his body with the following sonnet in his pocket...

 

Schuld                                                                             Guilt
 
...schuldig bin ich                                                           I am guilty,
Anders als Ihr denkt.                                                     But not in the way you think.
Ich mustte früher meine Pflicht erkennen;                I should have earlier recognized my duty;
Ich musste schärfer Unheil Unheil nennen;             I should have more sharply called evil evil;
Mein Urteil habe ich zu lang gelenkt...                      I reined in my judgment too long.
Ich habe gewarnt,                                                          I did warn,
Aber nicht genug, und klar;                                         But not enough, and not clearly enough;
Und heute weiß ich, was ich schuldig war.              And today I know what I was guilty of
 
Albrecht Haushofer