Having played soccer for a good majority of my life, I know how hard it is to play a game where you’re losing by four goals. Morale gets low, players start to get frustrated, and support from your fans and spectators evaporates. When Leverkusen put up their fourth goal against Hertha at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium, this is the response I expected to see. However, as Berlin has constantly done, they surprised me.

The energy that the fans filling the stadium displayed when losing 4-0 was almost the same as the energy they displayed at kickoff. The fans still chanted, played drums, sang, and jumped around in support of their hometown team — and the players thrived off of it. Hertha ended up scoring two fantastic goals, with some props definitely going to the energy and support the fans never stopped giving. In fact, had it not been for some unfortunate penalty kicks given to the other team, the game could have easily become a great competition. This resilience, although applied to something a little more trivial like sports, was a great exemplar to me of Berlin as a whole.

This city has experienced some of the lowest lows in history. From invasions by Napoleon, to Nazi genocide and Allied attacks, to Soviet occupation and the Berlin Wall, this city has seen things that I can hardly imagine. Bullet holes still haunt the Victory Column, and pieces of the wall still remain, serving as painful reminders of the things this city has been a part of. Yet, what I’ve found so amazing about this city, it’s culture, and the people, is the fact that they’ve persevered through it all.

Berlin is littered with memorials, as these people choose instead to remember and deal with their past, instead of ignoring it or dwelling upon it. They repurposed various sections of the Berlin Wall to serve as museums, memorials, and even an art gallery, making something beautiful out of something that used to be so horrid. They cleared an entire city block in prime real estate in order to create a memorial for the 6 million Jewish people who lost their lives due to the Third Reich. Everywhere, they post signs that remember the history that happened there, be it good or bad.

This kind of resilience is truly astounding to see first hand. No matter what happened in this city and these places, the people take their past, learn from it, and move on in an attempt to better themselves. They choose to accept their mistakes, rather than trying to forget them or make excuses for it. I think this is something we all could learn from, and I have the highest respect for the people of Berlin.

Thanks for being a great first city Berlin, can’t wait to see what the rest have in store for us!

-Lance Jewett

P.S. Go frogs