This blog post was written by Sarah Rudd, Sage Corps' summer marketing intern.
What to Know
Located in Germany, Berlin is the country’s largest city and one of the most populated cities in the European Union. Although Berlin has officially been recognized as the capital of Germany since 1999, the city once symbolized the division of Germany, Europe, and two very different ideologies: freedom and communism. After World War II, the winning Allies (England, the United States, France, and the Soviet Union) divided Germany into four zones, each controlled by one of the superpowers. As Cold War tensions began to rise, Eastern Germany (controlled by the Soviets) eventually built a wall through Berlin to prevent Eastern Germans from relocating to Western Germany. This wall became known as the “Berlin Wall,” and was for many years a symbol of the Cold War until it “fell” in on November 9 of 1989. Shortly after, the city, and country, were reunited in 1990. Since then, a diverse group of immigrants have arrived in Berlin, helping to create a new and advanced cultural identity for the city, and providing new ideas and talent to the work force.
What to Do
Given its unique history as a divided city, Berlin is home to many important memorials and museums. The East Side Gallery is located on the eastern side of a 1316 meter-long section of the original Berlin Wall that still stands to this day, and consists of over 100 painted murals that represent hope for a better and freer world. Similarly, the Berlin Wall Memorial also includes an original portion of the Berlin Wall, but in addition includes original border fortifications and has formally been dedicated to the Divided City and the Victims of Communist Tyranny. Checkpoint Charlie and the Brandenburg Gate were both used as entry points between East and West Berlin during the Cold War, and they remain important symbols of the city’s historical division. Close by, the Holocaust Memorial remembers the many Jewish European victims of the Second World War. But apart from these memorials and monuments that hold ties to a dark time in Berlin’s history, the city has other exciting places to visit. Museum Island consists of five museums (the Old Museum, the New Museum, the Old National Gallery, the Bode Museum, and the Pergamon Museum), and is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Berlin Botanical Gardens, Berlin Radio Tower, and the Hatch Sticker Museum also offer valuable sightseeing experiences that bear a lesser connection to Berlin’s war history.
According to Business Insider, Berlin is recognized as one of the leading cities for startups in Europe. Some of Berlin’s most noteable original startups include Rocket Internet, SoundCloud, and Dubsmash, but since the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union, there has been talk that many startups currently based in London will soon relocate to Berlin. One of the reasons that Berlin has been able to build and maintain a reputation for being a conducive environment for startups is its relatively low cost of living and its welcoming attitude toward international individuals and companies. There are also a variety of free opportunities to learn the German language in Berlin, allowing international startups to assimilate to Berlin’s culture and be able to interact with locals more quickly. Whether Berlin will truly succeed in overcoming London as the leading startup hub in Europe is still unclear, but Berlin is taking strides to improve their startup environment. We are excited to be sending our first cohort to this amazing city to work with companies like Deskish, Squareball, and Racemappr, and we hope to send even more students in coming years!