14 October 2017

Things I Love in Berlin: Tag der offenen Tür der Bundesregierung

A few weeks ago, the German federal government had an Open House Day, or a Tag der offenen Tür. Several federal agencies opened their doors to the public during the weekend and allowed regular people to see how the government works. I took the opportunity to visit some government buildings that are normally closed, but were open during that time.

For this year, I concentrated on the Foreign Ministry, or the Auswärtiges Amt. While I am not a diplomat, diplomacy has always been an interesting topic for me, given that I spent a large part of my formative years being a family member of a diplomat. I know the drill, more or less, on what is involved when one is moving to a foreign country, in order to represent one's country, for a few years, before moving back home, and onward to another country.

I checked out the German Foreign Ministry, which had plenty of exhibits about diplomacy and foreign affairs. I saw exhibits about security details, limousines, police, bodyguards, and other measures about security. I saw exhibits about diplomatic protocol. And I also entered the guesthouse of the Foreign Ministry, the Villa Borsig, which is located north of the city. Foreign dignitaries sometimes stay there, and for the most part, it is closed, but because it was Open House that weekend, everyone can check it out.

I like the fact that events like these are held. It says something when the government and other institutions have the time and energy and resources to put up an event like this. I cannot imagine governments of developing countries to open their doors to the public, after all, they have bigger fish to fry, and other priorities to spend their money on. If anything, the fact that the German government can open their doors to the public suggest that there is a high standard of living here, and that is something I am thankful for.

We'll do this again next year. I don't know what federal office I am visiting next time, but I'll definitely check out something.


  1. I've always wondered what diplomats actually do (like day to day). There must be something important beyond the clichés (dinner parties, representation abroad, etc.)

    1. Zhu,

      I've attended some dinner parties and cultural events myself (my dad used to get all these tickets for events and he gave it to us to use instead). And of course there's also the not-so-glamorous side of diplomacy, which I know happens, such as espionage and other closed-room meetings.